Venerable Movie Houses

Before moving on, I do want to pause a moment to acknowledge all the Veterans across the country. Thank you for your service! In the past, I’ve blogged about all the members of my family who have been in the military and you can read that post HERE if you’d care to. I wrote it in 2016.


Those of us of a certain age have fond memories of the theaters of our youth where we spent hours watching our favorites on the big screen while we munched on popcorn and candy. When I read Slim Randles offering today, I thought of the one I used to go to a few blocks from my house. My mother, sister, and I went as often as we could scrap together the three quarters needed to buy a ticket, along with a nickel each for popcorn.

I also thought of this book that my son, Mike, wrote with an associate at the Austin History Center,  Susan Rittereiser, Historic Movie Houses of Austin.

Historic Movie Houses of Austin

Now here’s Slim. Enjoy…

Mickey Baker has owned The Strand – our local movie theater – since the new releases starred Virginia Mayo. The Strand, naturally, is an icon here. More than a few of our long-lasting marriages in the area began with a first date there. Most of us have consumed more than our share of Raisinettes and Jujubes while watching Duke Wayne whip the bad guys.

We know every inch of The Strand. We know where the rips are in the used-to-be blood-red carpet, which of the seats don’t fold all the way down, which seats are most secluded in case it’s a smooching date.

It was ol’ Dud, back when he was about four feet tall, who discovered how to combine chewing gum and the lock on the back door to provide five-finger discounts for friends wanting to watch Victor Mature run around in a loincloth.

The Strand, in other words, is a vital part of our past, if not of our lives today. Now ‘a days we just go rent those tapes and disks and stay home and watch the newer films when we feel like it.

That might be because we now appreciate being able to stop the action for an occasional bathroom break now and then.

Attendance at The Strand dropped dramatically when home entertainment really hit a lick. But Mickey fought back. He tried the free popcorn route for a while. All he charged for was the butter. Attendance didn’t really pick up, and the popcorn bill was … well, appreciable if not staggering.

Mickey now thinks he has the answer. He bought a disk player thingie that works on a big screen. Then he bought some old movies and lowered the price.

The first night he did this was a triple header, and we all turned out to see our old heroes vanquish Nazis, solve the bank robbery in Cactus Gulch, and find out who really killed the big-city mayor.

We paid too much for popcorn, but who cares?

The Strand lives on, even if there is more gray hair there than at a Percheron horse show. Besides, when was the last time you saw The Duke standing 15-feet tall?

Brought to you by  A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right.

In addition to hosting a radio show, Slim Randles writes the nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here on the blog, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It features some of the best of the columns he has shared with us, as well as the 4 million readers of the newspapers where his columns appear.

That’s all for today, folks. I do hope you enjoy this mid-week boost. Whether it’s humor or philosophy, Slim always has a good uplifting message. Be safe. Be well.

4 thoughts on “Venerable Movie Houses”

  1. Oh yes, l have fond memories of watching those old movies at the local theater. That was a Saturday night treat when families came to our small town for groceries and visiting. Movies were ten cents for years until going up to twelve cents! After moving to the city, it was a shock to pay a quarter to see a movie. I don’t remember having enough money for popcorn or candy in those days. Enjoyed your blog!

    1. Since I grew up in a small city, I don’t have memories of “going to town” on Saturdays like folks in rural areas do. My first awareness of that came from working on the history books with the Winnsboro Historian, Bill Jones. Many of the stories he told were about the State Theatre in downtown which was the main entertainment for the town and where many a romance got a start.

      We could only afford to buy popcorn if I found enough soda bottles to cash in to cover ticket price and treats. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Jan. I always appreciate your comments.

  2. Hi Maryann, I enjoyed learning about the book, Historic Movie Houses of Austin. Having lived there for 25 years, you mentioning the topic brought back a lot of memories. I saw so many wonderful movies and live performances at the Paramount Theatre. During an Alfred Hitchcock festival at the theatre, I was invited to sign books in the lobby. My Hitchcock book had just been released. I’d forgotten about this until I read your post. Thanks.

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