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The Saturday Morning Matinee

by Larry Blanks ("Nooga Kid")

    There are a number of reasons that caused me to get interested in the wonderful sport of Cowboy Action Shooting. But for those of us who were raised on the old B Western movies of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, as well as the great TV westerns of the 1950s and 1960s, it's an opportunity to "play cowboy" again -- an opportunity to remember those times when we kids in the neighborhood strapped on our guns, chose sides and argued about who was going to be the good guys and who would be the bad guys or Indians.

    Being born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee (now you know where 'Nooga Kid came from), I can remember my mom dropping my buddy and me downtown on Saturday morning with a dollar each, and we would start our regular routine. First we analyzed the activity. Did we start with the Cameo where they showed the Red Ryder, Rocky Lane or Wild Bill Elliott films? Or go across the street to the Capitol where they showed Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea westerns?

    Usually we'd start up at the State Theater where every Saturday they had the Roy Rogers Riders Club, a cartoon or two, and then a real "shoot-um-up" Roy Rogers western.

    Lunch was always at the Krystal, then up to the old Dixie Theater which showed all the Durango Kid westerns as well as Gene Autry or Hoppy. At least three westerns, lunch, and of course, shopping (just looking) at the three "Dime Stores" downtown for the latest cap guns and holster sets. Or over to Loveman's department store (which sponsored the Roy Rogers Riders Club) and see what was new at the Roy Rogers Corral up on the 4th floor. They were the only "authorized" dealer of the full line of Roy Rogers clothing and accessories in town. And you know what? We did all that on the dollar our moms gave us.

    Once the westerns hit the small screen and families bought TVs which showed Saturday morning fare like Sky King, Hoppy, Gene, Roy, etc., there was an impact on our trips to town (even thought we only had one TV station, WDEF, channel 12).

    We still went to the Roy Rogers Riders Club at the State, but as attendance started falling, they eventually stopped having it. That was a real shame. We dressed up in our best boots, hats and shirts, along with the holster rigs we had gotten for Christmas and had a ball. Can you imagine 100+ nine- to twelve-year olds shooting caps and "yee-hawing" together? But we were very quiet during the movie. Spellbound is a better description.

    Some of those old cap guns would buy you a nice pair of Ruger Vaqueros today if you still had them. I still have my Roy Rogers cap gun and holster set that I got for Christmas in 1949, but I wouldn't trade them for anything -- even for a set of specially prepared Colt peacemakers. They bring back memories that just can't be replaced.

    Hope y'all enjoyed this little trip through the past.

    Shoot straight, Buckaroos!


    For more movie theater stories at USADS, visit these pages:
    Click these links to read all the comments:
    ELLIS MEMORIES II -- Ann, KDD, Jim G., Paula, Don and Jim T.
    ELLIS MEMORIES III -- Gusty, Harvey, Buddy, Noel, Delia and Ken
    ELLIS MEMORIES IV -- Kathy, Lonnye Sue, Mick, Pat, Pam, Nancy, Tom, Eileen and Kent
    ELLIS MEMORIES V -- Clista, Eddie, Linda, Andy, Marynell and Lamar

    Hail to the Chief Drive In Movie by Lonnye Sue Sims Pearson
    Moorhead Picture Show by Jim Harrison
    The Delta Theater by Tom Givens
    The Kiddee Matinee by Jerry Dallas

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