by Donette Lee
While I cannot describe my first trip to the movies, I do remember that, when I was in preschool, Mother or Daddy would ask the other: “Do you want to go to the S-H-O-W?” But soon I began to answer, “I want to go, too!” and they had to quit spelling the question.
I can recall two specific movie experiences that have stuck with me over the years. When I was a young teenager, circa 1948, I would sometimes visit my cousins in Montgomery, Alabama, where their dad was the manager of two all-black theaters (since the other theaters were still segregated). During one visit, he told us that he would take us to see Gone with the Wind
(1939). We sat in the balcony, which he closed to the paying customers. I don’t remember much about the movie, but I do remember sitting with my two cousins in an otherwise empty balcony.
The second experience happened when I was a little older–around fifteen years old–and had a date with my steady boyfriend to go to Leland, Mississippi to see The Thing from Another World
(1951). My eleven-year-old brother begged us to let him come along, and I told him I would only allow it if he promised NOT to sit with us. He readily agreed and walked further to the front of the theater to sit. If you remember at all how scary that movie was, then you can picture that little boy coming back up the aisle to the row in front of us and asking if he could please sit there for the rest of the movie. Even I could not refuse such a pitiful plea, because it was indeed terrifying!
Donette Lee was raised in Hollandale, Mississippi, and worked for Bellsouth for twenty-two years before retiring and moving to Georgia. She has two grown daughters, Larraine and Margaret, and four grandchildren.