During the early to mid twentieth century the automobile changed life in America. This
is especially true of the dating habits of the youth. Prior to the advent of the automobile
dating usually meant visiting your girl at her house or meeting at a friends house to play
parlor games, or maybe attending a church social, which was a big event in any community.
The motion picture show came along about the same time as the automobile and also
made a big impact on our lives. Now, a young man, if he was lucky, could borrow the
car from dad on Saturday night and take his girl to town to see a movie. There was no
dating during the week. During the school year you had to study and during the summer
there was work to be done on the farm. You were also lucky to get a dollar to go once a
week, fifteen cents for a ticket, nickel for popcorn and a dime for a big drink for each of you.
What really connected the automobile and movies was the introduction of the drive-in
movie theater. These became popular here around 1950. By this time more people were
living in town than on the farm and there was more free time during the week to go to the movies.
After the drive-in came to town the price of tickets increased, however the drive-in had a
special for a long time of fifty cents a car load on Wednesday nights. This really made
double dating popular because now four or more could get into the show for what it
would cost one person the rest of the week.
After watching the show, then you would get in the car and ‘cruise the square.’ Before
the oneway streets were put in and the sidewalks extended on each corner of the
courthouse square, you could circle the square and not be bothered with having to stop
for the red lights as long as you stayed in the lane next to the cars parked at the curb. The
usual procedure was to circle the square two or three times to see who was there and then
find a parking place so you could sit and be seen by others cruising around and show your
car off. Sometimes there would be as many as six or eight cars circling the square at a time.
One Saturday night a young man and his date were cruising the square after the show, the
girl was sitting next to the young man and he had his arm around her. As they circled the
square there was a policeman standing on one corner. As they drove by the second time
the officer called out to the young man, “Hey sonny, how abut using both hands.”
“I can’t,” the young man replied. “I need one to drive with.”
That's the way it was, small town Saturday Night!
Johnson County Courthouse - Cleburne, Texas
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