THE INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES
Oral History Office
SUBJECT: Movie Theaters
INTERVIEW WITH: Ruth Lich (Tape 1 of 1)
DATE: 30 April 2001
PLACE: Comfort, Texas
INTERVIEWER: Renee McNiel
TAPE 1, SIDE 1
M: This is Renee McNiel; graduate student at UTSA. Today is 30 April 2001, Monday. We’re at the home of Ruth and Elmer Lich in Comfort, Texas, off Cypress Creek Road. I’m interviewing Ruth Lich. And this is sponsored by the Institute of Texan Cultures, by the Museum Studies Class at UTSA. The purpose is for exhibits on San Antonio movie theaters. So, you’ve been to the Majestic Theater?
L: Yes, I have.
M: Can you tell me when?
L: It probably was in the late 30s. I would say between 1937 and 1940, in there.
M: Uh-huh. Do you remember what movie you saw?
L: No, I do not remember what movie I saw. But the greatest thing, I think, fascinated...that fascinated me was being a country girl going to a big city, spending with my aunt and uncle and cousins. My cousins took me over to the theater, and when I got in there it was like a new world. ‘Cause there were stars and clouds, and it was such Ruth Lich 2
a unique feeling being indoors and still I saw heaven and I L: saw the stars and clouds. And I think that fascinated me more than anything else. And I do not remember what kind of show was showing, but I’m sure it was a black and white film.
L: And I think we did eat some popcorn and got us something to drink. And that was when popcorn was still a nickel a bag, and your drink was a nickel a bottle. And so we just had a good time.
M: Do you remember how much you paid to get in?
L: At that time, I feel like it may have...would have been twenty cents or a quarter – something like that. It was very, very reasonable. And I didn’t pay for it; it was a treat from the cousins of mine.
M: Do you remember what day you went? Like Saturday – what week-day?
L: It was...I went to San Antonio and spent a week with them. And usually it was Saturday when they had...the cousins had the right to go and do something special, you know. And since I...I feel like since I was a girl from the country, they wanted to show me what San Antonio looked like. And another thing, if I may add. My first ice cream cone that...the ice cream that...like Dairy Crème is serving now that – a cone like that. There was a Woolworth’s store Ruth Lich 3
within that vicinity, and I got my first ice cream cone there. And I thought, “Oh, my God, I got the world by the L: tail.” I’d never had that type of opportunity.
M: So there were many novelties in one day?
L: In one day. Absolutely.
M: Being young and going to the theater, were you aware of any racial discriminations?
L: Not at that time. Not at that time. There weren’t too many Spanish people there, and there weren’t too many colored people.
L: Or that I remember. I remember the neighborhood that they lived in, those were all whites, but no...
M: Oh, I mean within the theater.
L: I think it was very far and few between, at that time.
M: Uh-huh. Do you remember like what kind of a...was there any show or any preview or something before the film?
L: If I remember it was...I think it was a MGM - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer - what it’s called – the lion, you know, that was...
L: I think it was that type of show. And put out by that production there at the time.
M: So they had the MGM lion. What about any little show or anything? Do you remember anything?Ruth Lich 4
L: Well, I think they did have some cartoons.
L: And I don’t remember what cartoon. But I think at that L: period of time it was Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse and in that era.
M: Well, Mrs. Lich, is there anything else you’d like to ask...tell me about? Or just add to it?
L: Yeah, I would like to add to it. That was my first street bus ride – to go down to the theater. If I remember correctly, my aunt and uncle lived in the south part of San Antonio and they took us down to South Presa Street and we took the bus into San Antonio. We had to exchange and went down Houston Street. And I remember that was the first bus ride or street bus ride I’d ever had. After the theater we did go to Wal-Mart – whoops – not Wal-Mart – Wool –
L: Woolworth’s. And from there we had our ice cream treat and caught the bus and went back to South Presa Street. But the bus stopped and they picked us up.
M: Do you remember what the bus looked like? Like what kind of seats you sat in or...?
L: Those buses at that time were similar to what they’ve got now, but they were older models. But the seats were similar to what the new VIA buses are now, not too much of a great change.Ruth Lich 5
M: What about, like the color of the bus or the style? Is ...?
L: It was not as fancy as they are now. It was just a plain looking bus. And it did carry passengers. And I
L: think we rode down for a nickel per person.
M: Wow. Times have changed.
L: It sure has.
M: Do you remember, like, what you wore? Did you...you know, a fancier dress-up or anything to go to the theater?
L: Well, at that time we did have...all of the fancy clothes we wore was comfortable and clean. Just a plain cotton dress. We weren’t allowed to wear pants to school at that time.
M: Do you remember what color dress you wore?
L: No, I sure don’t.
M: Okay, was there anything else? You think...can you think about?
L: Not right off-hand, right now. But the only thing I remember - it still sticks with me – is the beauty of that theater, being indoors, seeing the stars and seeing the clouds.
M: I understand recently you went to a play there. How did you feel then? As you went back into the theater.
L: It brought back some memories about the sky and the stars and the clouds and the... We sat up in the balcony Ruth Lich 6
and we watched the program and it was beautiful. But, oh, something else that I never thought, or saw, at that time was the art work. The woodwork in this theater. And nowadays it is just magnificent. The woodwork hand carved, and I’m sure that it was not done by machinery at that time. L: Most likely it was done by hand.
M: Is there anything else?
L: No, not that I can recall. But I enjoyed being back there after sixty-four years.
M: Well, thank you very much.
L: You’re welcome.
END OF TAPE 1, SIDE 1.
SIDE 2 – BLANK.
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