30/07/2015
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Memories of the Saturday Cinema Club - Scottish nostalgia

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Dorothy Connor recalls the fun of attending the Saturday cinema club as a child.

The Odeon Club in Rutherglen Main Street at the Odeon Picturehouse on a Saturday morning was the 1950s equivalent of childcare. Mothers could do their weekend grocery shopping knowing their children were safely looked after for a few hours and all for six old pence.

There would be a main feature, a serial which always stopped at some crucial point leaving the hero or heroine in peril and us eager to see the next episode, and a short ‘Look at life’ educational film usually taking us to a historical place of interest or showing us how something was made. My favourite serial was The Adventures of Lassie. This wonder dog was always able to tell rescuers with just a few barks the exact location of where someone was trapped, be it down a mineshaft or on the edge of a cliff.

We would be given pocket money to spend in a nearby sweet shop as the sweeties on sale inside the pictures were too dear. Our favourite was an ‘everlasting strip’ for tuppence. This was a long thin strip of toffee which lived up to its name and lasted through the whole show. Some weeks we’d choose a selection from the penny or halfpenny tray and pals would share amongst one another. 

If one of us was 'rich' and had the money to buy a Kia-Ora orange drink in a special cup with a straw inside the cinema, that person was greatly envied and their pals competed to get a ‘sook' of this glorious liquid. Kia-Ora was advertised on the big screen along with adverts showing a glamorous American lifestyle and was to us children, the height of sophistication and wealth. Every year the Odeon Club remembered our birthdays with a card sent to our home address – always the same one every year with an Alsatian dog on the front.

One memorable morning mum was early picking us up and the film wasn't finished so the usherette told her to have a seat at the back. The picture house was in darkness but mum could hear the noise of the cowboy and Indian film but was puzzled that she could see nothing. It was only when the lights went up that she realised with much laughter that she was facing the wall with her back to the screen!

The usherettes ruled with a rod of iron and any misbehaviour resulted in the manager being called and the offender being lifted out of their seat by the scruff of the neck and thrown out the front door onto the pavement. Some footstamping and shouting was allowed but there was a thin dividing line between what was acceptable and what was not. Serious offences would be talking through the film, leaving litter on the floor or heckling acts during the talent show. I don't ever remember any sweets being thrown as they were far too precious to waste.

I saw the kindlier side of the usherette one hot summer's evening when I found myself in the middle of a drama. Mum and I had gone to an early evening screening at the Odeon and she fainted, sliding right out of her seat and onto the floor. The usherette and the manager revived her and I was sent home on an emergency mission to fetch dad. I was accompanied by the usherette in her ultra smart and important uniform. I must confess my thrill at feeling like a VIP walking home in the company of this figure of authority watched by all the children out playing in the street, temporarily overcame my worry about my mum.

Luckily all was well. Dad came and we all walked home together once she had cooled down. We even received free passes to come back and watch the film right through.

QUICK LINK: Visiting the cinema in Fifties Glasgow

 

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