The ABC Minors Club: On Saturday Mornings

The ABC Minors Club: A 60’s Experience Part 5: On Saturday Mornings, Long Ago

Eventually, the programme at the ABC Minors Club would begin. Usually with the sing-along (although some cinemas saved it until the end, a way to wind the kids down, I suppose, before sending them on their way). Which songs would vary considerably from theatre to theatre. But, depending upon whether it opened the program (in which case it was the first thing sung) or closed it (in which case it was the last) everyone would invariably sing the ABC Minors Club song (to the tune of “Blaze Away”). It was sometimes accompanied by the theatre organ (if one was available). But much more often it was accompanied by a pre-recorded instrumental backing track (long before the days of karaoke) over the sound system.

Remember the song? All together now, Minors, follow the bouncing ball:

“We are the boys and girls well known as
Minors of the ABC
And every Saturday all line up
To see the films we love and shout aloud with glee.
We love to laugh and have our sing-song
Such a happy crowd are we – eeeee.
We’re all pals together
The Minors of the ABC.”

Then the theatre usually rolled a film or two, while we loudly cheered the heroes. Or also booed and hissed the villains.  In fact we generated so much noise it was sometimes difficult to hear the dialog and know just what the movie was all about.

This, oddly enough, was not only tolerated but encouraged.

We did know that the ABC cinemas shared and swapped films back and forth. Perhaps management hoped to “recycle” the film in a few months and show it again. Or they might be thinking we wouldn’t remember it or know the difference (which was very likely true). Doing this, they could obviate some of the need for the chain to rent or buy new films. It didn’t matter, back in the days when the size of the average TV screen fluctuated between 14” and 17,” the mammoth projected images enveloped us all, and drew us in to worlds well outside our own.

Then it would be time for the birthday kids.

On your birthday, you got in free if you received a birthday card from the ABC Minors Club. One is pictured on my Facebook page. But it meant you had to tell them your birthday, knowing you and all other birthday kids would be called up to stand together on the proscenium as everyone in the house sang “Happy Birthday” to you. Think going up on a stage in a cavernous theatre in front of nearly 1000 kids might have been a little bit daunting? It was.

Then there’d be another cartoon or short before the traffic safety lecture.

For some reason (no doubt the edict of some well-meaning executive further up the ABC cinema food chain), a certain amount of time (not too long, thankfully) was devoted each week to lectures on aspects of road/traffic/highway safety. We took this as the equivalent of the commercials on ITV we had to endure to enjoy the shows, and sat in respectful, if rather stony, silence until the “presentations” were over.

Much more enjoyable were the “guest appearances” nearly every week by actors featured in kids’ television shows, or, less often, in the movies. It didn’t matter if they had big parts or small. If they were recognizable at all, we were all “star struck.” From time to time, they’d not only appear, but actually perform, dazzling us all, and leaving behind many happy memories in kids’ minds that have lasted to this very day.

ABC Minors ClubThe featured illustration is of the candy-colored Minors Club badges that came out in the mid 1960s.  They were a symbol of the unfailing good humor and enthusiasm of the ABC Minors Club itself. I love how they spell out “ABC Minors”. Contrary to a rumor that circulated at the time, there wasn’t a badge for every letter of the alphabet. Next time, I’ll cover a different badge. The one worn by the monitors who kept us all in line. W@hat it meant, what they did, how they qualified, and what they got in return.

For more pictures, check out my Facebook page. Watch for “The Bluebottle Boys,” coming this autumn from Duvanian Press.

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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.