When I was a small child, I watched many movies in the Shawmut Theater in Roxbury. It was located close to Eagleton Square, which was bustling with activity and safe years ago. Today you don’t venture there if you value your life. The Shawmut was more than a movie house. It was a community center, a second home, a retreat, a social gathering place, and of course, an entertainment facility. It allowed thankful parents to get a few hours away from their children as long as they had someone responsible to take their kids to the Saturday matinee.

Tickets were either five or ten cents each. There was no food or drink sold in the neighborhood theaters when I was five years old, but there usually was a confectionery store nearby where you could purchase a generous amount of candy for a nickel. What could be more satisfying than your sweet-tooth treat as you sat patiently through the news, laughed aloud at the cartoons, and intently watched the main attraction and the important cliffhanger that made you want to return the following week?

I walked along with my two older brothers, who were threatened with horrible punishment if they neglected to take good care of their little sister. It wasn’t my fault that on the way I managed, God only knows how, to swallow a fairly large buzzing fly. I screamed as it tickled my throat, its wings beating in protest. Finally it slid down. I wanted to go home to tell my mother what had happened but my brothers didn’t want to do that. They were thoughtful enough to assure me that flies were not bad and actually were good for you as long as you didn’t consume too many. Little Bernice swallowed that bull along with the fly.

We entered the large, imposing building of our weekend retreat and found seats. I sat between Arnold and Howard as always. Mom said that was the safest way. But what happened if I needed to visit the bathroom? They couldn’t take me. My mother told me I could go if it was an emergency and we would have to ask a lady or older girl whom we knew to take me. I realize now that on Saturdays I was given very few fluids until I got home. Then I was urged to drink a lot to help the dehydration I’d been subjected to.

We were surrounded by familiar, friendly faces. I waved to my neighbors. We were all in a jovial mood, anticipating a wonderful afternoon. There was chatter and laughter. Occasionally an usher would come around to shush people and to warn us we’d have to leave if we couldn’t behave. To me, an usher was like a policeman. I didn’t dare misbehave.

I loved that time at the movies. We had one bag of candy, which we shared. I was happy and engrossed in a funny Charlie Chaplain film. Suddenly something hard hit my chest. I was frightened. I poked Arnold and asked him if I was bleeding. I told him maybe someone shot me.

He whispered, “Are you crazy? What are you talking about?”

I felt around: no blood. Then my shaky fingers fished out an object. Even in the dark, from the size and shape I could tell it was a 50-cent piece. It probably had fallen from the balcony above us, and to me it was a real windfall. I did feel sorry for the person who lost it, though.

I asked my brothers if I should call out, “Did anyone lose fifty cents?”

They told me “Don’t you dare; everyone will say they did.”

We just had to keep it and without guilt.

After hours of being entertained, we headed for home, but first we stopped at the little store. My brothers had convinced me that I should share my fortune with them. After all, they brought me each week.

We were able to get three large bags of our favorite penny candy. We walked along, partaking of the goodies. I chewed a couple of the chocolate covered caramels that I favored, which was probably one of the reasons I had trouble with my gums years later.

I left a generous portion for my parents. My brothers ate all of theirs. My parents became angry with them because they had very little appetite for the tasty meal my mom had prepared, and they were properly punished, but my mother and father praised their little darling for being kind and willing to share.

— © Bernice Becker

Author's Bio: 

Bernice Becker, 84 years young, is the author of THE MOVIES. She is a new 21st century Mother Moses of the written word! Her new e-book, from which this story is taken, FEEL GOOD STORIES, is available on her website, www.storiestofeelgood.com and also on www.enchantedself.com. FEEL GOOD STORIES is the first book to be published as an ENCHANTED SELF BOOK, reflecting delight in living that THE ENCHANTED SELF has come to signify.