AT THE MOVIES
It was one of those terribly hot days in Baltimore. We always had
those for about a month between July and August. They were the days
that were so hot that they made you regret ever wishing it would be
summer. That day in particular was hotter than I could remember it being.
The weatherman on the radio said it would get up to 104°!
Needless to say, it was too hot to do anything outside. But it was
also scorching in our apartment. This was 1962, and I would not live in a
place with an air conditioner for another ten years. So my brother and I decided to leave the apartment to
find someplace indoors. I suggested the drug store, because I wanted to get a soda or malt. But he
reminded me that the drug store would not let you sit there all day, especially once the afternoon rush
started. My brother instead suggested we could see a movie. It was a brilliant plan.
Movie theaters were one of the few places you could sit all day and—most important—sit in air
conditioning. In those days, you could buy one ticket and sit through both movies of a double feature.
Then, the theater would show the same two movies again after that. If you wanted to, you could sit
through them twice. Most people did not do that, but the manager at our theater, Mr. Bellow, did not mind
if you did.
That particular day, my brother and I sat through both movies twice, trying to escape the heat. We
bought three bags of popcorn and three sodas each. Then, we sat and watched The Music Man followed
by The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. We’d already seen the second movie once before. It had been at
the theater since January, because Mr. Bellow loved anything with John Wayne in it. Watching it again
was better than going outside, and at least The Music Man was new to us.
We left the theater around 8, just before the evening shows began. Mr. Bellow was expecting a
big crowd for the premier of Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, so he insisted that we leave. But we
returned the next day and saw the same two movies again, twice more. And we did it the next day too.
Finally, on the fourth day, the heat wave broke.
Still, to this day I can sing half the songs in The Music Man and quote half of John Wayne and
Jimmy Stewart’s dialogue from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance! Those memories are some of the few
I have of the heat wave of 1962, and they’re not really my memories. They’re really memories of the
screen, not memories of my life.
Select the best answers from the reading
- 1) Based on its use in paragraph 2, the word scorching most nearly mean
- very hot
- very humid
- very affordable
- 2) According to the passage, when did the narrator first live in a place with an air conditioner?
- 3) It can be assumed from the passage that the narrator saw The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
- three times
- five times
- six times
- more than 6 times
- 4) Which of the following statements best explains why the narrator and his or her brother chose to see
the same movies multiple times?
- The drug store would not let them inside.
- They wanted to avoid the heat outside.
- The manager at the theater was friendly
- They were huge fans of John Wayne
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