Going to the Movies at Greenwood

by Robert Cowser.

During the years immediately prior to WWII most of us who lived in or near Greenwood, six miles south of Saltillo, looked forward to the tent show each fall. The show was not a display of acrobatics by performers in tights nor was it a play performed by a troupe of travelling actors. The show each night for one week in October was a Western movie, a low-budget made on a back lot at Republic Studios in Hollywood.

Lonnie and Francis Corn brought films to Greenwood in the fall because that was the
only time of the year when most families had the cash to spend on such luxuries as
movies. Sharecroppers and yeomen farmers alike picked, ginned, and sold their cotton
crops in October of each year. Even children as young as eight and nine years of age
had money, for some of them were hired as pickers by the growers of the largest crops.

The Corns would arrive in Greenwood late on Sunday evening or early on Monday. In the bed of the truck that Lonnie drove was a collapsed canvas tent and the metal rods and ropes necessary to support it. Attached to the rear bumper of the truck was a silver-colored mobile home, small in comparison to the huge trailers and campers and vans and crusisers seen on the interstate highway today.

After the tent was set up, workers placed boards on stakes into the groud underneath the tent. We children who sat on boards never noticed hat there were no supports for our backs when we sat on the boards, for we were engrossed in watching a masked actor play Zorro or in admiring the markmanship of Bob Steele, an actor who continued to play cameo roles in Westerns as late as the '60s.

Most of the families around Greenwood did not own a car. Since they seldom went to the movies in the nearest towns--Mt. Vernon 10 miles away or in Sulphur Springs almost 20 miles away--to see a different Western every night for six consecutive nights was a rare treat.

It was a sad occasion, especially for us children, when we realized after the Saturdy showing each fall that it would be another long year before the Corns would return with a new crop of Westerns.
Robert Cowser is a retired professor emeritus of English at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He now lives in Martin, Tennessee