Why? Going to "the threepenny squash" picture house.
I hated getting up in the mornings, but not Saturday mornings, the very best day of the week. Why? “the threepenny squash” at the picture house. That was its name on the seafront Whitley Bay beside the Empress ballroom.
Try and imagine someone firing a gun and starting a cattle stampede, well that is what the picture-house was like when they opened the doors and whoa betide the manager if they took a long time in opening the doors. It lived up to its name and as a child of nine, but of small stature, my ribs were always left sore and feet black and blue but I was too excited to feel anything.
I received pocket money of sixpence, 3d for the pictures and 3d to spend. Once you managed to get inside there was little chance of getting a seat in the front row. One pushed and shoved to get a seat beside your friend. Never a week went by without somebody starting a fight over a seat, then the poor usherette would turn up and the one who started it would argue “it wasn’t me miss it was him” and nine times out of ten they were both put out.
I used to hate “bang-bang” cowboy films because all the boys used to wait for the cavalry or “goodies” turning up to save the situation and the kids would proceed to stamp their feet. The poor usherettes with their torches were running ragged trying to catch the culprits and get them to stop.
At the end of the show, everyone would try to get out quick before they played the national anthem. Even then you used to edge slowly towards the exit and stop dead if the usherette spotted you. Once the anthem stopped it was “the threepenny squash” in reverse, dashing to get home for your dinner. Also in my case to meet up with the rest of the gang at “Dingily Dell” which was like a miniature forest down from the cricket field at Hillheads, Whitley Bay where we had our camp. Then we would relive the films we had just seen. Then back to reality, Sunday morning being dragged to church and no playing out – yuk!
Those were the days my friends! (1947)