Monday, April 23, 2012

Star Theater, Sand Springs, Oklahoma
The Star Theater
by Ken Neal

       Do I remember the Star Theater? Do Baptists have buses?
There were two movie houses in Sand Springs, both downtown, both torn down now. The Star was on South Main south of Second Street, while the Harmony Theater was a block east of Main on Second Street. The admission for children under 12 was 10 cents. Each month each theater issued a calendar of the movies to be shown. Generally, single features were shown Mondays and Tuesdays with double features beginning on Wednesdays. By careful management, I could go to the show nearly every day, abetted by mom who gladly forked over 15 cents to get me out of her hair for a few hours.
I sometimes would have to see one of the double features twice but the serials they showed in those days changed so not all was repetition.
I remember those old theaters well. Like the old World newsroom, I can hardly believe how small they really were. There were tiny bathrooms for each sex and lines outside were frequently long. There was a lone popcorn machine in the “lobby,” but praise God, the movie houses were air-conditioned! I can still feel the rush of cold air going in and the blast furnace as we came out mid-afternoon.
As I got older I was allowed to go to the show at night. I would often ride my bicycle to the show because it was downhill all the way. I sometimes came out of the show after dark and would forget the bike. More than once, mom or dad would ask me where my bike was and I had to admit I left it at the show. Dad would take me downtown and sure enough, there was my bike all by itself in the rack.
We had a 1939 Chevrolet with running boards and large door handles. Dad would let me guide the bike with one hand and hold on the to car by the handle. We would drive home several blocks that way. Can you imagine letting a nine-year-old John hang on to the car like that? I was as good as you were on a bike at that age and Dad would simply tell mom, “hell, he can handle the damned thing and I won’t guide him into a car.”
Remember, these were the days of 26-inch bikes with big handlebars and balloon tires. I learned to ride one of these monsters when I was eight.
Memories: Here’s one: One of the folks’ livelong friends was a guy named Carroll Riddle. They met at the Cotton Mill and that friendship lasted 50 years. Dad and Carroll later worked at American Airlines and rode with each other for years. Anyway, Carroll came bursting to our house at 209 one night to breathlessly tell mom that her name had been drawn at the Star Theater to win $300. Carroll knew that winner would be called at the Harmony later so Mom hustled down, bought a ticket and was there when they called her name. You tell me the equivalent to $300 in 1944! Carroll wouldn’t take a dime, but got more than $300 out of telling the story for the next 40 years.
I was virtually reared in those theaters. I remember Dad taking me to see King Kong at the Harmony and both of them taking me to see Gone With The Wind at the Harmony when it first came out. The movie was made in 1939 and it probably hit Sand Springs in 1940. Mom roasted peanuts and took a jug of water because we had been warned that the movie was four hours’ long.
Alex and I agree that our morals were probably shaped more by Hollywood than the church. At the movies, we learned that bad guys always get it in the end, good guys always play fair and get the girl and that real men are peace loving until provoked. We suspected a lot about sex but it was very sedate and pristine on the screen.
Did I ever go to a movie there, indeed!
I often watch an old movie and remember that I saw the damned thing when it was first released. Makes me nostalgic ---and old!

No comments:

Post a Comment