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16 February 2021

Remember when we used to go to the theater to see the movies?  I lolve going to the theater and seeing a movie on the larger screen, though I rarely get to the movies. 

I went to the theater every weekend (and sometimes more often) when I was growing up.

The Alhambra theater was 4 blocks from our house, on Polk Street, and I remember going there every Saturday.

It is described as a "Moorish Revival movie theater building."  It was built in 1926 and seated 1,625.  Theaters like this always had elaborate decorations inside, which we kids never appreciated.

It also had a Wurlitzer organ which I remember being played a few times, but we didn't usually hear the organ.  It was removed from the theater in 1961.

My mother would give us 50 cents and send us off to the movies.  It cost 25 cents to get in, 10 cents for popcorn and 5 cents for a candy bar (10 cents if you got one of the "better" candies). 

The afternoon included a newsreel, a cartoon or two, a previews of coming attractions, a serial, and two movies.

The serials were designed to keep us coming back each week.  Each chapter ended with a cliffhanger, so you had to come back  the next week to find out what happens.

 Serials were action-packed stories that usually involved a hero (or heroes) battling an evil villain and rescuing a damsel in distress. The villain would continually place the hero into inescapable deathtraps, or the heroine would be placed into a deathtrap and the hero would come to her rescue. The hero and heroine would face one trap after another, battling countless thugs and lackeys, before finally defeating the villain.

There were films covering many genres, including crime fiction, espionage, comic book or comic strip characters, science fiction, and jungle adventures. Many serials were Westerns, since those were the least expensive to film. Although most serials were filmed economically, some were made at significant expense. The Flash Gordon serial and its sequels, for instance, were major productions in their times.

The Royal Theater was 2 blocks from my grandparents' apartment, at the other end of Polk Street, and my grandmother frequently took me to see movies there.

The neat thing about going to the Royal was that it was right next door  to See's candy and we would go into See's before we went into the theater and each get three pieces of candy to eat during the movie.

I am certain that I had seen movies before my grandmother took me to see Show Boat, but that is the movie that I remember being my first.  I remember that we arrived in the middle of the film (when I see the movie today, I can tell you exactly which scene we saw when we arrived!).  We watched to the end of the movie and then watched it all over again from the beginning.  ( If you wanted to stay at the end of the movies and see them again, you could.)

When I think of how much it costs to see a movie today and how much it costs to get snacks ($5 for popcorn???) it's obvious that parents don't send their kids off to spend Saturday at the movies any more -- even if there were no pandemic.

But I sure remember my Saturday movie days as some of my favorites.

The Alhambra was shut down as a theater in 1998 and it is now a health club, but they have kept the theater looking as it did, as well as keeping  the interior designs. 


Lacie on the plane to Hawaii

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