Are you ready for some fun? The “bouncing ball” in this case does not include a sharp-hit liner to the shortstop. Instead, it was the singing of songs at the movie houses. Oh what fun it delivered. Some of the fun came from following the bouncing ball connecting to the words of the song. And if you never had sung in a shower prior to this experience, you were among many friends with voices that varied both in volume and talent.

Ready? Here’s the song: “I Ain’t Got No-body, and no-body cares for me.” Just follow the big red ball as it touches the lyrics written on the screen. Easy, yes. Fun? Ya betcha. It was the karaoke of it’s time.

The bouncing ball was named and invented by a gent named Max Fleischer. And in today’s world of music, the kids can choose from 100 Singalong Songs of Kids, 100 Best Bible Songs and, if you wish to add the Disney Touch, Professor Owl and Jiminy Cricket are available to entertain the kids and maybe some adults, too.

As to theaters, we had three of them in town. The Paramount was the top of the class complete with a quite a huge entry area along with the popcorn machine and counters of goodies.

The Eastman was much smaller, more in the style of today’s theaters. And the third was the Grand, which was our Western movie hangout place on Saturdays. Both the Grand and Paramount had balcony seating; however, at certain times when smaller crowds were expected, the upstairs areas were closed off.

Going to a movie was a thrilling experience. Often, the movies were shuttled to the last part of an hour-and-a-half session following the RKO news and a cartoon or two. I always got a kick out of the Road Runner and Bugs Bunny. And because of the Grand’s showing of westerns, Saturday matinees often included a serial that would entice us to come back the following Saturday to see what happened to the cowboy hero who got lassoed and tied up and left tied to the railroad tracks as a train was approaching. We’d think long and hard as to whether our hero was going to get run over, or if some stroke of luck find him removed in time to avoid an accident. And we’d be back with our fifteen cents the following Saturday and, as luck would have it, the Lone Ranger arrived in time to untie Tonto prior to the train racing by. It was P.T. Barnum who said something like “a sucker is born every minute.” We kids didn’t mind being the sucker when everything worked out for the good. Remember, too, that we could always tell the good and bad guys by the color of the hats they wore.

As to the Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, Betty Grable and Esther Williams, classical movies were often full of surprises and romances. The one movie that still sticks in my mind as one of the best ever seen was “Northwest Mounted Police” in Technicolor. It featured Gary Cooper, Preston Foster and Paulette Goddard. The 1940 movie was a production of Cecil B. DeMille who became one of the giants in silver screen coloring.

Back then almost all of the movies ended on a good note. I guess you could call it serendipity. The good guys always won out. The good looking jock got the beautiful blonde.

And everything just made you feel good when the final credits for the movies were shown. I now look back and wonder if we felt that life was always a win-win situation back then and that our lives would flow along like the movies. It didn’t take too long before movies became more realistic.

  • A fact or a fancy. Most of us don’t realize how versatile women can be when it comes to driving a car. Many of them can drive from either the front seat or the back seat.
  • Just a thought: Telephones were black, bathtubs were white, computers were not personal, and we thought people of the age we are now were dead.
  • Tennis shoes were canvas things you wore for gym class and wouldn’t be caught dead in otherwise.
  • Voice mail was talking over the backyard fence.
  • Children were to be seen but not heard.
  • If you got in trouble in school, you were in even more trouble at home.
  • The young wife was drying off from her morning shower when she heard the back door slam. Thinking it was her husband, she called out: “I’m in here darling. I’ve been waiting for you.” To which a deep voice answered: “I think you ought to know lady I’m not your regular milkman.”
  • You won’t hate yourself in the morning if you sleep till noon.
  • It isn’t bad taste to inquire whether you are in the will of a suicidal person.
  • Death is nature’s way of telling you to slow down.

Steve Henry is a former radio and TV news director, and outdoor writer and photographer. He can be reached at


Chippewa Herald editor

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.