Cowboy movies, rationing and a Mayonnaise sandwich

In the 40s when I was growing up, small towns were pretty safe. You could walk to the store, movies, school or a friends house and not have to worry about anything. My folks never locked their car or the house. People were more respectful of others property and we all knew almost everyone in town. On Saturday mornings you could find almost every kid in town at the LaRita Theatre for the cowboy movies and an episode of the serial.
My favorite was Rocketman. We could hardly wait till the next Saturday to see what was going to happen. I would put that as an equal to todays Soap Opera, it always ended in a cliff hanger. We could get into the movie for ten cents and we would get popcorn and Mallo Cups and hope we could get the seat at the end of certain rows that fit two kids. You didn’t have to leave when the movie was over so we often sat and watched it two or three times before we finally went home. Is there someone who remembers watching Gene Autry, Johnny Mack Brown, Lash LaRue, Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers saving the town from the bad guys in the black hats? One thing we did that you don’t see today was our reaction to what was happening. When the bad guys came in you could hear a big “Boo” and when the good guy captured the bad ones there was applause and clapping. If an adult wanted to see the show they just had to put up with the reactions. We had another theatre that was more for the adults and the movies with the famous stars, but Saturdays at the LaRita was for the kids. I will never forget seeing “The Thing from Another World” and when the box in the greenhouse opened and the dead animal fell out I must have come off that seat two feet. If you haven’t seen that movie and don’t know the greenhouse scene you really need to see it sometime.
Cowboy Classics 100 MoviePack

After the movies, most of us had a parent who worked or had a business downtown and we’d certainly visit, hoping for enough money for ice cream, of course. Then we’d replay the movie on the way home. Like I said we walked, skated or rode bikes everywhere. We knew when we were expected to be home and that was usually accomplished rather than the threat of a good spanking if we weren’t home for supper. I don’t remember any of my friends who had a working mother. They were always home, cooking, taking care of the home and siblings or sewing. My mom made a lot of the clothes I wore. I remember at one point I decided I didn’t want to wear home made things but my dad set me straight on that subject. When I was real little I remember us having several couples living in our front bedroom. Not all at once but the room was always rented. We had an Army-Air Force Base outside of town and with the war on, there was always a need for room rentals for the people from the base. The war caused families to tighten their belts, rationing was a way to distribute diminishing food supplies. The American government encouraged homeowners to create small plots of fruits and vegetables to supplement personal and community food supplies, and they were called Victory Gardens. I offered a Mayonnaise sandwich to my grandson the other day and he was not too impressed. Mayo sandwiches were great snacks for all the 40s kids. Food was needed to feed soldiers fighting World War II. The farmers and food manufacturers were tapped to supply growing military needs, thus creating a shortage of foods available for the ordinary family, which meant no meat or cheese for sandwiches. SPAM was called the “wartime food” of the 1940’s and that was usually on sandwiches for a family meal. My mom had several recipes for making SPAM seem a little less like what it really was. To this day I still like SPAM and always have several cans in the cabinet.

NOTE: I recently had a list of great sites to find SPAM recipes. See


  • Ann, I really like your new “Memories” format. Love the first-hand history info! I’ve always heard about Victory Gardens, but never really thought about its origin. Great stuff! Looking forward to more.

  • Ann

    Hey Marissa, thanks for dropping by. Its kind of fun remembering things long forgotten and putting them down.