Brother #1 and me, a couple of years before we started going to movies together.
I have a vague recollection of being taken to a drive-in movie by my mother and one of her brothers when I was 6 or 7, but my first real memories of going to the movies go back to 1956, when we moved to the Hainerberg housing area in Wiesbaden. Our apartment was on Mississippistrasse, which may have been close to the outer edge of the housing area at that time. My memory is that it was at the top of a hill with the PX and Post Theater at the bottom of the hill. About halfway down, there was a Bread and Milk Station where I was sometimes sent on errands for my mother.
The hill is long and steep as I look back on it, but it really probably wasn’t that bad, since Brother #1 and I could walk down and back by ourselves to go to the movies. (Yes, we were free-range kids!) Fifty cents would buy both our tickets and leave twenty cents over for candy. I don’t remember ever getting popcorn; I guess we just preferred candy.
When we started doing this, Brother #1 was five and I was eight. I’m sure we always went to matinee performances, but I don’t recall any specifically-for-kids movies except for Walt Disney’s Song of the South. My parents must have exercised some oversight over our choices, since, while I recall seeing trailers for The Rose Tattoo, Tea and Sympathy, and The Bad Seed, I never saw the actual movies. But here are some of the ones we did see: Beyond Mombasa – my brother loved movies about Africa, and for some reason this title stuck in my head, but I’m sure we saw several others like it. We also saw Something of Value – which I suspect would not get a PG-13 rating nowadays.
Bundle of Joy – Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher in a comedy about “unwed motherhood,” 50s-style
Tammy and the Bachelor – more Debbie Reynolds, but I had forgotten that “the Bachelor” is played by Leslie Nielsen!
Friendly Persuasion – Indiana Quakers in the Civil War, with Anthony Perkins and Gary CooperKismet, The King and I, and Oklahoma – three of the great movie musicals. My brother still tells of being snookered into going to see Oklahoma because “It’s about cowboys.”
The last time I can remember going to a movie with my brother was in 1964, and again, it was at a Post Theater – this time at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart-Moehringen. We hadn’t been there very long and the theater was showing The Longest Day (starring my pre-teen heart-throb, Fabian!) There was a long line to get in, and standing near us was a middle-aged buck sergeant who told us he wanted to see the film because he had been in the D-Day Landings himself (after all, it was only twenty years in the past then). He explained his low rank by having spent some years as a civilian before returning to the service. Ah, Sgt. Gnospelius, where are you now?Now that my brother and I live near each other again, perhaps we should make a date to take in a movie together once more; I bet we’ll have just as much fun as we did 50+ years ago, but I know it will cost a lot more.