Going to the Movies, Circa 1964

Before iPods and Twitter, we actually spent time with one another.

With six kids in the house, keeping the little ones entertained was almost impossible. My mom was a wreck trying to keep track of all of us.  

Thankfully, there was a movie theater on Ventura Boulevard within walking distance from our home that provided relatively cheap entertainment. Mom could usher us out of the house, and maybe even have a brief moment to herself while she hung up the laundry.

For those of you who remember the Studio City Theater, it was that landmark deco-styled place gracing Ventura Boulevard just east of Laurel Canyon, decorated to look like the top a wedding cake. The building still stands, but it’s now a  Barnes & Noble. Oh well...

I loved that place. I have many memories of that theater, going back to the time my twin sister and I were both 5 years old.

My older sister Lynn got saddled into taking us to the movies, a task I'm sure she wished she could have pawned off on one of our brothers. But you know how it goes-the girls always get stuck doing the dishes, cleaning up, and in the case of our family, babysitting their younger siblings.

I remember seeing many movies at the Studio City Theater.  When we were really young, Teresa and I would pick up popcorn off the floor and try to eat it.  I’m sure it wasn’t very hygienic, but at the time, it seemed like a good idea since my mom didn’t have potato chips in the house, and we were salt-deprived.  We liked Milk Duds also, but they were too expensive, so we purchased hard candy from and snuck it into the theater.

I’m not sure what movies would appeal to a teen-aged hormone-studded female and two 5-year-olds. We probably saw Bambi or some other Disney flick. Perhaps we also saw Cinderella, since my sister was a diva in the making, and had a penchant for fashion.

When we were 10, a flock of us would often flood into the theater to watch scary flicks, including The Haunting with Julie Harris, ensconced inside that creepy mansion with all the ghosts and paranormal hunters.

During that movie, about twelve of us dominated the front row, screaming our heads off, until a fudgesicle would splat on the seat in front of us, or an empty popcorn container would sail across the screen, looking like a lost glider in space.

 As we got older, the theater became the hangout out for those of us in sixth grade. My boyfriend at the time was Martin Fergoso, a lanky black-haired kid who used to try to make-out with me in the back row of the theater.  My friends were also there with their respective boyfriends, as we pretended to watch the movies. There were no iPods, or Twitter, just real face-to-face contact.

Back then, you could watch a double matinee for about 50 cents.  Popcorn was about 10 cents and for less than a dollar, you could be entertained for about four hours. 

Those were the days my friend…

Jack McGrath March 20, 2011 at 02:51 PM
My sister Mary had a twin sister, and I had a twin sister. They were much closer, both being girls. At the Studio City Theater, we all hung out together. My twin sister really was a wimp one Saturday. The theater bathrooms were upstairs on the second floor. It was also the smoking section. My pals and I were up there between movie features. I saw a lit cigarette butt, and thought what the hell is wrong with a short puff. I picked it up in front of my friends and demonstrated my masculinity. On Sunday morning after church,, my sister snitched on me to my parents. My Dad asked me to come upstars with him. In my bedroom he proceeded to light one Chesterfield cigarette ( no filter) after another and put in my mouth. Soon I was smoking ten cigs. I got deathly ill the whole day, and could not leave the room. I was not happy with snitch Lynn, but I did not get near cigarettes till high school. Thanks Lynn,, what a twin.
Penelope Gamble March 20, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Jack, I'm Penny, Mary's friend and co Karaoke singer. My mom caught me smoking when I was only seven. She bought a carton of Lucky Strikes, tore the paper off half, mixed the tobacco with hot cherry peppers and made me chew a mouthful, swallow it, then smoke a cigarette and inhale every puff. The whole carton. I think you got off easy. Then I had to kneel on barley for two hours. I know...what was I doing smoking at seven???
Jack McGrath March 20, 2011 at 08:13 PM
Penny- did you ever become addicted? Maybe all would be smokers should meet your Mom at an early age. I think the number of smokers would be drastically reduced. I am glad your Mom was not my Mom. The worst I have got was a bar of soap in my mouth for some very foul language practiced at school.
Mary McGrath March 20, 2011 at 08:36 PM
I think I took a puff of a cigarette along the way, but I didn't like it at all. Never smoked, but I'm an avid gum-chewer, and probably parked a few blobs on the underside of the seats at the theater...
Andy Steiner March 21, 2011 at 10:54 AM
The Studio City Theater was your refuge, while Cliff and Doug and I and anybody else in our hood used to go the El Portal or Guild on Lankershim. The same fifty cents and the same candy bars from Thrifty's bought us a double feature and all day's worth of fantasy. And I too remember making out in the back rows of the El Portal and the Guild. Once we got our driver's licenses that opened up The Studio City, The Sherman Oaks, La Reina, Reseda, The California, The Magnolia and the Cornell theaters. And then there was Hollywood where Daryl Demos and Brad Bell found ways to sneak into several movie theaters. And there were the drive-ins... The Victory, Pickwick, San-Val. Reseda, Van Nuys, Sepulveda and Winnetka 4. The ruse was taking a date to a double feature horror movie and climbing into the back seat to comfort and protect her from the scary monsters. By that time one needed $5.00. But that fin would fill up the gas tank in the car, allowing for two days at the beach, two tickets to the drive-in and dinner at Bob's Big Boy with maybe some Saturday night cruising down Van Nuys Blvd. I was 19, going to Valley College, dating a girl named Karen (first love of my life) and we used to enjoy going to Westwood to see movies. The first time I ever saw the price of a movie ticket raised to $3.00 was in Westwood and we left because it was out of our budget. Andy
Mary McGrath March 21, 2011 at 01:11 PM
Great memories Andy! I remember going to the drive-in as well....I can't remember the name though, but I do recall putting those awful speakers in the windows so we could hear what was going on in the movie, not that we cared!
Carolyn Fromm April 19, 2011 at 05:07 AM
I'm a few years younger but definitely remember the summer movie series at that theater...our Mom would drop us off, the place was filled with kids watching Disney flicks (like Fantasia and The Incredible Mr. Limpett and Yours, Mind and Ours...)...we used to walk to Carpenter Avenue every day along Ventura Blvd., there was always fun stuff to look at in the shop windows, and the Thrifty's at the corner was a favorite stop during summertime for popcycles and turning in bottles for money...We'd stop on the way home from school at the escrow office where are Mom was a part-time secretary, before crossing the bridge over the wash to go home and wait for a couple hours until she got off...we'd watch Broderick Crawford in Highway Patrol, and Flipper and Flying Nun, and basically kill time together, feeling all grown up because we were home alone.......
teresa mcgrath February 28, 2013 at 09:42 PM
wonder where my comments went...hmmm..nice mary...eating popcorn off the floor...i got hives from chocolate once, but never again...there were 10 of us for the haunting all in a row...one of my favorite horror films of all time...saw many double-features...hitchcock's psycho, vertigo, rear window....the art deco, outside ticket booth, plus the fine decor made it fun...sneaking kisses, cigs...a favorite place....la reina, and el portal in noho were great too...
Mary McGrath March 01, 2013 at 01:21 AM
Where have all the comments gone, long time passing....oh well.... I still remember making out with my 6th grade boyfriend at the Studio City Theater... I think his name was Martin Fergoso or something like that...I'm so glad the facade is still there...


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