Going to the movies as a youngster was always a very special treat. It was extraordinarily exciting the day we learned the Vogue Theater in a nearby town was going to have a special showing of the movie the Song of Bernadette for all the students in the small parochial school our family attended. We would have normal classes in the morning but right after we finished eating our lunches, usually bologna sandwiches and apples from our dinner pails, it would be time to leave to spend the afternoon in a darkened theater.
We had no school bus. The problem of finding transportation for approximately sixty students and five teachers was solved when a local trucker offered to take as many as would fit in the back of his open stock truck.
The long awaited day arrived. Dark clouds, thunder and lightning filled the skies as we arrived at school and soon the rains poured down. It was predicted to last all day. A few cars were waiting outside the school building when it was time to leave for Remsen. We worried the rains may make it impossible for us to ride in the truck, but it was there, parked in the middle of the street. The trucker had put a roof over the open rack by rigging a canvas across the top, tied down with stout ropes. We climbed aboard to sit on planks laid across stacks of concrete blocks.
There were a few rips in the canvas so we didn't stay entirely dry, but what fun we had trying to stay out of the way of the rivulets of rain finding their way through our army-green umbrella. If enough rain wasn't coming through the weak spots in the canvas to suit the boys, they would climb on one of the seats to push it up in spots where puddles had gathered forcing the water to find its way inside. I suppose there was at least one adult riding with us but my siblings and I don't remember anyone getting in trouble for helping to wet us down.
A few of the younger or meeker students may have gone by car that afternoon, and that must be how the teachers traveled. There were no Sisters in the truck with us but they had watched us climb into it and when we climbed out of it at the theater, there they were, standing under their black umbrellas waiting for us.
The movie could have been anti-climactic after the excitement of the ride to the theater, but it was not. Seeing movies was not something we were able to do with any regularity so even if we had not liked the story, seeing the live action on the screen would have probably been enough to satisfy us.
The theater was filled by the time all of us had found seats. Then the lights were turned down, music began playing and the long curtains covering the screen were drawn back. The movie began. We all knew the story of the Virgin Mary appearing to a little girl in Lourdes, France. It was inspiring to hear it again and to get an idea of what it must have been like for that little girl as she struggled to convince her family and community that she had been the witness to an apparition.
My siblings, like me, have no memory of anything about the return trip to school. It may have been because we had so much to think about, or because by then we were worn out. I do remember being almost blinded by the daylight when we came out of the theater. The rain had apparently stopped.
Our truck-riding adventure replayed today would certainly be the source of a major news story and maybe even some arrests. Thank goodness all the bad stuff that could have happened with a truckload of kids on a public highway didn't. There were certainly no seat belts in that stock truck.
We are much more safety conscious now. So much so that an acquaintance confessed recently that she went into a theater and looked for a seat belt to buckle when she sat down. She has established a good habit but that may be carrying it a bit far.