# 16 The Star Theater
By Steve Stoker
[More on Steve Stoker's Books]
the Texaco station, and right behind Landvatter Motors,
was the Star Theater. It was the hub of all the
pre-adult social life in Aberdeen. It was buzzing with activity every
weekend. There was always a matinee on Saturday
afternoon, and in the evenings, the teenagers took over
the place, along with the Star Sweet Shop next door,
which was connected with the theater through an open
door in its lobby.
Theater had nice clean bathrooms, too, but they were
upstairs. The upstairs lobby was a small anteroom that
provided access to not only the restrooms, but also
three other areas. You could always look in and see the
projectionist and all the equipment in the projection
booth. I always wanted to go in and look out on the
floor below through one of those little square windows.
There was a
crying room on the one side of the projection booth,
where mothers could take their babies and still watch
the movie through a large glass window. There was a
small balcony on the other side of the projection booth
and that was where the teenagers took their babes. Both
areas were off limits to kids my age.
Sweet Shop was a place for music and dancing and sodas
and malts and all kinds of activities that the goofy
older kids seemed to enjoy. My favorite thing, however,
was to go to the matinee on Saturday. In fact, our
matinee trips were almost ritualistic in their
Mike and I
would go to Grandma’s house and walk to town with Dwight
and sometimes Denny. Grandpa Frank always gave us each a
quarter. It cost twenty cents for the movie ticket,
leaving us a nickel for popcorn or candy. I almost
always had popcorn because you could get so much of it
for a nickel. Mike got popcorn, too, but Dwight and
Denny always liked candy better.
there were very special events during these matinees. I
looked forward to them as much as the movie, because
often there were real live celebrities promoting the
movie of the day. We didn’t often see big and famous
stars, but I must have met and shaken the hands of every
western sidekick in the business, except for Gabby
Hayes. I thought Andy Devine was the most famous, but my
personal favorite was Smiley Burnette.
Burnette held a drawing for a real live pony during the
intermission and it was won by one of the kids from
didn’t know any of those kids. They had their own
schools, so I had no real opportunity to meet them,
except on rare occasions when my father’s softball team
played their fathers’ softball teams.
Once they had
a very scary movie where they gave an insurance policy
with the tickets. Nowadays, I would recognize it as pure
hype, but I was certainly impressed at the time with
such a thoughtful gesture. The name of the movie was
"Macabre'. I had to look it up to find out what it
thing, though, were the 3D movies. It was so cool to put
on the special glasses and have Indian lances and
hatchets come right out of the screen! I always had
trouble with the special glasses because of the fact
that I already had glasses. I always had to use one hand
to hold them on, and that made popcorn eating very
difficult. Still — I wouldn’t have traded the
experience. It was so neat!
Theater was the hub of community activity for Aberdeen holidays, too. On
Easter, after the egg hunt in the city park, all the
kids would gather at the Star to open those Easter eggs
with “special prize” slips inside so we could see who
won the new bike. I never did. In fact, I never even got
one of the “special prize” eggs.
Christmas, the lobby of the Star Theater had the best
Christmas tree in town. It took up the whole left side
of the lobby and had the most marvelous of decorations.
My favorite things were little bubble tubes of various
colors that reminded me of the marquee out in front.
movie was over, we would walk through town until the
sidewalk ran out, then onto the gravel road passed the
slough to my grandparents’ house. On Friday nights, I
would be allowed to spend the night at Grandma’s house.
Most of the time we slept in the basement, but sometimes
Dwight and I slept in one of the bedrooms on the main
floor, in a bed that had funny metal swanlike things on
the tops of the corner posts. More often than not,
though, we could not sleep there because our noise would
disturb my grandparents.
Saturday matinees, Mom was always waiting for us at
Grandma’s house and we were whisked home for the weekly
ritual of bathing, shining shoes, trimming hair, etc. in
preparation for Sunday School. Then we had to wait an
entire week before we could go to the next show.
I shall never
forget that wonderful theater! It was to be a special
place to me until I finished high school years later —
even when a poor economy limited it to opening only on
weekends. Two years after I left Aberdeen, a horrible fire destroyed both the
theater and the soda shop. Neither was ever rebuilt.