Friday nights were magical. Around the age of eight, my mom would drop me off at our town square with $5 and a promise to pick me up in 2 hours. It was not the age of child abductions to be sure.
I would walk to the window and buy my ticket, sometimes with a cousin or two, but more often without. The posters would tell of next weeks feature but the future held none of my interest, only that moment.
Walking into the Martin Theater, my ticket would be torn and the stub handed back to me, stuffed into my pocket. There were no names or coupons on the tickets in the mid-seventies, only the generic Admit One. I would walk to the concession counter, ask for a large suicide and box of Raisinets.
Having only one screen, the only choices were to see the movie or not. I begged my mom’s younger brother to come to accompany me to see Rattlers because I was afraid to watch it by myself. Lucky for me, he wanted to see it too. A few minutes into the movie, my feet propped themselves up against the seat in front of me, #becausesnakes. The usher came by and warned me put my feet down. A few minutes later, he told me he would remove me from the theater if it happened a third time. The snakes slithered around my ankles the rest of the movie and I was miserable and it was AWESOME…my first horror movie!
Several months later, Grizzly was playing, and once again, I called upon my uncle to accompany me. I don’t remember much of the plot line, but when the giant bear slapped the horses head clean off, the memory permanently fused some of my neurons together, only to be further imbedded in my mind the following, because it was played a second run.
In May of 1977, a movie called Star Wars (you may have heard of it) was playing. I had not seen anything about it, but that was normally the case. You rolled the dice every Friday and sometimes ended up with Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Not that week.
Even watching Star Wars now, with its antiquated special effects, I’m instantly sitting back in that cool theater with the golden “prop-not-your-feet-upon-these-treasured-seats” watching two hours of science fiction heaven.
Four times I watched it. It played for a month and I saw it every Friday and almost cried the week it was replaced. That 28-day run was the longest of any movie at the original, one-screen theater before it closed and the Martin Triple opened a few miles away.
Jaws kept me out of the ocean for 2 years and after a legitimate shark bite 3 years ago, I’m retiring my swim fins and goggles. Superman inspired me to save the world, even if I had to make the planet spin backwards. Halloween taught me it’s possible to watch a movie with my eyes shut. George Burns demonstrated God’s sense of humor.
Before it was the Martin, it was the Ritz, and it has since reopened as a music venue, taking on it’s historic Ritz name. But sadly, the Martin Triple is closed, leaving the people of my hometown without a place to hatch their own movie memories.