Tony Jaconelli – Premier

Shettleston was well served with cinemas; we had four, The State, The Broadway (later the name was changed to the Odeon), The Palaceum and the Premier. Each had its own characteristic but the most peculiar was the last named, better known as “the Buggy”! In those days each program lasted for three days, Monday to Wednesday and then Thursday to Saturday. On each evening there were two houses (screens), the first house was usually filled with kids and was always very noisy. The second house was the setting for the older generation and in particular courting couples. There was usually a scramble for the “winching seats”, a double seat without a separating arm rest. There were also Saturday Matinees. Sometimes, if there was an extra special film, it would run for six days and be heralded by an ‘all next week’ preview. I have stronger memories of the Odeon, because of the Saturday morning Cinema Club. The bouncing ball sing-a-long of the Odeon Club theme song, the excitement of the Lone Ranger or Zorro, the suspense of the serial – usually Flash Gordon – who seemed to get killed every week but miraculously emerged, unscathed, for the following Saturday’s exploits. I don’t remember if we ever heard any of the dialogue because the place was filled with cheers and boos; depending on who was on the screen at the time. Compared to the Premier – pronounced locally as the ‘Primeer’ – the Odeon was luxury indeed. The Buggy sported wooden benches in the Front stalls and we were crammed onto these like sardines. To get yourself room you sat with your knees spread wide because the attendant constantly moved along behind the rows pushing everyone closer together to get more kids on the bench. Too bad if you got caught with your knees together. Bang! You were tight up against your neighbour with no room to move a muscle. If you stood up to get something from your pocket you lost your seat. It was not unusual to finish up off the seat at one end and go round to the other side to start over again. Entry to the Premier cost one penny or three pence and on Matinee occasions you could get in for a “Big” Jam jar or two wee ones. Queues for these early shows formed long before the doors opened and stretched quite a way down the pavement and many a time we gleefully cheered as someone dropped their “money” on the kerb, and it broke! No matter, just find someone who needed and errand ran or who would give you an empty jar and it was back to the queue again. The residents for miles around the Buggy had plenty of volunteers to “go a message”, especially on Matinee day. There were other cinemas in nearby districts that became accessible as we grew older. The Greens (the Scum) at the Tollcross end of Wellshot road; the Parkhead Picture Palace (three P;s) opposite Helenvale Street and the Black Cat, at the corner of Dechmont Street and Springfield Road; the Granada in Duke Street; the Scotia in Millerston Street, The Orient in Gallowgate, The Park and the Parade in Dennistoun, the Rex and the Riddrie (later the Vogue) in Cumbernauld Road. There were no X certificate films in those days and Count Dracula, the Mummy, and Frankenstein were great favourites. Depending on whether you were of a timid nature or not, then you spent much of your time in the toilet, which at these times would be just as crowded as it was in the hall. No one ever left the cinema because they were scared. You had paid to get in (sometimes) and there was no way you would be seen to leave before the end of the program.