Short stories and essays by Shaun Costello, as well as excerpts from manuscripts in progress.



By Shaun Costello

Flash, Dale, and Dr. Zarkoff take on Ming the Merciless

When I was a kid, I lived in Valley Stream, a suburban community in Long Island’s Nassau County. On some Saturday’s, the local movie theater would offer Kiddie Matinees. From 10AM until 4PM the theater would provide six hours of uninterrupted movie madness to ecstatic youngsters, who were devouring lethal doses of movie candy, and screaming their brains out.

Flash does battle with Ming the Merciless.

Parents would simply drop their kids off at 10AM and come back six hours later to pick them up. Very few parents ever accompanied their children inside the theater. It was just us kids, most of us armed with projectile weaponry like rubber bands and paper clips, and bean shooters, ready to turn the inside of that theater into a war zone. Some days the venue would offer an assortment of kid-friendly features, like Martin and Lewis, or Francis the Talking Mule. On other days, the offering might include six hours of theatrical serials, like Flash Gordon, who did battle with Emperor Ming the Merciless, who ruled the plane Mongo with his evil Death Ray, and enslaved its population, which included the Clay People, the Shark People, and Hawk People: all of whom would eventually be freed by Flash and his erudite pal Dr. Zarkoff. In addition to Flash, the theater might offer my all-time favorite – Tim Tyler’s Luck.

In my dreams, I rode in the Jungle Cruiser with my hero Tim, on a mission to save the world

Tim, at the helm of his trusty Jungle Cruiser, traversing the jungles of Africa, (which looked oddly like the same location used for Hopalong Cassidy) spent his time searching for his lost father, saving gorillas from heinous hunters, befriending black panthers, rescuing a variety of blonde women from the clutches of evil doers, wrestling with alligators, avoiding the dangers of quick sand, and basically saving the world.
At 4PM a long line of station wagons (we had a Nash Rambler) waited outside the theater, to collect the kids, who were exhausted from six hours of unsupervised screaming, and green from a serious movie candy overdose. Boy, this was fun.

Tim was my ultimate hero



© 2017 Shaun Costello

2 responses

  1. Jeff

    Good times! Great memories!

    August 21, 2017 at 1:55 pm

  2. michel spitzer

    The Forest Hills movie theater had a similar Saturday line-up, but it also included (between) the cartoons and one of the main features, a YO-YO contest that was sponsored by the Cheerio Yo-Yo company. As you describe, at some point, the kids would get restless waiting for the next feature and chant, “We want the show.” As always, Sean, beautiful memory and should be shared with anyone who wonders what the past was like w/o all the modern conveniences/devices.

    August 22, 2017 at 8:29 am

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