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The Normal Theater

The Normal Theater

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Published by John Brandt
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Published by: John Brandt on Apr 12, 2013
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04/12/2013

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This is from the “My Life in Vignettes” series No. 18
 The Normal Theatre119
th
St. Chicago, 1955
My life’s history
would certainly be incomplete without discussing the Normal Theatre. Moviesthen whose influence on me was profound.The Man with the Golden Arm.The Day the Earth Stood Still.Bambi.Peter Pan.War of the Worlds.To Hell and Back.
Singin’in the Rain
.Rear Window.High Noon.Dial M for Murder.On the Waterfront.The Bridge Over the River Kwai.From Here to EternityFire Maidens of Outer SpaceHigh School Big ShotYes, my Cousin Tom and I were loyal customers at the Normal. He only lived two blocks away.
We’
d cut through the West Pullman School playground.The woman in the box office outside, Hazel had the brightest red lipstick. And the blackest hair on earth
. I always thought someday she’ll be up there on the screen.
 
 
“Hi Johnny and Tom, you’re gonna’ love these movies so much,” she’d say.Or, “this movie is gonna’ give you
 
nightmares, I’m warning you.”
 You would get a program that included what was coming. There was always a double bill onSunday afternoons. But first it was Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd trying to blast him in a holewith a shotgun. Then Woody Woodpecker. Sunday, 1 PM matinee, $.25 got you in.
Du Du Du
That’s all folk’s.”
 Once in the door we hit the candy counter. The candy counter was not something you took lightly; it had to be studied before making any decisions.
Holloway bars that would pull you’re
fillings out. Ju- Ju Beads that were like chewing on sweet
nail heads. Dum Dum’s, one of my
all-time favorites. And of course, Chunky, what a chunk of chocolate.Enough sugar to keep us rolling until midnight.Parental advice:
“Don’t lean your head back against the seat or you’ll have yourself 
a ringworm
the size of a night crawler.” We didn’t care we were about to watch aliens wipe out the earth.
And there was Audie Murphy, single handedly wiping out the Third Reich.The Day the Earth Stood Still is an Art Deco masterpiece of a film. We stayed and watched it
twice. In fact we stayed and watched a lot of movies twice. “Just hunker 
down so the usher 
doesn’t see
 
us.”
 
After the movie there was a drug store right across the street that sold Luden’s
Cough Drops,cherry flavor. But first, you had to let your eyes adjust to the blinding sunlight.
Then we’d head
west on 119
th
 
to Sabo’s Sporting Goods to ogle at the fishing stuff.
Once I actually bought a new baseball there. Tom and I would share custody of it like a pet.Then back to the magazine Soda Shop on the corner of Wallace & 119
th
st. To read all the latest
comics before heading back to Tom’s house.
The people who owned it were nice to us, wetreated it like a comic library. There I read my first Mad magazine. They did a parody onGunsmoke. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to pee in my pants. I could not take MattDillon seriously after that.
“Hey, before we go back let’s go over to Stuka’s
Tavern and play some shuffleboard. Uncle
Oscar will be there that’s for sure.”
That place I could write a whole book about. Thoseneighborhoods had a tavern on every corner. Each one had its own unique personality, and cast.
“Did you love
that robot or what
? Man, I loved that guy!”
 So that, ladies and gentlemen, was a Sunday afternoon for us c.1955.John Brandt

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