Back in the day, shortly after I arrived in Canada, I discovered movie theatres and totally fell in love with the concept.
I had been to a few cinemas in the Netherlands, but it was mainly to see Laurel and Hardy and a Mickey Mouse cartoon. Most of the films were lost on me, mainly because I was young and couldn’t understand why they did not speak Dutch.
After a few years in Canada, I had mastered the language and decided the cinema was the place to go. It was, of course a weekend adventure, one I continued to enjoy for several years. The sacred time was Saturdays, around 11 a.m. in the morning. Danny Taylor would ride his bicycle to my house, where I stood eagerly awaiting his arrival. I grabbed my twenty-five cents for the show and a nickle for popcorn, took my CCM Rider from the garage, and off we went. We rode our bikes, as if they were fighter planes, or motorcycles. Streamers fluttered from handlebars and playing cards rattling in the spokes.
We made it to the Willow Theatre in twenty minutes, and locked our bikes securely in place, before entering the show. We never knew what the film was, but that didn’t matter, because any movie was a good movie. Best of all, the twenty-five cents got you in to see a double feature.
Film classics, such as Walter Pidgeon in 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' and Robert Wagner in 'The Silver Whip', instantly transformed us into heroes. And what 14 year old kid was not glued to his seat when Raquel Welch starred in 'The Fantastic Voyage'? The days were memorable and the experience unrivaled.
One particular Saturday stands out in my mind; we arrived at our usual place, but there was a lineup. Totally unheard of! We looked at the marquis and saw Ben-Hur was the feature. It may have been released four or five years earlier, but it had finally made its way to the Willow Theatre. We were beside ourselves, and we rushed past the crowds to get as close as possible to our favourite seats. Of course, neither Danny nor I had any idea what the epic film was about, but that didn’t matter. It was historic and we were a part of it.
Nowadays, I purchase my tickets with an app and select my seats in advance. Cinemas have become glorified living rooms, with comfy seats that turn into an Ultramatic, Adjustable bed. I am sure Gordy Tapp is sitting next to me. Instead of the three hundred seats the Willow offered, there are now 50 or so. Double features are unheard of, and cartoon openers have gone the way of the serial reels. Popcorn has gone up a bit, from five cents a bag, and tickets are around $15. What used to be a $4 outing now costs a family $100 in one afternoon.
I think what I miss the most is, as a kid, the experience of the adventure was the highlight of my week and that is no longer the case. Netflix and Acorn offer thousands of commercial free films in my living room. A new, 120 inch TV was just announced in Vegas, and Orville Redenbacher has replaced Jiffy Pop.
Maybe tonight I will ride my stationery bike for a few minutes, turn on Netflix and search for the Perils of Pauline, before I settle in for my modernized movie adventure.
Jonathan van Bilsen is an award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Follow his adventures, at phtosNtravel.com
How often are you in the company of strangers and listen to or watch them intensely as they muddle through erroneous rituals or words. Yes, believe it or not, there have been situations when I wish I could have turned the clock back, but nothing that remotely compares to some of the things that happen around us.
Recently, a fellow was leaving a garage, attached to a house he had just robbed. Imagine the shock when he realized the garage door opener malfunctioned and he was trapped. To make things worse, the door to the house had locked when he exited. The home owners were on vacation and the poor thief spent eight days drinking Pepsi and eating dog food. After he was finally set free, he sued the homeowner claiming undue mental anguish. Get ready for it… the jury awarded him $500,000 for his suffering.
Another man was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after the neighbour’s puppy bit him on the butt. The kicker is, the dog was on a chain, in its own, fenced backyard. Unfortunately for the victim, he did not get as much as he had asked for, because he had provoked the dog by climbing over a fence and shooting it with a pellet gun.
A restaurant was ordered to pay a patron $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. Why was the soft drink on the floor? The woman had tossed it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
A woman sued a nightclub, because she knocked out two teeth, falling from the bathroom window. Why was she in the bathroom window? She was trying to enter the restaurant without paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,500 plus, you guessed it, the cost of dental expenses.
And lastly, and I remember hearing this one on the news: a lady in Oklahoma purchased a new, 32 foot Winnebago motor home. The very first trip she took landed her on the freeway, where she engaged her cruise control at a safe 110 km per hour. After a few minutes she got up, went into the back and made herself a sandwich. Guess what? The motor home veered off the road, over turned and came to a crashing halt. Luckily, the lady was unscathed, but she sued Winnebago for failing to explain in the owner’s manual, that one should not leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her nearly 2 million dollars, plus a new motor home. Yes, they immediately changed their manuals.
These are actual occurrences from the files of insurance firms, and although they are quite comical (for all but the people involved), they do make you wonder why our insurance rates continue to escalate.
Jonathan van Bilsen is an award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Follow his adventures, at photosNtravel.com.