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PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:03 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 11:41 am
Posts: 1231
MY AGE AT THE TME +/- 10 years old

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday were days to look forward to going to the movies on Sunday, specifically at the “Boulevard” theater or the (my favorite) “Rialto”. What lofty days those were.

The “Boulevard was located about where the Crystal Casino is today and was the place for special movies such as swashbucklers and Epics staring Stewart Granger or Errol Flynn. Swords, guns and mountainous horses carrying heroes and pulling wagon trains are what I saw there. That theater filled my child eyes with multi-sailed galleons and cannons blazing out the sides. More than once, I looked at that screen and saw the hero standing alone against a backdrop and looking at his accomplishments with their eyes blazing and hair fluffing from breezes that actually came from large fans blowing behind the camera. No one needed to tell me the story or its meaning. It wasn’t important. But know this – I whittled wooden swords and carved wooden pistols to try and be a little like “The hero on the screen.” Like I said – “What lofty days those were.”

Going to the Boulevard meant wearing starched and ironed pants and shirts and when the movie dream ended, the walk to the Trocadero restaurant next door was home to my other dream – croquettes dipped in golden mustard from a little pot that sat on the table. The walk home was along the sea and the many little fruit boats that hovered there with resting sailors in hammocks. The current Seaport area was not there. There was only a long stretch of coast all the way to the canal inlet and the small island where the governor’s house sat and still does. Now there are two canals and an island. One canal goes into a hotel and has circulating water. The new island is a land fill where the queen stands in marble splendor watching her island. The original canal is stagnant and the water does not flow freely. Changes are not always good.

But for me, the very best on the silver screen came from the Rialto Theater which was more in the center of town. The Rialto was a hidden Gem. My best friend Dennis Henriquez (currently a professor of calculus in Holland) felt that this movie house was built just for us. Perhaps he still thinks that – who knows.

The Rialto was more of “movie house” and not a theater - in the sense that it wasn’t fancy. The floors crunched with peanut shells and the seats were long rows of high fold-down wood. The Rialto was dark before the lights were turned down and an abyss when they were off. The only sign of life was flickering on the furthest wall to the South. The Lone Ranger, Cisco Kid, Durango Kid, Gene Autry and a host of other horse-riding good-guys leapt on to that wall and whispered to Dennis, sitting right next to me, “Tell that skinny kid we are her for you two”. Or so he would have me to believe and future calculus professors do not lie.

Sound crackled from ‘maybe’ two speakers in the front and was unmistakably the sounds made by our heroes and their steeds. Durango Kid (a Western Robin Hood) dressed in black and rode a black horse with a black saddle. He wore a black bandana and when doing good deeds and pulled the black bandana up over his face so as to not be recognized – and I joyously believed it. Taking into consideration that the movies were all black and white made it all the better. I (more than once) asked what happened to Gene Audrey’s guitar when he was chasing bad guys. There was never an adequate response. Ole Gene would be riding along singing and encounter trouble. Look at his trusty steed and say something like – “C’mon girl, we have work to do” and then POOFF the guitar would disappear.

Our hands mechanically broke toasted peanut shells as our heroes came to life before us. Our feet dangled from the wooden folding seats and we were happy, truly happy. It is amazing how that worked.

Sunday afternoon my mother would remind me that I was a good kid and gave me a handkerchief with the ends tied in a knot. Inside of this knotted kerchief was “Movie-money”. It was my ticket to happiness. Simplicity at it’s’ best. I would get to the movies and give the lady at the ticket window the handkerchief and she would undo the knots and give me change so I could buy peanuts and Toddy afterwards.

In all of this movie memory - the one event that I remembered most was on a particular Sunday when the Durango Kid was going to play. On that Sunday, I put on my khaki shorts and t-shirt and ran downstairs to meet my friend Dennis. Excitement filled every pore as we headed off to the Rialto. Dennis stood at the window and paid with his handkerchief (mothers are all alike) and I dug into my pocket. It wasn’t there. The handkerchief was at home on the table by the bed. The ticket lady looked at me and said – “Bisa Elka pagami mayan” - “Tell Elka to pay me tomorrow” and then gave me peanut and Toddy money from her purse. NOTE: Elka was (may she rest in peace) one of my Grandmothers – I had two and will explain that some other time.
Somehow it seemed normal – what the ticket lady did I mean. It seemed like a part of living here on this island and a part of going to the movies and a part of Sunday – being a religious day and all that stuff and a part of the Rialto. So I went in and lost myself in horses and heroes dressed in black and as easily as I accepted the event that let me into the Rialto that Sunday, I forgot to tell my Grandmother. Not known to me, she, the ticket lady, knew my grandfather and he paid my entrance and the peanut and Toddy money. Yet the wonder and the face of the ticket lady followed me for years in that I forgot to return the favor and that became unacceptable as time went on.

Same folks that had the Rialto also have the movies at the Paseo Herencia and I went there with my son about three weeks ago. He – Junior – asked for Pop Corn and then dismissed me to my task of getting it. The theater lobby was relatively empty and no one was at the candy counter. (No peanuts or Toddy) The young girl charged me and
I overpaid her with a few dollars. When she went to return the money, I smiled and walked away and have no doubt that she (the overpaid young lady) thought I was crazy and left a tip – I didn’t. It was just time to pay an old debt – even though my grandfather secretly squared it away.

I heard recently that there are more movie companies coming to Aruba. I, for one, cannot see the benefit of more.

Anyone coming into this market is not competing with the existing movie houses – not at all - they will compete with a professor of calculus in Holland who assured me that this movie house was built just for us. As you know, professors of calculus do not lie.

There was a time when our hands mechanically broke toasted peanut shells as our heroes came to life before us. Now our children dig into Pop Corn.

Our feet dangled from the wooden folding seats and we were happy, truly happy. Now - my son sits on comfy seats as he marvels at his space heroes and laughs with his talking dog.

And I remember lady that stood behind the ticket counter window at the Rialto Theater many years ago. I remember the toasted peanuts and the ‘Toddy’ afterwards and I know that by going to the movies at the Paseo Herencia or the other theaters that are offspring of the Rialto that I am going to something that is family. Not “people family” but “Aruba Island Family” and I know that it has a long history that is represented (at least to me) by the soft face at the ticket window so many years ago.

be well

It was mentioned to me that this might sound like a plug or seem to have special motives or interests. These are memories of my childhood on this island - nothing more and nothing less.

PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:18 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 27, 2008 2:47 pm
Posts: 2
I'm new here. You posted this on my 60 th birthday and must have been reading my old Diary,

PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 9:36 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 26, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 1479
Location: Boston
Thanks Charles , your stories always put a smile on my face. :)

Aruba January 10, 2017 - April 10, 2017


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