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When I Was a Boy…


My nephew turned five last week.  For his birthday he watched Star Wars for the first time. (Star Wars was the first movie I remember seeing in the movie theater as a kid; it was released a few days before I turned six.) There was a Jedi training session in Inwood Park and then there was the screening.  My nephew has been talking about the movie for weeks.  He even had a favorite character–Chewy. But his friends were more interested in his toys so they didn’t actually watch much of the movie.  The real screening took place the next day and I arrived minutes before the Death Star was blown to smithereens.

A few days earlier, I stopped by the electric circus known as Toys R Us in Times Square to pick up a present.  I headed to the Star Wars area and was dismayed; I could hardly find anything that had to do with the original movie (though I did eventually find one box that contained small figurines of Obi Wan, Luke and the two droids).  When I got home and told my wife Emily how shocked I was at the lack of toys from the original movie, she turned to me, and in her best Alice Kramden said, “Sweetheart, that movie came out over thirty years ago.”

I looked at her blankly.  Blinked.  Then I unpacked the toys, took out my teeth, changed my diaper and went to bed.  It was four in the afternoon.

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1 jonnystrongleg   ~  May 19, 2009 3:38 pm

Alex, forgive me for being obtuse, but by "screening" you mean a private viewing arranged by your brother, not an actual public screening in Inwood Park correct? Because I would hate to have missed that happening right under my nose.

I dig those little figures you are talking about - I've been getting them for my sons, and I'm sure they'll appreciate them in a few years when they turn 3 and 4.

2 thelarmis   ~  May 19, 2009 3:48 pm

"I looked at her blankly. Blinked. Then I unpacked the toys, took out my teeth, changed my diaper and went to bed. It was four in the afternoon."

holy freaking hilarious!!! : )

3 rbj   ~  May 19, 2009 4:00 pm

Make sure you yell at those damn kids to stay off your lawn.

IIRC, I was twelve at the time. And it took about a month before I was able to see it, the lines were so long. You see, sonny (sound of old guy tooth whistle) back in my day we had one, maybe two, blockbuster movies every summer. And they stayed in the theaters the whole summer. Not like today where if you miss opening weekend it's gone. But that's because movies were better back in the day. . .

4 RagingTartabull   ~  May 19, 2009 4:02 pm

whoa whoa whoa, I live across the street from Inwood Hill Park. If there was some sort of Jedi training session no one told me about, I'm going to be very upset.

5 Just Fair   ~  May 19, 2009 4:06 pm

I'll never forget my grandpa taking me to see Empire Strikes back. I was about 5 and I couldn't believe how he slept throught the whole thing. : )

6 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  May 19, 2009 4:11 pm

"...Everything was right. Every-thing was riggght."

7 Cliff Corcoran   ~  May 19, 2009 4:16 pm

Funny, Just Fair, I think I slept through most of Empire at that age (which is my first movie-going memory). My only memories from that viewing are the fish chasing R2 through the swamp and Luke hanging from the bottom of Cloud City (at the time, I thought he was hanging from a telephone pole). When they rereleased the films in '97, I saw Empire at Ziegfelds in the theater district. Biggest screen I've ever seen, and I sat as close as my eyes could handle. It was better than IMAX.

8 RIYank   ~  May 19, 2009 4:21 pm

I'm going to bookmark this entry, because everyone implicitly tells us how old they are. I guess I had better admit that my first movie memory (I was only three but it's fairly vivid) is "Mary Poppins". Some of the tunes still run through my head though I haven't watched in since. Man.

9 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  May 19, 2009 4:28 pm

I was four when Star Wars came out. I saw it three times. It's the first movie I remember seeing. Totally blew me away and created the mythic material for my whole childhood. Well, that and baseball, a few years later.

I also remember seeing Close Encounters and Star Trek, which came out around the same time, as I recall.

10 RIYank   ~  May 19, 2009 4:28 pm

From the SWB Times-Trib blog (Chad Jennings):

Chien-Ming Wang's locker is cleared out and he's not listed on the upcoming Scranton/Wilkes-Barre rotation.

Is he driving with Michael Scott to corporate, or jetting to Tampa?

11 jonnystrongleg   ~  May 19, 2009 4:29 pm

[7] Did you take a sedative before the movie? At 5 years old, my friends and I saw Empire half a dozen times and could act out the entire thing in the living room on the odd nights we weren't at the theater.

12 OldYanksFan   ~  May 19, 2009 4:43 pm

Mary Poppins was a MUCH better movie then Star Wars. Alex, maybe you can get some Mary Poppins figurines?

13 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  May 19, 2009 4:47 pm

[7] My mom used to take me to see movies at Radio City. It was awesome. I remember seeing Fantasia, Pete's Dragon, Lassie and some others there.

The good old days.

14 Shaun P.   ~  May 19, 2009 4:49 pm

I was born a few months after Star Wars came out, so I sadly have no memories of it's original appearance, or that of Empire. I do remember hearing about ROTJ, and then watching the Droids cartoon and the Ewoks cartoon . . . not quite the same. Knowing that Star Wars came out so long ago doesn't make me feel too old. Picking up the latest Star Wars novel, and finding an over-60 Han and Leia having grandchildren - THAT makes me feel old.

[0] Alex, you should have told Emily that "The Honeymooners" came out over fifty years ago. ;)

15 PJ   ~  May 19, 2009 4:50 pm

[0] "I looked at her blankly. Blinked. Then I unpacked the toys, took out my teeth, changed my diaper and went to bed. It was four in the afternoon."

What, no early bird special?


: )

16 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  May 19, 2009 4:53 pm

[14] Oh, ho, wo, BANG, ZOOM!

17 thelarmis   ~  May 19, 2009 4:55 pm

[8] well, if we're gonna date ourselves, i think Close Encounters of the Third Kind, was my first movie memory. i was little. i also remember my parents taking my brother and me to see Hair. i sure wasn't ready for that... : /

18 benvolio   ~  May 19, 2009 4:58 pm

I bought the trilogy VHS tapes the moment they were released (late 80s, iirc, and they were all released at once), watched 'em each one time and kept 'em in my video cupboard. My idea that they'd be classics I'd frequently revisit never came to pass.

Three years ago, in a frenzy of clutter-clearing, I decided to put 'em up on ebay to get rid of them. Mind you, these were full-screen pan-n-scan format, no redone fx, no beefed up soundtrack, no nutthin. I listed them as a three-fer for a buck, figuring nobody but nobody would care about my prehistoric lame-ass castoffs. The auction closed at over $150. I was certainly well pleased.

I won't say how old I was when the first one was in theatres.

19 tommyl   ~  May 19, 2009 4:59 pm

Just get yourself one of those supercool $100 lightsabers that look real in the dark. That'll show the wife and them darn kids.

20 RIYank   ~  May 19, 2009 5:07 pm

I'm afraid Mattpat is going to show up and say the first movie he remembers is Jurassic Park, and then I'll have to take out my teeth, etc.

21 Cliff Corcoran   ~  May 19, 2009 5:13 pm

Damn, benvolio, I have that VHS trilogy downstairs . . . $150 you say? Seeing as I got the recent one-off DVDs with the original theatrical releases in wide-screen, there's no reason for me to keep the VHS set if I can get some real money for it. Think I could still get a good price three years hence?

22 Cliff Corcoran   ~  May 19, 2009 5:17 pm

Meh. Checking eBay now, those sets all seem to have buy-now prices around $20. Oh well.

23 Horace Clarke Era   ~  May 19, 2009 5:18 pm

OY, RI, and Me down by the schoolyard...

I remember Mary Poppins very well. Almost as well as I remember Horace Clarke... who came up (I cheated and checked) the next year!

Alas. Julie Andrews got vetoed for My Fair Lady despite having done it on Broadway, then won the Oscar over Audrey Hepburn for the role she backed into: Mary Poppins.

Never wanted ANYTHING negative to happen to Audrey, one of the very great women, but this particular development was:


24 Raf   ~  May 19, 2009 5:49 pm

Audrey Hepburn was Supercalifragilisticexpialidoceous :)

First movie I remember seeing? Cannonball Run with my dad on Main St, in New Rochelle

25 Raf   ~  May 19, 2009 5:50 pm

No, scratch that, it was "Fiddler on the Roof, with Ma on Tremont Ave.

26 tocho   ~  May 19, 2009 6:03 pm

I gave the gift of Star Wars to my little boy when he turned 3 (he's almost 5 now) and we haven't looked back. We play almost every day with the star wars toys. Of course now we have 6 movies to go through (plus the clone wars), so we have a lot of material to talk about. I should say we have 5 movies 'cause he's not allowed to watch Episode III yet.

What strikes me is that he has seen all 5 movies and still prefers the original trilogy, his favorite is Empire Strikes Back.

I still struggle to come up with an answer as to who is the father of anakin, he doesn't seem convinced on the story of the midiclorians... me either.

Alex, you can still find some toys from the original movies... other versions of the toys but you can buy Darth Vaders, lukes, obis, bobba fetts, etc. 5-year olds can play with any star wars toy.

27 The Hawk   ~  May 19, 2009 6:33 pm

I like Star Wars.

28 Alex Belth   ~  May 19, 2009 10:05 pm

Dude, my mom took me to see Cannonball Run. That was great. Loved that movie.

29 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  May 19, 2009 10:32 pm

Wayy late here but what the heck. I was 3 when Star Wars came out. Only saw it in college, couldn't dig it.. always liked Star Trek more as used to watch that on tv with my dad...

first movie was "The Cisco Kid" with Gene Wilder as a hasidic Jew going across country with Harrison Ford in the Wild West days..high concept comedy form Hollywood back then, eh? My dad took me to see it at the Ave J theater in Midwood, Brooklyn, round the corner from my house. I remember the popcorn more than any of the movie..

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