In the Oct. 7 edition of The Milton Courier, I recalled growing up in the 1950s watching “free movies” shown on the long-gone bandstand in what is now called South Goodrich Park in Milton.

I have more memories to share of those free films I viewed on Saturday nights during those long summer months that seemed to stretch on forever before school started again. Two films, which were part of a series, stick out in my mind.

I especially enjoyed the Francis the Talking Mule movies, for which the director utilized three different mules over the years.

The American dancer, singer and actor Donald O’Connor starred in all seven of those films. The well known character actor Chill Wills provided the voice of Francis. The first in the series was filmed in 1950.

The other movie series I particularly liked was the one about a hillbilly family headed by Ma and Pa Kettle. They lived on a ramshackle farm while raising 15 rambunctious children.

Mary Tomlinson, who went by the stage name “Marjorie Main,” played the mother. She was an American singer and character actor and appeared in all nine of the “Kettle” movies, which ran from 1949 to 1957. Percy Kilbride, also an American character actor, portrayed the father in all but two of the films.

Those park movies were always preceded by a serial film that ran week to week. One week you thought the hero died when his car plunged off a cliff. But the next week you saw him leap out of the car just seconds before his vehicle crashed on the rocks below.

The free movies were basically kid friendly, even the scary ones. There were no R-rated films, and the dialogue was void of profanity. By today’s standards, most people would view those films as corny or worse. Nevertheless, all of we young Miltonians returned every week to watch them.

When we weren’t occupied with killing mosquitoes or not choking on popcorn, we laughed our heads off or hid our frightened brains under a blanket.

People living in Milton Junction back then had their own free movies on Saturday nights. According to former Milton Courier editor Doug Welch, moviegoers watched the films in what is now known as Railroad Park.

One avid fan of those Junction movies days is Karen (nee Jewell) Holland, who now lives in Milton.

“My sister and I, along with our two brothers, would go the movies on Saturday night. I especially remember watching the movie, ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon,’” she said.

That 1954 monster horror film starred Richard Carlson and Julie Adams. It took place in the Amazon jungle and revolved around a prehistoric, amphibious creature known as “the gill-man.”

“We watched that movie in the park near the old Liberty Station, by the water tower,” Karen said. “I was maybe in fifth grade at the time. It was a scary movie.”

She added, “Our brothers left my sister and me, and the two of us continued walking home. It was dark. All of a sudden, they jumped out from behind a tree. It scared both of us so badly. I totally remember that scare to this day.”

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