The ABC Minors Club: A 60’s Experience: The Monitors

The ABC Minors Club: A 60’s Experience Part 6: The Monitors

The Monitors

The featured picture – that’s an ABC Minors Club Monitors badge. I’m sorry to say I couldn’t get any photographs of the glow-in-the-dark ones. (Yes, we could sometimes see where they were too),

Monitors were older kids, sometimes 10 or 11, usually 12, 13 or even14.

Their job was to keep the rest of us orderly and on our best behavior and to make sure we picked up after ourselves. In exchange for functioning as the sheep dogs to our sheep, they usually got in for free. (It varied from cinema to cinema, but usually their admission was free – at the very least it was at a substantial discount).

How one became a monitor also varied from cinema to cinema.

Many took what I’ll call the “meritocracy” approach. ABC Minors Club members were awarded points for regular attendance, good behavior and leadership potential. Those who accumulated the requisite points were invited by the management to become monitors, if they so chose. But some took what I’ll call a “Star Search” approach. Any member wanting to become one advised management. When a new monitor was needed, those on the list were led up on the proscenium – the one who won the most applause from the audience got the job.

A third group took a hybrid approach.

Management prescreened the potential candidates on the point system but, having made a determination as to which kids were the acceptable ones, left the final selection to the kids in the audience.

Management, I’m told, would meet with the monitors during the week, usually on a Friday night, where, over sweets, there’d be discussions about how to improve safety, crowd control, theatre sanitation and the like.

I do know that, periodically throughout the year, theatre management threw parties that were only for the monitors. The photo at right is of a 1949 party for monitors in Derby. Most club members looked up to the monitors (attitudes toward authority were quite different then), and we respected their dedication. The perks monitors might receive were paid for in time, blood, sweat and sometimes tears (at least of frustration).

Often it was easy to spot the monitors, even without the badges. They had a certain air of authority of course (when you’re kids, that just goes with the territory), but they were invariably the oldest kids in the house as well. I’ll explain why next time.

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G. H. McCallum

G. H. McCallum is author of the Reggie Stone series, the first of which, Walking Backwards for Christmas: A Tale of Woe from Soggyhall, was released on 12 December 2014; look for the second, The Bluebottle Boys, in late spring of 2016. He blogs principally on the 1960s, Victoriana and magic realism.