When I was around 7 or 8 years old I discovered the wonderful world of movies. Since we had two movie theaters in town within walking distance that only charged 10 cents admission, made it easy. I soon found out that there was something better in life other than playing stick ball, shooting marbles, chasing the girls and pulling their pigtails and swimming in the Kentucky River. The movies were full of fabulous adventures, beautiful women, risk taking heroes with their swords, guns and horses and fast cars. I couldn't get enough. All the movies were great. Adventures, tragedies, love stories, musicals, war stories and pirates of the seven seas. When I wasn't in the movies I was day dreaming about movies. Sitting in the swing on the front porch I might be flying my speedy P-40 high in the sun, my eyes peeled for the ruthless ME-109s over Germany, showing them no mercy. I could be romancing the beautiful Hedy Lamar trying to steal a kiss or two and then dancing off gracefully into the night, even better than Fred Astair. Or day dreaming during arithmetic in Mrs. Waltman's third grade imagining that the slap on the shoulder was the Human Monster trying to drag me down into his darkened dungeon.
All this stuff was just great but could there be anything better than this? Yes there was. Westerns. I had discovered the greatest thing in the world. The Saturday Matinees, the black & white shoot-em-ups, the double feature horse operas. The ultimate in entertainment. The definitive good triumphs over evil, one hour at a time. The great looking cowboys with the immaculate white hats, silver pistols, and fire breathing stallions with the flowing manes and the hearty cry, "High Yo Silver, Away!
In the Virginia Theater on Saturday afternoon sitting half way down in the middle, my world went to the next level. I was consumed by the gun shots, the horses racing over the trails through the clouds of dust. The good guys in constant peril kept me on on the edge of my seat often missing my mouth with my popcorn. This was my new world and I loved it and I never wanted to come back. I, soon, learned all about Colt 45s and Winchesters and how exciting it was to draw you pistol in the middle of Main Street and shoot the rustlers, bank robbers, and all those vicious Indians who seemed to be everywhere.
After it was all over and it was time to go home and resume my boring real life, I still tried to avoid reality. Who would I be on the way home and for the rest of the day? The Lone Ranger? No, everybody wanted to be the Lone Ranger. Or Zoro, with his black whip, his flashing sabre, his two gun rig and his amazingly beautiful ebony horse with the long flowing tail? Hopalong Cassidy was good. How about Bob Steele? He made 120 movies and I think I saw them all. But Humphrey Bogart shot and killed him in "The Big Sleep" and I never forgot that. How about Don "Red" Barry? Nah, he is too short. Him and Alan Ladd could have been twins. I like "Wild Bill Elliot" Big tough good looking guy.He had an two gun rig that he wore backwards. Usually played "Red Ryder" with "Little Beaver". I heard that Robert Blake hated that name. He was a peaceable man. Gene Autry was a great cowboy. Always wore those fancy, pointed toe boots. I wondered if his socks were just as fancy.
Wait a minute! I forgot! On the way home I go right past the Family Theater. Tex Ritter is on there in: "Blood on the Saddle". I'll have time to see that before supper time.Another hour in Horse Opera Heaven, WOW!