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Friday, February 22, 2013

My Cousin, “The Surf” and “The Blob”

My Cousin, “The Surf” and “The Blob”


Horror movies have always been a popular genre but they seem be produced in bursts.  From the promos I have seen recently they are making another comeback.  They will make it without me.  I have never liked horror movies.  They have always scared the crap out of me.

In the late fifties most horror movies were based on radiation from the atom bomb causing mutant monsters.  Giant spiders, grasshoppers, fifty-foot women, Godzilla, Mothra all seem pretty lame today, but in the day they were scary.  Maybe it was because the atom bomb was so new and the possible effects of radiation so unknown the imaginations of the fifties ran wild.

I remember one dismal summer day in Ocean City, New Jersey, 1958, I went to a double feature with my cousin Nils.  I was twelve years old; Nils was a couple of years older than I so I think I was just tagging along.  We went to the Surf Theater on the boardwalk.  The “Surf” generally played “B” movies, this day was no different.  The Surf was playing “The Blob” which was about a radioactive mass which grew as it absorbed everything in its path; and the second feature was a Frankenstein movie whose title eludes me.  I do remember being warned that there was a scene in the Frankenstein movie involving a beating heart outside the body that was really, really scary. 

Nils and I walked to the theater about two miles from our Grandparent’s house.  We settled in early, popcorn and the tickets set us back less than a dollar,  25 cents each for the tickets and 15 cents each for two small popcorns (butter was extra.)

When the newsreel and cartoons were over and the first feature came on, Nils elbowed me, “This is going to be good Jody*, you better not chicken out!”

“I’m not a scaredy cat.”

The movie was not on for more than twenty minutes before I started to show signs of in fact being a very big scaredy cat.  The music was scary, the blob was scary, and the on-screen screaming was scary.  My knuckles were white from clutching the arm rest, I was breathing heavy, and there might have been sobbing involved.  At the age of twelve I should not have been so afraid, but I was.

Nils noticed my condition, “Jody, you all right?” He whispered.

“Yeah…bu..but I was just thinking, I might not want to see the Frankenstein beating heart thing.”

“You want to go now?  We can go if you’re scared.  I don’t mind, I can see it any time.”

“Are you sure.”


“I think we should go.”

And so we left the theater.  We left before the blob had even absorbed its first human being.  We quietly slunk out of the “Surf” onto the boardwalk and walked back home.

“You sure were scared Jody.  Kind of silly spending 80 cents and only watching cartoons and twenty minutes of the first feature.  If you want we can tell people that you felt sick from some bad popcorn.”

“Yeah Nils, I do feel a bit ookey…probably the popcorn.”

“Sure…the popcorn.”

To this day I never have seen “The Blob.”  I expect it would seem pretty tame today, but in 1958 it scared the bejesus out of me.   We never told anyone that we left the movie early.  This is the first I have ever told the story.  I’m glad Nils understood and didn’t make fun of his little scaredy cat cousin.  

I have often wondered from how easily he agreed to leave, if perhaps my older cousin was also a little scared of “The Blob.”



*At the age of five I rebelled against my name and Jody became Joe.  Nils refused to call me Joe, and was the only person to call me Jody.  To this day he still calls me Jody.  It used to piss me off, now I kinda like it...but only from him!


  1. We saw a lot of movies when I was a kid. Getting in for a quarter made it an inexpensive way to spend an entire afternoon (in air-conditioning!) with a theater filled with boisterous, milk dud-throwing kids. (Didja ever blow into an empty candy box to make a horn sound...?)

    And yes, I saw "The Blob". It kinda scared me, but I didn't leave. Just closed my eyes when it got too intense. (Did I mention the theater had AIR CONDITIONING?)

    Fun post.

  2. I remember seeing "The Blob", but don't remember much about was one of many movies I saw on many Saturday afternoon at the Brookside Theater with a jillion other kids from the neighborhood.
    I like to think of all the bikes parked outside the theater and not one of them with a lock.

  3. A neighbor took the resident kids to see War of the Worlds. I only remember sitting with my head down. As did many of the ten or so of us he took. We went downtown in the cab and back of his pick up truck. That was the best part.

  4. I LOVED "The Blob"--but I wasn't a little kid when I saw it!!

  5. I think your cousin was also afraid of The Blob, or else he probably would have made fun of you later on or insisted you stay and watch the movie. Nils sounds like a good guy.

  6. I do remember that event and will tell you that "The Blob" was only a notch above "The Thing!"
    Regarding the nickname" Jody" I will plead ignorance and that I only became aware of Joe's wishes at a family runion a few years back. Something about Joe screaming at me got the message accross.
    BTW: Joe and I are good friends now and I am proud to be one of the 17 who purchased his first book from Amazon!

  7. Never saw The Blob. But I read a movie magazine with pictures of "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" that put a fright in me.

  8. I could never even summon the courage to go to a horror movie. You were a better 12-year-old than I (at the same time, I think). Nice writing!

  9. So it's really Jody, huh? :-) My husband's given name is Johnny Mac, and it says so on his driver's license. The only one who calls him that to this day is his great Aunt who will be 94 this coming month. To her, he will always be that sweet little boy she watched grow up! I love that your cousin still refers to you as Jody too!

  10. LOL! I love old horror films like that, but I'm not sure how anyone could be scared of them. Of course, at 12 years old it might be different :)

  11. Just bestowed you with another award -

  12. oh I am still scared of horror movies and I am definitely not 12 :)

  13. some of those older flicks were very scary for their day!