- Maltbie Babcock
Source: My Way – My Page
After I graduated from eighth grade at the Farm #8 School in Bocas del Toro, I was flown to Panama City to continue my high school education. That was in 1963, many years ago during the Jurassic Age. (Smile)
My parents arranged my stay at Doña Titi’s home which was located at Plaza Herrera, right in the middle of the historic area of Panama City called Casco Viejo. Doña Titi was the sister of a very close friend of my parents back in Bocas del Toro. She was a sweet lady and treated us like kings during the time we were at their house. She was a consummate cook; specially preparing Panama typical “Sancocho de gallina”, every Sunday.
While I lived at Doña Titi’s home, I was passionate with movies. I saved every nickel and dime to go to the movies during the weekends. I even slipped eating lunch at school, in order to save that money to pay my movie entrances. A movie ticket in 1963 was 35 cents and paid for two movies. They were called “dobles”, in English “doubles”.
I was crazy for Western cowboy movies. I couldn’t get enough of Gene Autry (the singing cowboy), Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Hopalong Cassidy, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, John Wayne and many others. I remember that during a pause between the two movies, the theater administration would play a Bingo game called, “Wahoo” which had a maximum prize of $15.00. In those days, that was a lot of money. I never won a cent, but the excitement to win the big one was great. Whaoos took place on Wednesdays which was the weakest day of the week, and this was a good marketing scheme to get people into the cinemas.
My favorites theaters were Teatro El Dorado and Teatro Variedades. They had the lowest fares and were only three blocks from where I lived. Teatro Variedades had air condition. Teatro El Dorado had none. Both of these theaters were located beside the Santa Ana Plaza, and were packed during Saturdays and Sundays. In those days, going to the movies was cool—real cool.
When I recently visited Santa Ana Plaza, I was pleased to see that these buildings are still standing and in pretty good shape. These are the theaters I visited when I was a teen living at Plaza Herrera during 1963. Here we go.
I was a walking movie encyclopedia in those days. After I graduated from High School, got a job and married, I detached myself from the industry. Nowadays, I rarely go to the movies. I prefer to rent movies at Blockbuster or stream them from the Internet. Years change our behavior in more ways than one. Good Day.