Nowadays it's an hour and a half drive to the big city in order to watch a movie at a theatre but when I was a kid there was The Palace Theatre. A couple of years ago, a volunteer group was set up to bring the theatre back to life. They gathered funds for the redoing of the sign and to bring the building up to snuff. The sign is up and during the day is easily the most recognizable feature downtown. At night the strobbing lights are a wonder to behold seeming more fitting of a big town and not the small out of the way place that is my home town.
My father has often told me the stories of it's heyday in the 50's and early 60's. With a barbershop in the side lobby filled with people. Where for a quarter, you could watch a double feature, get a Coke, have a candy bar. and have a nickel left over. When I pass by the sign at night and it is all aglow it is not hard to picture those days.
I have many memories of The Palace Theatre. I loved to sit up in the balcony listening to the hum of the projector and watching the thin beam of light put forth it's magic onto the screen. I loved watching the cartoons before the show, Chilly Willie, Woodie Woodpecker, Droopy, and all the rest. It was there during a showing of 'Jaws' that I had my first real date and my first real kiss.
It will be nice if and when it is back to running. It would be nice if a new generation of towns people could forge memories of their own, sitting in the dark and watching the visions on the screen. But maybe that is a bit optimistic on my part. Maybe the large screen TV's, the DVD players, and surround sound have effectively shut down any comebacks to the old time movie theatres of days gone by in rural America. Call me outdated if you will but somehow I don't like to think of that.