Nothing like a grandson’s day off of school and spending it with Grammy and Poppy. I remember days off as being special, and we usually did something fun, which is what we decided to do on a recent school holiday with our grandson, Parker. The weather being what it is, we were limited to a movie.
Finding an appropriate picture led us to the LaGrange Theater. Not having been to the LaGrange Theater in quite a while, I was impressed with how it retained all the pleasantries of the old theaters that I remember as a child. Husband Joe rated it high also, not only for comfort and cleanliness but for reasonable rates and good popcorn.
While settling in to watch the movie, I was reminded of how going to “the show” as kids was a big thing. My mom was good about taking us. But then we got to the age, around junior high school, when we could go to the show without an adult.
We girls, as a group, were driven and picked up by a parent. That was when it was safe to go to a movie without an adult. Now as we were entering the teen years, we would have arranged it with the boys to meet us, believing of course that our parents had no idea what we had planned. Looking back, I’m sure our parents did know. For us it was a fun, innocent afternoon. Some of the theaters would have special programs to attract a younger audience.
Locally, we would go to the Berwyn or the Olympic, both on Cermak Road, which I remember to be very ornate with patterned carpeting. The atmosphere was formal, as if we kids cared. There was another theater in South Berwyn whose name escapes me.
Oak Park had the Lake and the Lamar, with the Lake still in business, operated by the same folks who now run the North Riverside Park Mall theaters.
It was not unusual for some of the theaters to become banquet halls after a time. One in Oak Park, a place called the Warrington Opera House, eventually became the Mar-Lac House, where the Riverside-Brookfield High School prom was held.
Today’s movie houses offer many more amenities, but there is still something about the charm of theaters like the LaGrange. I suppose everything has its time, but now if they would only bring back drive-in movies there could be lots of stories to tell.