Sunday, August 16, 2009
Ma and Pa Kettle Down on The Farm
Growing up in a small town, you learned to look forward to Saturday matinees. They were double features, with a newsreel or two, and several Looney-Tunes cartoons with the Warner Bros. signature. Tom and Jerry, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Woody Woodpecker, Porky Pig and a host of Disney characters that we looked forward to. In fact, we counted the week off by days toward Saturday afternoon. We gathered at the Boyd (the only one to survive the wrecking ball), Nile, or College theaters in Bethlehem, PA. My favorite was the College Theater, because if you got there early enough, you could sit in the mohair seats or couch in the balcony, in front of an etched blue glass coffee table, in front of the normal balcony seats. You felt special sitting there, and yes, you guessed it--we always got there early enough for our group to have these special seats. In the early 1950s, the cost of this entertainment was a quarter. Mid-1950s, inflation raised the price to fifty cents (and did we whine). Those good old days...
Which brings me to Ma and Pa Kettle--they were one of my favorite series, along with Francis the Talking Mule, The Thin Man and the Topper films. In the good old days, Hollywood knew how to take a movie and develop it into a money-making series. Today, sitting on our back porch, which doubles in actual use as a front porch (the Chinese would understand this duality), Mickey and I morphed in my imagination into Ma and Pa Kettle. We often joke about it, but only our generations know the reference. Here sits Pa Kettle, down home on the farm. I really look like Ma Kettle today in my baggy jeans and hair curlers, but, you guessed it again, I wasn't letting Mickey snap that photo. And when Mickey reads this blog, I know he will remind me that our farm bears no resemblance to the one the Kettles and their children inhabited. The Kettles just, as all good movies do, sometimes touch our hearts and always our funny bones, reminding us just a bit of ourselves.
Ma and Pa Kettle