What was on at The Gaumont

Did Zorro escape?

By Nib West

Photo:The first Zorro 1920

The first Zorro 1920

from Wikipedia

The usual format of the show at the Gaumont then was to have a little ‘talent show’ where anyone who had arranged with the management to do so would give a little performance such as sing, dance, do a conjuring trick or some such performance as they chose. On some occasions a boy who lived in Rosehill Court and who was taking violin lessons would play for us. We all thought he was brilliant as well as brave even though he sometimes made a mistake and had to correct it. Who needed Hughie Green and Opportunity Knocks? We had our own and I’m sure we all thought it was better. After this ’show’ there would be a Disney-type cartoon followed by an episode of the ‘serial’ These were very exciting because each episode would end with the hero in some terrible and life-threatening situation that made sure you came back next week to see if they survived. We weren’t to know they always would - we were children! The serial was followed by a feature film. Always ’boy‘ orientated with lots of adventure and ‘daring do’ no ‘silly girlie stuff' and the subject of these films could always be told after the children came out of the cinema because we would all be going up St. Benets Grove or along Bishopsford Road sword fencing, firing arrows from imaginary bows or firing equally imaginary guns and riding our horses if appropriate. This was indicated by our running in a ‘galloping gait’ slapping ourselves on one or other of our buttocks. We all had great imaginations in those days to compensate for the toys we were denied by the war. Even the girls thought they were boys on these occasions and would behave accordingly, just as boisterous as the boys. I would like to relate one experience regarding a serial we had at the Gaumont and there may be others who remember this.The serial was about ‘Zorro’ a swashbuckling hero always dressed in black and always confronted by evil baddies. Well, on the particular episode I have in mind, and to which even now my mind frequently returns, the episode ended with Zorro having been thrown down a well shaft and the ‘baddies’ dropping a large round mill stone down the shaft to obviously squash him to death. Obviously we were all worried and wanted to see if he escaped but we were unable to go to Saturday pictures the following week because Saturday morning pictures had been stopped. All schools were shut, as were all buildings other than work places, due to the severe increase in the danger of bombs and the large amount of deaths that could result from a bomb strike on such buildings. Thanks to Hitler, none of us ever found out if Zorro escaped and hence my wonderings even now. Strange the effect such things had on us as children and are carried into our adult life.

This page was added by Cheryl Bailey on 18/09/2010.

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