I didn’t see many movies back in SC. Three maybe. They were expensive even at the drive-in. But I do remember the first ever movie I saw. It was there at the Lauren’s Drive-In, right next door to the place that made hash. It had Humphrey Bogart in it and the main character, really, was the tank, as far as I was concerned. That’s all it was about: Bogart, the tank, and some guys from different countries (probably intended to symbolize the allied effort) in the middle of the desert trying to get back to civilization in WWII. It was called, fittingly, Sahara, because that was where the desert was.
The movie was made in 1943, during the war, and I saw it in 1951 or so. I guess the Lauren’s drive-in didn’t show first run movies. But I remember it pretty well because I made an observation while viewing it. I observed that there was not one goddamn woman in the whole fucking movie, from beginning to end, just a bunch of guys and their glorious tank out in the desert. I remember thinking this because I remember also that I considered telling someone about what I had observed.
My father sat a little to the left of me and my mother to the right of me, as I poked my head up between them to get a look at the screen. Had I any sort of male bonding with my father of the more archaic kind I might have leaned forward and whispered in his ear, Hey, old man. There ain’t a goddamn woman in this whole fucking movie. War is fucking a paradise. I mean you can drop your pants and piss where-ever the fuck you like.
But lacking such bonding, I didn’t even think of addressing my father. In fact, as I had the thought, I thought immediately of my mother. I felt the urge to say to her, Hey, there aren’t any women in this movie. Did you notice that? I wondered if she had noticed and if she thought anything one way or other about it. I wondered maybe if she was offended that no women had been in the move. But I felt some sort of anger when I decided not to say anything maybe because I knew at some level she was not offended at all but was probably sitting there enjoying the idiotic spectacle that men could make of themselves.
I can’t remember the other movies, but I am sure we saw a couple more, maybe. And of course we didn’t have a TV so I didn’t see any movies on TV when I was just a little kid. I have met people since who seem to have spent their entire kidhood watching movies on TV. But not me. My favorite aunt got a TV in 1955 and the first thing I ever saw on TV was Walt Disney Presents or something like that. Uncle Walt would talk a bit on every show and then they would show cartoons.
Later on when I went to college my first ever college roommate had been a member of the Mickey Mouse Club by which I mean he had been on TV as a back up substitute should any of the other members of the TV show get sick or something. He had seen Annette Funicello in the flesh. I had really moved up by then.