Another bite sized chunk of Blantyre History
The “DOOKIT” oh! what memories it brings back to me as a child and even into my youthful years. There was an enchantment about this wee picture hoose which played a great part in our everyday existence. Saturday morning could not come around fast enough for us kids,so that we may go there and be thrilled and be educated with all the different ways of life which was new and shown to us through this medium.
You have to remember we did not have any TV, or Entertainment was mostly during the week limited to the B.B.C.Radio, We didn’t even have a Scottish radio station in those days. One Station that was it. So you can see why we so looked forward to our Saturday Morning Pictures.
We sure did get a lot for our money. They would start out by showing the Movietone News which was a synopsis of all the latest news from around the world, this showing was, although we did not know it at the time probably our first exposure to the world outside of Scotland, hence the education I mentioned.
We would then sit back and enjoy one of our series “FLASH GORDON’ a then future space odyssey, or the “LONE RANGER” with his sidekick “TONTO” and that beautiful white horse “SILVER” a great cowboy threesome.They then would show a short Disney Cartoon, Bugs Bunny, or one of that type. We would then go into a full feature film which in those days would last just nearly an hour and at the end of this the lights would go up and the Ice Cream girls would stand up at the front of the cinema with there trays of Ice Cream for about 15mins, in which time the place was in an uproar, most kids had held back from going to the toilets so there was always a queue formed to get into a space which was inadequate for the amount of kids in the cinema. A good few wee Jimmy’s and Jessie’s were getting up off their seats and looking for their pals to discuss the way that man got his face punched in and he sure deserved it, didn’t he!.
There were ushers employed in those days whose job was to keep some sense of order in the Picture hoose. You also had to show them your wee stub of a ticket you had received from the pay kiosk in the foyer. They then in turn showed you to a seat or seats flashing their torches here and there, if the lights had been dimmed and the show already had started trying to find you a seat could go on all through the whole show and could be very interruptive. After the stop for refreshments and time for the projectionist to change his reels of film the lights would go down and the main feature would be shown.
There was many a time when something would happen in the showing of the film, the splicing of the various parts of the film would break apart, the speed would slow down or speed up because of some mechanical failure, or the projectionist would fall asleep and not change the reels, or he would not change them fast enough for the crowd, so when this happened there was always the mumbling of angry voices and then the feet would begin to stamp on the floor, getting louder and louder and then the cry would be taken up BURN THE DOOKIT. BURN THE DOOKIT. I would not have that guys job for all the coal in the Blantyre pits, can you imagine this noise and this poor guy trying to feed or mend some old piece of film, a couple of break downs and the poor guy nerves had to have been shattered. This was one of the ways we showed our displeasure at the interruption of our films, and it was manifested 10xfold if it happened at a particular exciting part of the film, it was pandemonium and then an instant silence at the first flicker from the screen at the return of the film.
Movie was not a word in our Blantyre vocabulary, it was either we are going to the pictures or were going to see that new film with John Wayne. Another way we showed our discontent was to throw orange peel or wrappers up in to the rays of light that was being projected on to the screen. For some reason they always left the projection light on while they were trying to fix the fault of the interruption, this must have been for a quick re-entry of the film or could it have been just a safety measure of sorts, just try and imagine what would have happened if they had brought the main lights up.
If you were far enough back at the position of the rays entry you could always make with your fingers those rude gestures and they would be projected on to the screen which would raise a good laugh throughout the Picture Hoose.
Margaret I am giggling away with this memory as I type, we kids sure knew how to live it up when we got the chance. If you ever meet up with a Blantorian look him or her straight in the eye and say “BURN THE DOOKIT” if this does not bring on a reaction of hysterical laughter then they are not from Blantyre
If you take another look at the Gallery Picture of the “Dookit” starting at the left hand side of the picture (In Blantyre everything was a picture to us the word photo was rarely ever used) you can see parts of the picture which would be showing some time in the following week WHEN IRISH EYES ARE SMILING. This picture would receive more than the normal turn out, just because of the name and the life and whereabouts it was depicting, reason being, that about 50% of the folks who lived in Blantyre at this time were of Irish descent. On the larger displayed billboard at the top it tells that the picture will be shown at 6-15 and 8-30 nightly. It also tells us that the picture now being shown is a picture featuring LAUREL and HARDY. You have a small type window in between and then another frame with about six small pictures displayed. These were taken from the main reel of the picture and displayed here as a synopsis of the picture which was now being shown. This was how the coming attractions of the 1930-1960 was shown. Compare this to today’s elaborate coming attractions now being shown in the Theatres. Today’s coming attraction shows are a show within themselves with all of the elaborate sound systems and advertisements usually lasting as long as a small feature film.
Again take another look and you will see that there are two door openings into the picture hoose. The one to the right was the entrance to the cheap seats and the one to the left was for the more expensive seats. The cheap seats were about half the cost of the more expensive seats, but there were about ten times as many cheap seats as there were of the expensive ones. Above these two doorways there is a long billboard or poster being shown, what the words read I have been unable to decipher and would appreciate any input of their intention. On the right hand side of the doors, here again are six wee pictures showing the coming attractions for maybe the next picture to be shown, which would start about Monday of that week and run until Wednesday of the same week, Thursday would then start another program. The Local picture halls in Scotland were never open on a Sunday.
I don’t know Margaret, but these photos of Blantyre sure tell some strange tales of Blantyre if you look at them long enough you see some queer sights, FOR INSTANCE!, in this photo that I have been talking about “The DOOKIT” at the end L.H side there are two boys and it looks to me like the older boy probably his brother is helping him to have a wee wee in the street and the mum in her body language is trying to say that they don’t belong to me, just ruffians that’s what they are. Did I not tell you that the “DOOKIT’ had played a great part in our education, I do believe this was the French influence manifesting itself. These Blantyre boys, you just can’t take them anywhere.
Continuing the conversation between Thomas Dunsmuir Hartman in Chicago (known as TDH or Drapadew) and originally from Logan Street, Blantyre and Margaret in Queensland Australia on TalkingScot.
Your Social Comments:
Blantyre’s Ain: I got an email from Betty McGaulley in Canada saying, ” Remember “Brick McCallum”, the Chucker Oot in the Dookit? He lived in Chestnut Grove. Anyone remember him?
Moira Mulvaney Pacheco: That’s where you lived Betty
Samuel Rodger: Aye who widnay if ye wir talkin or makin a noise he wis right over shining his torch in yer eyes thretnin tae throw ye oot ha ha ha.
Dawn Callaghan Donaldson: For us young folks, where did the Dookit sit? Where would that be now?
Blantyre’s Ain: Across the road from Asda on Glasgow Road, where the park entrance is Dawn.
Robert McLeod-Wolohan: I remember it well, I think the last picture to b shown there was the Wizard of Oz lol. Now thats going back a few years, it was situated right across the street from Asda, the other side of the traffic lights. Such good times lol
Martha Grieve: On a saturday you got one shilling that was tuppence for bus down tuppence for bus back and sixpence to get in to the matinee and tuppence to spend most of the time you spent your bus fair and walked back home that was the days.
Etta Morrison: The old man who worked in it was ‘Brick Mccallum’.. you could open an exit door in the ladies toilet to let your pals in free..
Martha Grieve: I can’t remember the Dookit as a picture hall but can remember the Broadway matinee on a Saturday
Eleanor Duncan Nailon: Thought we were great on a Saturday, get your jubilee then sit down and watch a film in colour. xx
Jeanette Bryan: Remember going to the matinee on a saturday afternoon.
Laurie Allan Crothers: I don’t remember it as a Cinema as I’m too young for that but I do remember it as the ten pin bowling alley. Great memories of that.
Liz Boxall: Remember it well my mum worked in the cash desk .. Later it became a bowling alley then it got burned down. Also remember Daisy and Bill Brown ran it !! Oh happy days.
Rita Stewart Docherty: So they did ‘Burn the Dookit’ eventually!!!
Mary McGuigan: Same as we had in 70’s nothing x
Liz Allan: Oh remember a bowling alley and the Broadway what has Blantyre got now !!!
Morag Campaigne: My mum was an usherette in the Dookit.
James Faulds: We used to call the bouncer Jimmy Brick, it was a great place to go sat afternoon to see Flash Gordon with the broken biscuits from Lightbodys and a couple penny caramels and some broken crisps the good old days.
Laurie Allan Crothers I don’t remember it as a Cinema as I’m too young for that but I do remember it as the ten pin bowling alley. Great memories of that.
Annette McMahon Cambridge: My mum Jean Mckean was the ice cream girl in the Dookit, she is now 74 she was 14 at the time. Mr O’Brian was the doorman, miss McCall was the in ticketbox.
Bill McIntyre: Went to school with the son of the owner Bobby Brown
John Ryan-Park: I remember the Dookit well, Used to hop home thinking I was Roy Rogers on my horse named Trigger?
Elizabeth Baillie Alemanno: ” Thank You” what a lovely step down memory lane!
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