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from TRAVELING ON A WING AND A PRAYER by CORA ANN

Copyright © 2020 CORA ANN

A CHILDHOOD TRAUMA
The movie that scarred me for life

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON

I remember when my sister Rose took me to see The Creature from the Black Lagoon. It was one of those B-grade horror movies back in the day. Almost everyone in the neighborhood awaited its arrival due to the wide-spread hype. It was scheduled to be shown at the Gallo Theater located on Claiborne Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. From 1946 to the early 1980s, the Gallo Theater was the city's premier motion picture theater for African Americans. Sadly, this beloved landmark was demolished in 2007.

I was about five years old at the time, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed in all my childhood naivete. Now, I don't know if my parents even knew that this was a horror movie Rose was taking me to. Looking back, I find it odd that they would allow me to be subjected to such a frightening experience at my young age. Come to think of it, I believe Rose taking me to this horror movie amounted to some type of child abuse in its purest form.

I remember leaving home with Rose and walking the six blocks to the theater. It was a hot, muggy Saturday morning. The sun's brutal heat had me sweating by the time we arrived. I was not in the mood for any movie. I really wanted to stay home and play with my toys or sit on the front porch and do some stuff in my coloring books. Yet for some reason, my mama put Rose in charge of me that day, sadly to my detriment.

When we arrived at the theater, I was not surprised at the long line of excited kids and unemotional adults waiting to get in. After Rose got in line to pay for our tickets, she hustled me through the entrance double doors. Then she grabbed my hand and led me to the concession stand, where she bought each of us a cold drink and a large box of buttered popcorn that we shared.

We went through another set of double doors leading to the interior of the theater, which was almost pitch black. This was a big contrast from the blinding sunlight I had left behind. But I welcomed the airconditioner's coolness which had settled throughout the theater. Then Rose quickly led me to our seats in the middle of a row where we had a good view of the gigantic screen. I noticed that a few adults and kids of all ages filled the theater. The air buzzed with their excitement of what was to come.

Right after the cartoons and news updates flashed across the screen, we all stood for the National Anthem. Then, the movie started. A hush fell over the audience. The haunting, dreary music so typical of horror movies back then blasted through the huge speakers on each side of the stage. The music was so loud and its bass so intense that it shook my little bony ass to the core. ...






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