The Cliffhanger Kept Me Begging for More

Guest blogger Sara Marie Hogg remembers those early days at the Saturday morning movie in an excerpt from her novel, Catho Darlington – Lessons Learned in the Space Age:

There was a long line at the picture show that Saturday when The Blob finally made it to the Calhoun Town Theater.  There had not been that long of a line there since High Noon or South Pacific.  The Elementary children intended to elbow their way through that line if necessary for the privilege to be scared out of their wits.   They had saved up enough money from their allowances to see the movie as many times as they wanted. 

It was as big as events get in rural America.  Some children wore boots, just in case something slimy got loose in the theater, as TV movie ads often promised they would.  They wanted to arrive early enough to get the choicest seats – close to the screen but not too close.  Your neck would be sore for days and you would have ringing in your ears.  Mama wouldn’t like it and you would get a talking-to.

     When the wait seemed no longer bearable, the girl removed the piece of wood from the ticket window….the children filed in…the lights went down….the curtain parted….

This is pretty much the way I remember it.  Saturday matinees were a thrilling part of our rural life.  The movie reels were preceded by some stock film about the treats available at the concessions booth, previews of coming attractions—sometimes we tried to take notes on these in the semi- darkness—a cartoon,  and then, something actually kind of wonderful:  a short serial with a cliff-hanger.

Some of these were made as far back as the 1930s, but they were good, and hopefully insured movie patrons would be back the next week to see the next installment.  One cliff-hanger that is burned into my memory was one in which the hero, wearing tights, naturally, was up against a concrete wall and another concrete wall (where did these things exist and what architect was responsible for them?) was inching closer and closer.  Our hero, gesturing wildly and emoting facial dramatics, would surely be squashed as flat as a mud flap, right before our eyes.  THE END.   Come back next week to see what happens!

Now I find myself tuning in daily to Caleb and Linda Pirtle to relive this thrill of my youth.  I can’t wait to see what the writers at Caleb and Linda Pirtle will surprise me with next.  After logging on, I make a dash to bring up my favorite stories from my favorite authors.  I have been “cliff-hanged.”   It is a wonderful idea:  every day or two a new chapter of a book comes up to read, free.  There are many books to choose from, many different genres.  I, myself, am partial to mystery, intrigue and the unknown.  What catastrophic messes will the hero get himself into?  What scandal is wagging from moving and often malicious mouths?  Who all knows about the deed?

May I recommend that you check the Caleb and Linda Pirtle Blogs for the newest books to be serialized?  Get hooked on older ones (they are archived in the blogs)—the thrill is the same. You read a chapter at a time.  You will soon be “cliff-hanged” and love it.

In my early days of movie matinees I figured out a way to make a horn out of my empty Pom Pom box and I “honked” it during intermission. I am still honking that horn—in a salute to Caleb and Linda Pirtle and their vision for  writers, artists and readers.


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