They say that one of the signs you’re getting old is that you find yourself, more and more often, using phrases such as: When I was a boy/girl, Back when I was young, In my day, When I was a kid. Well, you get the idea. Rather than fight this tendency I’ve decided to embrace it by posting, on occasion, blog entries the title of which will begin with “Back when I was Young”. I welcome others to post similar pieces and let me know so I can link to them here.
Back when I was young, like many kids we used to go to the movies. Montreal, as was the case in most cities, had its share of movie theatres – we Anglophones didn’t call them cinemas, to us they were movie theatres. These often elaborately designed single-screen theatres showed films every night and had matinees on the weekends and during school holidays. I recall the price being 75 cents before seven o’clock at which time the cost of admission shot up to a whopping $1.25! For that princely sum you were treated to a cartoon – usually Blake Edwards‘ Pink Panther which could be used in both French and English theatres as there was no dialogue – in addition to the main feature.
But that’s not the issue, the price of everything has gone up over time, it’s just what happens. As I recall things, the admission fee got you into the theatre to see the movie. There were, of course, snack bars where you could buy soft drinks, popcorn, candies and chips. But these were just for convenience because many people, perhaps most, brought their own snacks to the movie. I’m not talking about smuggling in contraband Twizzlers or Reese’s Pieces, sneaking past ushers who look like they want to pat down movie goers. The goodies we brought to the theatre were most welcome, after all you had paid your admission. It was a movie theatre, not a restaurant – it was a Bring Your Own Food establishment
Many’s the time we would bring in, openly and honestly, a box of a dozen and Dairy Queen milkshakes. Others brought submarine sandwiches or even hamburgers. Some folks even made special snacks at home and, along with a thermos of coffee settled in to enjoy the movie and munch on a ham on rye.
These days the film is almost an afterthought; once you get past the vast array of food on offer at exorbitant prices and run the gamut of the umpteen video games in the lobby, you can finally settle down to watch the feature.
Long gone are the days when movie theatres were in the business of selling admission to films and providing convenience snack bar counters, but were BYOF!