Monday, May 01, 2006

Out And About: The Palace Theatre

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 Call me outdated if you will but somehow I don't like to think of that.

37 comments:

Ann Alsex said...

Your not outdated Fuxxy.Those old theaters have a special place in many of us. Especially since they were not as sticky ;)

The Phoenix said...

With the prices of tickets and concession stands, it's no wonder people are just getting big home theatres and staying home.

Here in my city, they are building an entire mini-town, with businesses like a movie theatre, old-style candy shop, barber shop - all within walking distance. It's a neat concept.

Funny Fuzz - my first real kiss was in the movie theatre too. Interesting how yours was to the movie "Jaws" - how appropriate. Mine was equally appropriate - I was making while "Big" with Tom Hanks was playing in the background.

The theatre has long been shut down and levelled.

Crazy Dan said...

Damn your old!! They need to make into into a bowling alley instead.

starbender said...

Mmmmm, I miss the Good 'ol Days!
Back when America was simple.
:)

Metal Mark said...

I think people still like to get out of the house at times. So it's still possible for a theater to make a go of it. I like the idea of going to the movies still being an event.

Mimi said...

I remember seeing Ghostbusters for the first time in one of those great old theaters. Now it has performers like Aaron Carter and Carrot Top. I wish they would let the place rest in peace.

ozymandiaz said...

Ah, such memories.
Stale oily popcorn
sticky floors
uncomfortable seats
uninterested dates
crappy movies
God i loved it.

:P fuzzbox said...

ann: Yuch, that's phunny.

phoenix: That sounds like a winning concept. In hard times people seem to want to go back to their roots.

cd: Older than dirt.

starbender: And gas was cheaper than beer.

metal mark: I'm with you. It just isn't the same sitting in your own living room.

mimi: Who ya gonna call? Not Carrot Top, that's fer sure.

:P fuzzbox said...

ozy: Don't forget chunking popcorn at idjits from the balcony.

Dr. Cissa Fireheart said...

It would be really really cool if they theatre showed the classics, instead of current films. witht he cartoon pre-shows and all...and the old fashioned trailers....I am often envious of my elders for being lucky enough to have experienced Gone With The Wind or Cassablanca for the first time on the big screen. I think it's great that the theatre is trying to be restored. I hope it works out and at least turns enough profit to stay open. Perhaps even get registered as a national landmark? Then it could never close....

Bruce said...

We had one of those theaters here in my town, the Paramount. It was THE movie theater, but fell on hard times, even becoming the "adult" place in town(Deep Throat was shown there). It was eventually torn down as part of the revitalization of our dingy downtown area several years back.

guerrilla blogger said...

i always thought it would be cool to run an old time theater, and show buster keaton and other silent films, and marx brothers movies, and have a huge party type atmosphere...

Curare_Z said...

I agree with Phoenix...the cost of going to the movies these days is OUTRAGEOUS. But, when flix come out that I REALLY want to see...I still want to see them in the theater. Unfortunately, bigger cities are tearing down these old landmarks to put in the megalithic ones that charge an arm and a leg.

Green Eyes said...

We all show our age to somebody else at some point!

Glad you had a great weekend!

:P fuzzbox said...

cissa: I hope it works too.

bruce: Revitalization often means homogenazation and that is sad.

gb: That would be an excellant idea.

curare: The cost of the ticket does not bother me near as much as the cost of concessions. It is highway robbery.

green eyes: I try never to hide my age. I am damn proud to be alive after the shit I once pulled in my youth and bear my age with honor. And 41 isn't really that old.

Sherri said...

Going to the movies was definitely a milestone for me. It was the first real outing I was allowed to do without adult supervision.

My friends and I would all go to the movies every thursday night, whether it was a good movie or not.

Oh, the days. Back then, $5 got you in, a pop, and a box of popcorn.

Catch said...

We also had a theater to go to in the next town which was about 8 minutes away. On Saturdays a bunch of us would take the bus ( that was an experience in itself) and go to the movies. We were about 12 yrs old. It was a safe time and a great childhood memory. If you had misbehaved during the week you didnt get to go to the movies on Saturday...and nobody wanted to miss that! Same with skating...we had skating every Wednesday night...I wouldnt trade those memories for anything.

April said...

The old theatre here in my town was recently torn down...*sigh* What a lot of memories were hauled away in those dump trucks.

:P fuzzbox said...

sherri: And now the pop costs 5 bucks.

catch: A bus load of kids going to the movies sounds like an adventure all to it's self.

april: That is sad.

Perplexio said...

My hometown used to have 2 such theaters. 1 went out of business before I was even born and only has lived on through the tales my parents have told of their youth. The other theater was still in business up until 2000 or 2001. It "closed for renovation" and while it was closed for renovation the roof caved in and that was all she wrote.

Now when my parents want to go see a movie they need to go 50 miles southeast to Plattsburgh or about 40 miles west to Massena-- both of which have multiplexes.

When I was in college they had one of the old theaters you speak of. The balcony was converted to 2 movie theaters so their were always at least 3 films to choose from. The good films would start out on the big screen downstairs and the mediocre ones would be shown upstairs in one of the 2 balcony theaters. Sometimes if one of the films on the main screen remained popular enough it would be cycled up to one of the balcony theaters so a new feature could be put in on the main screen downstairs. It gave the place quite a unique atmosphere.

When I was reading your post I kept thinking about The Majestic. I think I'm one of the very few people who actually enjoyed that film. But I think I enjoyed it for the reasons you stated about misssing these small town movie theaters. It hearkened back to a simpler era.

ella m. said...

If I ever get rich I'm totally opening an old fashioned grindhouse, showing offensive trash cinema (gory horrors and the like) in faded glamour and sticky seats.

I hate the sterility of multiplexes and the even more boring movies they show.


I miss drive ins too. We have one left that's hanging on by a thread.

:P fuzzbox said...

perplexio: There is something about watching the curtains part and revealing the screen that is indeed Majestic. And I liked the film as well.

ella: Although I do like the stadium seating in a way. The cookie cutter design of the modern multiplex takes a lot out of the theatre experience by taking away it's personality.

ozymandiaz said...

Balcony? i was talkin about the drive - in.

:P fuzzbox said...

ozy: Maybe you need to change your user pic from an angry cat to a sick puppy. You are the man.

dragonflyfilly said...

GREAT POST...and what about the drive-in threatres...last summer i wanted to go to the one and only one that i know of here...but never made it there...then on Saturday, driving home from Aldergrove, we saw that it has been bulldozed and those ticky tacky houses built in its place...dammit all anyway!

starbender said...

...EXACTLY!
*wink*wink*
:)

:P fuzzbox said...

dragonfly filly: I was reading in the paper where Texas now ranks #1 in the number of drive-in movies being brought back. I have gone to a few as three have gone up recently not to far of a drive for me. One is 75 miles to the south, one is 80 miles to the north, and one is 70 miles to the west. I like the new drive-ins. The sound is piped in by FM Radio directly to your own radio. And two of the three drive-ins feature a concession stand that is more like a drive-in cafe.

starbender: ;)

Jamie Dawn said...

I miss going to drive-in movies like we did when I was really little. What fun that was!!

The first guy I ever was allowed to date took me to see The Elephant Man for our first date. I was terribly depressed when we left the theater. What a very SAD film to see on your first date. There was no kissing during that film. I mean, My God! John Merrick was fighting for his life and he looked hitonious to boot!!
The kiss had to wait until the porch outside the front door of my house.

siren said...

This post makes me all sentimental; missing those old drive-ins we used to go to when I was a kid. They refurbished the little movie theater in my town to look like an old 50s theater. It's cute, but expensive. Such is life, I guess.

phred said...

It`s WIERD that you posted this....
Today we were coming back from a dentist visit. We came thru my old hometown. On the outskirts is whats left of the old drive in. The big screen is gone and the gate is locked, but the row of trees still lines the drive up to the little ticket booth.
I thought back to those hot summer nights when we would get out of the car and sit on the hood.
Ahhhh, the good ole days.

I`ve heard it said '' you can never go back''...I guess it`s true.

Keshi said...

well Fuzzy have u realised that lately many ppl want to go back in time? They go out of their ways to experience olden days and ways...even fashion is getting old-fashioned :) so u see, old is always gold...

Keshi.

Jim said...

#1 it's a GREAT sign!!!!!!

#2 is it just me, but if you look in the lower-left corner of the picture, it looks as if they added a wheelchair ramp to the end of the sidewalk right before the sidewalk drops off for a driveway -- a little trick on the handicap perhaps!!!

-- they did that here -- added a ramp to a sidewalk that has stairs

:P fuzzbox said...

jamie dawn: The line, 'I am not an animal' would not be conducive to romance. I wouldn't think.

siren: 50's style with new age pricing. You are right such is life.

phred: You might not be able to go back but it is nice to look back sometimes.

keshi: The old tune said it right. Everything old is new again.

jim: The sign is great. I will have to post a pic of it lit up if I am able. And I have always wondered about that particular ramp. The driveway is to an old hardware store that hasn't operated in ages and successfully blocks this ramp. The one in front of the theatre and on down the city offices are ramps that actually lead somewhere. But I guess skateboarders and in line skaters have a ramp to use.

dragonflyfilly said...

i'm watching a re-run of the bald eagle cam, just saw Ma come back for a few minutes, Dad did not seem to want to get off the egg, so she just flew away again. now he is very busy tidying up the nest..too funny.

damn, i guess i am going to have to get a passport after all and head down to Texas if i want to visit a drive-in movie!

re: the other stuff, not too much haunting...it's just that reading some of the other blogs seems to have brought up some stuff for me, then my friend dying quite suddenly, and my stupid, and sickly "condition", i just woke up one day with that stuff going thru my head so wrote it all down and then came to read the blogs, and someone had blogged something very much along the same lines, so i said i would print my stuff when i felt like it and when i had the time....

i do go on a bit, don't I?

well, thanks for coming by my blog, come back again, i don't intend to have it so dreary all the time...

crumbs, i can hardly keep my eyes open but these eagles have got me so mesmerized i don't want to go to bed.

yes keshi, old is gold...there was a study a while back that found when older people reminess and listen to music that was popular when they were young, they actually feel younger, as well as look younger, and have better health, mental and physical...

cheers for now,
pj

:P fuzzbox said...

We all have a tendency to get into a funk every now and again. I am prone to it at times myself. Sorry to hear about your friend.

phlegmfatale said...

beautiful old theater sign

:P fuzzbox said...

I should have took a pic of my 50 buck brick that was my small contribution to the group. I luv the sign. It did not work when I was going to see movies at the theatre so it is nice to see it all lit up and fresh paint shining.