Health & Family

Book of cinema ticket stubs holds my memories of 1968

EDITOR'S NOTE: The tumultuous events of 1968 changed America forever. To mark the 40th anniversary, we are publishing readers' recollections.

In Pulaski, Va., my life in 1968 was like the town, nestled safely within the folds of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I was a junior in high school, and I and my friends stayed pretty much within the confines of our small town. We studied, we joined clubs, we cheered for our teams – and we went to the movies.

Almost every Saturday night we teenagers lined up at the Pulaski Theater on Main Street for our tickets.

We paid 90 cents. I saved my ticket stubs, pasting them in a big book and recording the name of the movie, the date and my companions.

On Feb. 1, 1968, I went with Steve Quesenberry to see “The President's Analyst,” and on March 15, 1968, I went to see “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.”

The rest of the movies were like that. Some good, like “Dr. Zhivago,” “In Cold Blood” and “The Thomas Crown Affair.” Some bad, like Elvis in “Live a Little, Love a Little.” Some ugly, like “Wild in the Streets.”

In February 1968, “In the Heat of the Night” played on the big screen, and I came out transformed. On April 19, Steve and I had to pay $1 to see “Bonnie and Clyde,” and, besides paying the extra 10 cents a ticket, we had to sit in the balcony because it was so crowded.

Even though I had some sense of the large issues of 1968, such as the Vietnam War, racial discrimination and youthful rebelliousness, movies heightened that reality.

They also took me places I'd never been before. I had known few real people who had handicaps like Charley in the Academy Award-winning movie “Charley” or who joined gangs like the ones in “West Side Story.”

And then, in October of 1968, I saw “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner,” and I, along with a whole movie-going world, became a little more worldly, even in a small mountainside town in Virginia.

Janet Vass Sarjeant is an English instructor at Central Piedmont Community College and has lived in Charlotte since 1976.