There were four picture houses in North Shields. The Rex, the Albion, the Gourmont, and the Borough. They were very popular with children on a Saturday morning and afternoon and for nine pence you could get in to see cartoons, Slapstick comedy from Laurel and Hardy. Stan Laurel lived in Dockwray Square in North Shields and never forgot his roots. The little rascals an American comedy; was about a group of children always getting up to mischief. Charles McFarland as “Spanky’ Carl Switzer as “Alfalfa’ Matthew Beard (Black kid with Bowler hat), Billie Thomas, as Carolina, then there was Chubby and Wheezer who had us all laughing in our seats. After Woody Wood Pecker, and Snoopy, there would be half an hour of cartoons from Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Speedy Gonzales, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, Sweetie Pie, Mr Jinx, Fog Horn Leghorn, Road Runner, and Donald Duck. We all grew up with them and it never did us any harm. After all of that there was a main feature film. From nine o’clock until twelve we were entertained. Then off you would go to the Rex Cinema at 12.30pm waiting in the long queue to see the afternoon feature. Life then was good as you sat with the kids who lived in your own street. They had singing and twisting competitions where you could win prizes of boxes of chocolates. At Christmas they held the Tynemouth Boy Scouts Gang Show. Where they would stage a pantomime and singing from the cubs and scouts.
After lunch many headed down to Woolworths in the town centre and helped themselves to the pick’n’mix and came out with a huge bag of broken biscuits. Many went to steal whatever they could. Gliders made of balsa wood; balloons, flying saucers, to fishing line, weights and hooks. The groups would split up so that the store manager couldn’t keep track on everyone then go around pilfering what ever they could to sell. There were two entrances. At the back of the shop was a set of steps at the front two doors that swung open. Outside to the left was “The Barrow fruit stall and again the use of deception was used to distract the men who were selling and then the others would go to work stealing apples and other pieces of fruit.
David Larter got chased after running down Tanners Bank with a huge watermelon. He legged it all the way down with one of the men on his heels. It was only when the man tried to run up the library stairs his twenty Woodbine cigarettes a day habit got the better of him and Dave was able to make his escape. Whatever happened they always met back up in Scott’s Park where we would share all of our booty. They would sit in the shelters and contemplate how much they would get for mascara, eyebrow pencils and a variety of lipsticks and nail varnishes. Anything that was small enough to stash in your pocket was sold on. The parkie actually bought the fishing line, hooks, and weights because he was a keen sea angler. The lads would all ask him what he required and they would all return with a hatful of gear for him.
They got a few pack of tabs from him and cash.
One lad took a chance in Stan Swans sports shop when the assistant was out the back getting a pair of football boots for a customer he reached over and stole an Ambassador 7000 fishing reel which was worth a lot of money in those days. He sold to the parkie for twenty quid. The lads all headed back to Ralphies “The College of Knowledge.” Before the bell went.’ It had been a productive lunch break they said as they walked down the corridor to Mr Davidson’s science lab.