By David Flick
Going to the "picture shows" in the famous Washita Theater was one of the most exciting things kids could do before they had driverís licenses. In fact, it was about all we could do to find entertainment in those days around Hammon. Elk City was a hundred miles away and only on rare occasions did my parents ever take us to the movies in Elk City.
Tickets to the movies in those days were a dime a head. For a fat ten cents we could watch the movie as many times as they showed it, which was usually two times per evening. Popcorn was a nickel a sack. On Saturday night, after the two showings of the main feature, there was a "preview." The preview was the movie which ran on Sunday and Monday.
The theater was open seven days a week. There was a movie every night except Sunday. On Sunday, the movie was shown in the afternoon. There were usually three movies shown each week. The schedule was a Sunday/Monday movie, a Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday movie and one on Friday and Saturday. Usually the biggest and best movie was shown in the Friday/Saturday slot. It would be one starring Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, one starring Gene Autry, John Wayne, Abbott & Costello, Ma & Pa Kettle or some other more famous star of the day. The movies shown during the week were usually starred by the lesser known Hollywood actors.
In addition to the main feature, there was always a comedy feature, which was animated. The animated characters which included Tom & Jerry, Porky Pig, Mickey Mouse, Foghorn Leghorn or some other character were always fun to watch. I always wanted to arrive early at the theater because I didnít want to miss the "comedy." Mother would let us stay and watch the comedy the second time at the beginning of the second showing of the evening. I always tried to be on time because I wanted to see the main feature sandwiched by the comedy.
On the weekends (Friday/Saturday) there was usually a serial of some sort. The serial was a continued kind of thing. It would show immediately after the comedy and just preceding the main feature.
The thing about serials was that one had to attend continuously over a series of Saturday nights if one wanted to keep up with the continuity of plot. The serials always had the good guy in trouble just before the "To Be Continued..." sign flashed on the screen. The good guy was facing the bad guy in an impossible situation and we were always left hanging mesmerized on the edge of our seats, wondering how the good guy was going to get out of his impossible situation. The good guy was either having a gun pointed into the midsection of his back or else he was plunging over the edge of a cliff still in the driverís seat.
One of my favorite serials was "Rocket Man." Youíd have to have seen Rocket Man to know what he could do. He was the good guy who had a contraption which he could strap on his back and fly like Superman. I would go home at night after watching a Rocket Man episode and try to figure out how I could make myself a set of rockets to strap to my back. I wanted to fly free as a bird and save all the girls from the bad boys.
I always was a dreamer, but I never figured that one out. I knew where I could get me some straps,... but those rockets? For the life of me, I had no idea where I could find some. Once I thought about getting Dadís acetylene welder bottles and making myself some rockets but that idea fizzled when I discovered how heavy they were. Shucks, I couldnít even lift one bottle, much less strap it onto my back.
Speaking of movies, I always enjoyed those about cowboys and Indians. In the lower grades of grade school, most of the boys, including myself, had some cap-guns. Most of us had a nice pair of cap guns in our possession. I remember that Lowell Mooney had the best pair of the most realistic explosive cap pistols I ever saw. They were so good that they made Roy Rogers and Gene Autryís real guns look like pawn shop stuff.
We could by large rolls of caps in the Trent Variety store. They were ten cents a box I think. Anyway, a roll of explosive caps had hundreds of shots in them. It was just like in the movies. We could shoot a hundred times at the enemies and not have to reload. That was the way the cowboys in the movies did it, wasnít it? Those guys never ran out of bullets. They could chase the bad guys through the rocks and hills, shooting a hundred times from a simple six shooter. Now that one always puzzled me. A six-shooter firing a hundred times without reloading? But the good guys always had those kind of guns. And we did too.
I always liked it when the good guy was friendly to the Indians. I always thought the Indians got a raw deal in the movies. Since many of my best friends were Indian boys, I never did like to see them come out on the losing end. I always pulled for the Indians. I still do.
On one occasion, I watched a movie where the good guy was friendly to the Indians. I donít remember the particulars of the movie, or even who the cowboy star was, but there was one scene in the movie that made a powerful impact on me and I sealed the scene away in my mind and vowed that Iíd do what the cowboy and the chief of the Indians did in the movie.
The scene was one where the good guy helped the Indians win a war against a bunch of bad guys. He had risked his life to help out the Indians thereby saving the necks of the original Americans. The scene was one where the Indian chief and the good guy ceremoniously became blood brothers.
The Indian chief was the one who initiated the ceremony. The chief took a knife and made a cut in his flesh on the inside of his forearm, about half way between his wrist and elbow. He then handed the knife to the good guy cowboy, who in turn made a cut in the same spot on his arm. The ceremony included a vow of friendship while the two touched the bleeding arms, mingling their blood together. The Indian chief declared the two were blood brothers, sealing it with blood vow of lifetime friendship between the two. I was impressed by that because I liked the idea of a lifetime of friendship. I vowed that I would do that one day.
Several years after that, I was playing basketball with Kenneth Kauley at his house, which was just a half mile from my house. During a break in the action, I told Kenneth about the movie and what I had observed the cowboy and the Indian chief doing. We talked about our friendship with each other and decided that we wanted to seal it with the vow of becoming blood brothers.
I had an old dull Boyís Scout knife in my pocket. A Boyís Scout knife only has one cutting blade, the rest of the stuff in a Scout knife is a can opener, a screw driver, a file, and some additional stuff useful for camping. It is something like the Swiss Army knife except itís not as elaborately made.
To be frank, I was a little nervous about the ceremony, but I desperately wanted to have a genuine blood brother. We took the knife and reenacted the ceremony I had seen in the movie. Since the knife wasnít very sharp, we had to do a little bit of sawing on our arm before we could get the blood to flowing. But we did manage to draw the blood.
We placed our arms together and mingled the blood, declaring ourselves to be genuine blood brothers. We sealed it with a vow of lifetime friendship. Honestly, it was a high moment for me. It was for Kenneth as well. Numerous times down through the years he and I have recalled that event and renewed our vows. It was near this time that Kenneth taught me the first words of what Cheyenne vocabulary I now possess. Friendship is for life among some. Such is the case with Kenneth Kauley and me.