Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Let's Go to the Movies!

Yes, I know. The sound is out of sync. There aren't any other versions of this on Youtube...

This evening at dinner, my grandmother told the story of her first visit to an American movie theater.

Edward Hopper - "New York Movie" 1939

She first left her native Colombia for the United States in the fall of 1950 to attend Mississippi Southern College. She still has all the correspondence she wrote in those early days. Much of the content of her letters pertained to the vast differences between her country and ours - for instance, how the black people were forced to sit in the back of the bus. She found this out the hard way when she took a seat in the rear of a city bus. The driver actually stopped the bus, went up to my grandmother and forced her to switch to a seat closer to the front. Needless to say, my grandmother was embarrassed and confused.

Poster for the movie that made Clara Bow

Many other things about the United States seemed very foreign to her, and the American movie theater experience was no exception. On a double date with her good friend from Colombia, the (American) men were very attentive. After buying their tickets and finding seats, they asked my grandmother and her friend if they'd like some popcorn. My grandmother's English was still rusty, so she asked for clarification. Her date explained that it was fried corn kernels covered with salt and butter. She and her friend exchanged looks - not because she didn't recognize the food; quite the opposite.

Damn. Good. Movie.

My grandmother had grown up eating popcorn as a side dish much like rice, so it was odd to think one would eat popcorn at the movies. The only movie theater treat my grandmother knew were candied almonds and other sweets. The movies weren't really a place to eat. In fact, eating at the movies would spoil one's appetite for tea after the movie in one of many local cafés. You can only imagine what she thinks of the nachos and hot dogs available today.

Not a movie poster, but you gotta love Barbi

I adore hearing these stories from my grandmother and from anyone who can share little gems of life in different times. I hope to share more and more of these with you as I blog my way through the ages.


Nostalgically Yours


  1. I can't watch your videos but I love this Hopper painting. Hopper was obligatory at the uni. This piece is one of my favs. Yes, please! I'm waiting for more stories from your grandmother!
    Very good post!

  2. Lovely story! I love that song too, "Lets go to the movies" one of my favorites in the Annie movie/play. I also love the song "NYC" but in some versions of the movies and plays they don't always sing it. Now that you've got me in the mood, I'm going to go watch Annie right now! Love you roro<3

  3. i love hearing stories like this (and the album covers you have chosen!). Your grandmother is a lot younger than mine, but my grandma went to the movies 3-4 times a week in grand movie houses (this would have been the 1930s) and was given a nickel by her grandma each time to spend on snacks -including popcorn! I guess it's an american thing.


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