Every year they would show Laurel & Hardy in "March of the Wooden Soldiers" and they would show "King Kong".
As of this day, I have never, ever gotten to see either of the movies in their entirety on Thanksgiving.
For some reason my grandfather, who loved me dearly, and who generally went out of his way to see that I got things that I wanted, in this one instance was in opposition to me, and I'm not really sure why.
He and my grandmother were both drinkers, and Thanksgiving Day was essentially a day to get, well... Shitfaced!
I'm sure that being three sheets to the wind by 10AM most likely had something to do with it... but I can't really be sure.
The reason that I would want to watch these movies, in addition to wanting to see them because I just liked them, is that the kids at school would all start talking about what they traditionally watched on Thanksgiving at their houses, and the talk would build up and build up until we broke out of school on the day before Thanksgiving, and then I would have to hear all of them discussing the finer points of the movies throughout the following week back at school, without the benefit of having actually seen the movies in question... (well... I had seen "King Kong", but it helped to have everything fresh in your mind if you wanted to sound like you had a clue at all!)
I would usually start out by asking whether I could watch my shows a few days (read weeks) before Thanksgiving... to which I would either be told "sure!", or, "we'll see" depending upon the mood and identity of whoever I happened to be asking..
When the actual Day came along, it generally went something like this;
I would get my pillow, park my skinny ass in front of the TV and flip through the channels until I found whatever channel the first movie (March of the Wooden Soldiers) was on, and I would sit through 20 minutes of whatever hideous and miserable show that was on before it... The commercial would come on, and then, finally the music and credits for the actual movie would appear. Three minutes into the movie, my grandfather would haul himself out of his chair, walk over to the TV, switch the channel to something else, and say, "Alright mac, that's enough... time for me to watch something, now..." or, more to the point, "You aren't watching this crap. It's my house. When you grow up and get your own house, and your own TV, you can watch what you want."
Naturally, I would raise holy shittin' hell over this, feeling that I was being treated unfairly, and becoming indignant over the outrage. The arguing and screaming would commence, and sooner or later my mom would slap the living crap out of me for being 'fresh' to my grandfather... then I would be 'fresh' to her, too... out of sheer indignance, audacity, and pig-headed stubbornness (which, admittedly, I have way too much of..)
There would generally be a contest of switching the channel back and forth until I was threatened with something sufficiently inconvenient to prevent me from daring to touch the TV again, whereupon I would go in search of the big guns; Nana!!!
She would be half in the bag by now, too, and every indignity and injustice that she had ever suffered or that she perceived that she had suffered at the hands of my grandfather would, I'm sure, surge right to the surface, and she would wade in... all barrels blazing!!
"JOE! Why can't the poor kid watch his shows?? You're like a dog in a manger! You haven't even glanced at the TV the entire day, and you know that he was waiting to watch his movies, and now you have to decide that you want to change the channel??"
My grandfather was not one to cave in just like that... he once returned to the bar that he owned to find that some guys with broken noses and pinky rings had installed a juke box without having discussed it with him. He called the owner of the jukebox company, which was printed on a sticker right on the jukebox, and told him that since they didn't show him the respect of asking him first whether he wanted a jukebox in his bar, to come and take it out of there immediately.
The gent on the other end of the phone told him that the jukebox was staying, or that he (my Pop) would be cleaning his brains off of the bar.
My grandfather wasn't dissuaded by this and told the man that if the jukebox wasn't out of his bar in 30 minutes, that he was going to throw it into the middle of Richmond Avenue, which was the main thouroghfare in Staten Island where my grandfather's tavern was located.
The man on the other end of the phone said, "The jukebox STAYS!! Touch it, and you're a DEAD MAN!"
After 30 minutes, my grandfather picked up the jukebox, carried outside, singlehandedly (He was a very large man), and threw it into the middle of Richmond Avenue, smashing it into a million pieces...!!
When the Gangster Boss showed up at the Bar to confront my grandfather about the incident, my grandfather explained that had he been shown the slightest bit of respect, that he would have happily allowed the jukebox to stay... as a matter of fact, he had been thinking of calling that very company to ask for one!
The Mob Boss was incredulous at this, and asked why my grandfather had done this, hadn't he known that he would be dead?? My grandfather replied that he knew that most likely this was the case, but that right was right and that was that.
He offered the Mob boss, whose name was Jimmy, a drink. They sat, and they drank, and Jimmy pointed out that it was kind of quiet in the place, and my grandfather asked him if he knew anyplace where a tavern owner might obtain a jukebox, and Jimmy allowed that he might just know of such a person... and, from that day on they were very close friends. Until the day they died, actually.
Needless to say, he didn't back down an inch from my grandmother, who had a certain amount of chutzpah in her own right.. having once driven the family car through the front wall of the Tavern they both owned because my grandfather had 'eighty-sixed' her and had the lads toss her out of the bar and lock the door!!
So... every year, I would want to watch my movies. Every year, Pop would put the kabosh on it, and every year I would go to my grandmother. And every year I would start a great big domestic quarrel.
When I was 11 or 12 years old, I think I finally put two and two together, accepted the fact that I wasn't going to ever be allowed to watch those movies on Thanksgiving, and that bringing it up was only going start a huge fight and ruin everyone's Thanksgiving. So I stopped even trying.
I have never to this day watched either of those movies on a Thanksgiving Day, for some odd reason... I suppose if I had them on DVD I probably would... but it never occurs to me to even think about it until the very day... and then its too late.
As a matter of fact, I have never seen the movie "March of the Wooden Soldiers" in its entirety in one sitting, though I have seen bits and bobs of it over the years...
As it turns out, not bringing up the movie thing never once prevented a huge family fight on Thanksgiving... they simply found something else to fight about! It was either my grandfather suddenly surging to his feet and throwing everyone out of his house; including my grandmother (which didn't really go over all that well!), accusing everyone of being freeloaders, no good bums, etc., or my grandmother spilling some secret in front of everyone in the entire family that would instantly infuriate the person who had told her the secret in confidence, AND start some huge shit between that person and whoever the secret happened to be about, who would invariably be right there... otherwise where's the fun in it atall, I suppose, right? OR... my mom would start in on someone, a cousin would make a quip, my aunt or uncle would let my mom or one of my granparents have it, or someone would simply punch somebody else in the face ... and the fight was on!
The table went over, somebody always went ass over teakettle over the coffee table, and my battlestation was to protect the fishtank. (I enjoyed mixed success with this task.... sigh).
One of these days, I am going to watch both of these movies, on Thanksgiving Day, and then I am going to throw everyone out of the house.... and I am going to go with them...
After all, who wants to sit home all alone on Thanksgiving??