Upon leaving elementary school (1961), I entered junior high (Gompers). There was no such concept as a middle school at the time. The play days of elementary school were behind me and the rigors of junior high was a new concept for me. Yes, I was an A/B student in elementary school but my first semester was a killer. I came home with straight “Ds” on my first progress report card, with the exception of P.E. for which I got a “B.” My parents were so upset with me and the grades I received, I was forced to quit my participation with the Boy Scouts. But in the year I was in Boy Scouts I had progressed to 1st Class.
After receiving such poor marks I buckled down and by the end of the year I was honored for having made the greatest progress in my social studies class. Therefore, at the end of the school year assembly, my social studies teacher (Ms Marion Inglish) presented me with a certificate of accomplishment and a book about Harry Houdini.
I was an avid reader, and I still am. While in junior high, I read every single book in the school library about the west: Kit Carson, Sitting Bull, Daniel Boone, Crazy Horse, Buffalo Bill, etc. And, on some Saturdays, I could be found either riding my bike or taking the bus to the downtown library to check out more books. Imagine my surprise, when one day upon returning home from the library my mother said to me that one of her friends had observed me giving up my bus seat for an elderly person—the bus was full.
On Saturdays mornings if I didn’t go to the downtown library, I could be found watching cartoons such as Mighty Mouse, Looney Tunes, or Captain Kangaroo. The afternoons we watched Tarzan Theater, The Silent Service and “The Outer Limits (the original series). On special occasions my mother would drop me and my brother off at the State Theater on University Ave for an afternoon of movie watching (Godzilla comes to mind). During those days, going to the movie was an all afternoon affair. We might get dropped off at 1:00 pm and the shows would not be finished until about 6:00 pm. What would take up so much time?
A movietone newsreel (I don’t recall movietone news reels ending in 1963) might be shown first, followed by a cartoon, followed by the first movie. When the first movie was finished, there was an intermission break. It was during that time, people usually went to the concession stand, or visited the “kitty litter box.” After intermission, a movietone news reel once again showed the news of the week, followed by a cartoon, followed by a second movie. Then the shows would repeat so it didn’t matter if you came to the theater during the first or second movie, you could still watch both of them. Heck a person could stay in the theater from the moment it opened to the moment it closed repeatedly watching the same movies.
Viewing television programs in our home was very limited. I always had to ask permission to turn on the television, and programs other than cartoons, Star Trek (in fact my parents use to say I was Mr Spock incarnate,) Batman (Pow, Wham, Bam, etc.) had to be newsworthy, documentary, or educational. While most of my friends were watching Dragnet, Wild Wild West, Gunsmoke, or other popular television programs of the day, I was building model airplanes and ships, reading or helping my dad around the house. However, this didn’t mean I didn’t watch some of these programs—I most certainly did, but had to sneak around doing it. Saturday nights when my parents when out clubbing or dancing, I would watch these popular shows, Gunsmoke, Twilight Zone, Hogan’s Heroes, or Saturday Night Movies.