December 15, 2009

Saturday Afternoons in the Summer

This is one of my favorite old buildings, in the heart of my hometown down in California. I miss it tonight, my town and this wonderful old theatre. Many childhood Saturday afternoons in the summer were spent in there, perched wide eyed before the screen enjoying all manner of movies. I loved the moments before the lights dimmed and the popcorn and soda commercial torment began. When the ceilings, walls, light fixtures and the organ well were all in view. Oh and those magical side balcony seats that looked like something out of a European theatre, or so I thought as a child. They mimicked the balconies in the tower. What wonderful workmanship that building held and holds still I'm told. Bless renovators that stay true to original design.

Many towns across the country had theaters just like this and that pleases me no end. It means there were places for other kids to enjoy movies and architecture once enough pop-bottle pennies were saved for a ticket. We were the kids of the 50's, saving landfills from early closures by capturing all those returnable bottles. Who knew? We didn't. It was a means to an end. In my case it paid for fabric to sew clothing too.

This image was made in the early morning just as the light hit the side of the tower, lighting it up like a Christmas tree. As I raised the camera and zoomed in a bit, I realized the spires and other elements edges were wrapped in tinsel and sparkling. A gift for getting up and out to see the sunrise? Maybe. It was definitely a gift to have a bit of quiet, private time to enjoy the building and reminisce before traffic and noise hid it's memories from me. It was also the spot of my first kiss years later. Do you have some favorite spots in your hometown?


ProfGeo said...

I have theater comments from two time zones! As a child in the Midwest, I recall each movie theater being unique-- no megamultidynaplexes then. They weren't all worth bragging about. Two in particular, though, were special. And because they were in "special" parts of town, I didn't go to either very often.

The first was the Dundee on Dodge Street. It still exists and the last time I went was around 10 years ago, after its re-re-restoration. By the way it's one of those that looks much better on the inside. Here's a look at the interior. The Dundee area was originally a suburb of Omaha and it kept some of that flavor through my childhood-- friendly enough in a Midwest way, but people knew you weren't, er, from there. Now it's truly in the middle of town.

The other was the Indian Hills Cinerama, where I recall seeing Shoes of the Fisherman, a quite scenic but not great movie with Anthony Quinn as the new Pope. I got dropped off and picked up by my parents, which tells you how far from a bus line it was. Unfortunately, the Indian Hills is lost forever, having been torn down in 2001.

In the CA time zone, in downtown Monterey we had the old State Theater, which is now the sumptuously restored Golden State Theatre. (More impressive by far than its photos!) The guy who restored it was running mostly classic movies with the occasional live performance and apparently wants to move on now, so it's getting some rental/church use. The last film we saw there was the 25th anniversary re-release of Blade Runner last year.

ProfGeo said...

Embarrassing addendum: Although I saw something at the Indian Hills, I saw Shoes of the Fisherman at the Cooper 70 in downtown Omaha. The Cooper 70 was owned by the Indian Hills people (Cooper, obviously) and was just as fancy, hence the mental lapse... jeez... :-)

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