When I was twelve, I looked forward to Friday nights. I lived in Toronto’s Little Italy where our neighborhood featured markets, shops and cafés specializing in Italian goods and cuisine. Our neighborhood also had a theater featuring movies shipped directly from the old country. It was there my dad would take me every Friday night to enjoy some one on one time away from the family. I believe it is also there my fondness for films emerged.
For today’s Freedom Friday, allow me the liberty to tell you about this part of my life.
Before the age of ten, I grew up in some of the roughest neighborhoods in the city. The school I went to was once voted the worst school in all of Toronto by a group of concerned citizens. My family eventually moved out of there and took up residence in Little Italy. It was a great place to live, school nearby, lots of places to play, and I had plenty of friends.
My dad made it a habit to build traditions in our family as a means to bond us to certain times of the year. Saturday nights were big at our house. It was Hockey Night in Canada night and should there have been a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens, God forbid, it would have been the most epic night of the week.
The other big night was Friday night. My favorite. My mom would make something quick for us to eat—typically a soup, a plate of sandwich meats and bread, or simply a bowl of pasta—so that we could leave as soon as we finished eating. The theater was down the street from us and it took about fifteen minutes to walk there.
My mom always made sure I brought a sweater; even if it was during the hot summer months. She always said it would get cold in the theater. She was right. I still remember that to this day where I sometimes bring a sweater with me to the theater—yes, even in the sweltering months of summer.
I loved the walk there with my dad. We talked about silly things a nosey kid like me liked talking about. A thing like where we would sit when we got there was a hot topic. I wanted to sit to the side and he wanted to sit in the middle. So imagine where we sat. Nowadays, I love the middle. It’s the best seat in the theater.
Once we arrived, we’d check the movie posters. If any of them were a spaghetti western, I’d be jumping on the spot with excitement. It wasn’t hard for him to figure out which one we’d see.
From there, the other events are a blur. I remember the popcorn he’d buy me, the seats we sat in and the waiting in anticipation. Sometimes the theater would have a cartoon showing before the movie, which made the evening even more exciting.
After the film, and having found our way outside, the fresh air that hit my face was incredible. I can never forget the sensation of walking back home with gunslingers on my mind. My dad always got a kick from seeing me excited talking about the best parts of the film. How can I forget such a memorable evening?
I suppose I should have given this article a title like, “My Dad,” or “Movie Night,” but in actuality, calling it anything else other than “My Childhood” wouldn’t have made sense to me. Although it’s a snippet in time, I think you get a good idea of what my early life was like reading this.
I was an ordinary kid with my whole life ahead of me. Isn’t that the way childhood should be?
Do you have fond memories of your childhood you’d like to share?