This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. Hard to believe I’ve any memories left for movies experiences and coming of age. Much less during the extraordinary year of 1968 that left an impression on this country, historically, and me, personally. So, for this memory download, involving one of my all-time favorite crime thrillers, with one of the greatest, most influential car chases recorded on film, let’s examine the skid mark left, shall we?
October 26, 1968: Moving to the blue-collar municipality of South Gate1 just four years prior put a different spin on life and the movies. By the final year of what’s today called “middle school”, my “junior high” didn’t exactly prepare me, outside of learning to keep my head down to avoid bullies…and a pantsing. Even with that, as Halloween approached, this now “ninth-grader” still thought he knew better. Well, for a few months, anyway.
High school would fix that soon enough…permanently.
As mentioned before, my love of reading came by way of my mother’s, yet film appreciation as art instilled care of her sisters. They’d all show up at the grand central station that was my grandmother’s house, the place I called home since age four, to talk about whatever they’d seen. Plus, those same aunts and uncles periodically took moi to the drive-in and movie theaters since I could walk. Made quite the connection, an effect that’s lasted this long.
Keenly, that company in the dark watching film seemed to enshrine it.
Heck, was even the “movie” sitter for my younger brother whenever the grandparents and/or relatives dropped the two of us kids at a Huntington Park theater while they went shopping there2. Wouldn’t have been the cinematic escapade without that familiar face sitting next to me in a low-lit hall of strangers watching a big screen. And with the talk of motion pictures ever-present, the pull to go there, with someone you knew, was manifest. That is, till it wasn’t.
Meaning, when I got to a certain age and those sought had better things to do.
Before 1968 would slip by, and my RTD bus pass for the school year expired, a change was bound to happen. Hell, why wait for someone to go with me to the movies? Yeah, nice to enjoy whatever’s playing and nudge’em at a good part, but did I really need a relative, or even a school-age chum, there? The answer was no. So when my aunts fawned over Steve McQueen’s latest, and their husbands squealed over his ’68 Mustang pounding the hills of San Francisco, that straw pulled.
- Named after South Gate Gardens on Cudahy Ranch for being south of Los Angeles proper, its history came down the usual chain of indigenous people, Spanish land grants, transition to “Americano” possession and development, incorporation, and selling of empty plots to blue-collar workers. ↩
- The early equivalent of “Going to the mall.” ↩