Mirth and Laughter


Friday, January 20, 2006

Here Comes the Sun . . .

The Sun Theatre.

My home town theatre.

Until I was about 20, every movie I ever saw was in this old theatre (pre-videos people), with one exception. Our junior high class went into Lansing to see Earthquake because the theatre there had special "rumble" seats, or something.

The Sun doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside . . . it's a piece of art. It's quite large (or at least always seemed that way to this kid). It had a large stage with old wood floors. Large burgundy velvet curtains hung over the screen. They would be pulled to the sides, and then a drape of thinner material covering the screen was behind those. You could see the cartoons that preceded movies in those days (before trailers) through the opaque sheet, which signaled that it was time to sit down and shut up--then that curtain would be raised.

The movie always cost $1. Every Wednesday the movie changed, so on those nights the line stretched down the block and around the corner. We knew everyone in line.

The Sun also had ushers in burgundy costumes the color of the drapes--suits with little hats. In the summer, free movies were shown daily for all of us kids in town (it was a very small farming community in Michigan). One summer, I went to see a movie there and saw a shocking sight--my 8th grade social studies teacher ushering. I didn't know the sad facts of life then, that teachers were paid less than gas station attendents and had to supplement their pay in the summer.

I have a lot of "firsts" stories that took place in this theatre. I can almost segment my childhood around the movies that played there. And it still stands. It still shows the current releases. And the Wednesday night line still rivals any AMC or Regal Cinema in the "big city."

When I go home this summer, I think I'll take my kids to a movie. :)


  • At 6:10 PM, Blogger Lucy said…

    What a lovely memory Ellen. I so thought you were going to say they were tearing it down. I was bracing myself for that and I'm so glad I was wrong. :)

  • At 8:59 PM, Blogger Ellen said…

    It's funny, but I keep waiting to hear that they're going to tear it down, since Lansing has so many multi-plexes and is only 10 miles away. Progress-ugh!

    I think I'd have to take out a HUGE loan and save it! :)

  • At 5:39 AM, Blogger Honey said…

    Ellen, it sounds like such an awesome theater!

    In my college town, there was one similar to it. They closed it down while I was in college, but I hear it's now been converted into a sports bar. Isn't that funky? I only saw one movie in it (Titanic or What Dreams May Come, can't remember for sure), so I wasn't all that attached, but it's still sad to see old theaters going away. The problem with our society is we've gone away from personality in favor of mass production. We've lost sight of quality because of quantity.

    Okay, I'll stop rambling now. :) Have a great day! Much luck to Roxie's teams!!

  • At 6:28 AM, Blogger Ellen said…

    Honey, I agree. Personality has taken a back seat. I know progress is inevitable--and often good--but sometimes I get nostalgic for the old days.

    LOL! I just thought of the other day when my son said, "Mom, remember the old days when I was young . . ." He's 8. Oh yea, you're ancient now, young man.

  • At 11:22 AM, Blogger Ellen said…

    Roxie's team won this a.m.! So, they move on in the playoffs. She's getting scrappier each game and made another basket today (when she first began, she'd stand there and look either confused or bored). Woohoo!

  • At 10:13 PM, Blogger Aura said…

    What a nice story, E. I think taking the kids there would be a great thing, sharing part of your past with them. Many years ago my Dad took me back to his hometown in Pennsylvania and that trip holds some very good memories for me.

    Way to go, Roxie!

  • At 2:18 AM, Blogger MariaGeraci said…


    Your post reminds me a little of the theme from "Cinema Paradisio" (sp?) It's an Italian film (90's era) about a man whose boyhood memories center around the movie theater in his home town. It's a lovely movie.

  • At 4:36 AM, Blogger Shannon said…

    Ellen, that theater is beautiful. I think it would be simply magical to go there frequently, pay the simple fare, grab a popcorn and soda, and slip back into the heydays of small town theaters, instead of the multiplexes of today. I'm sure some modern movie goers would have their neck hairs raise at the thought of not having perfect Dolby surround sound, or (likely) stadium seating. But let them keep to their multiplexes while we would keep to the classic movie theaters.

  • At 7:08 AM, Blogger Jos. said…

    My hometown theater, here in Vienna where I live, is now a bike store. It's where I first saw (and fell in love with) Star Wars.

    Now I trek to Tysons to watch movies in a fancy state-of-the-art theater with stadium seating and surround sound. Not as much fun. Should be, but it's not. You know?

    Nice Memory, E! Thanks for sharing!

  • At 12:41 PM, Blogger Ellen said…

    A--it's nice to know that kids can appreciate their parents' heritage. I grew up in my parents/grandparents' hometown, so I took it all for granted.

    Maria--Now I have 2 movies to get that you recommended! Cinema Paradisio and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. :)

    Shannon and Jos--thanks for relating to my sentimental bent. (bike store! Ugh Almost as bad as the sports bar honey's was converted to. LOL). I'm glad to know that so many of us appreciate the classic theatres.

  • At 10:27 AM, Blogger Lani said…

    They tore down the one in my neighborhood some years ago when that place was built in 1920. Then one day they opened one up a few blocks away that had 14 theatres and this 6 theatre place was soon a ghost town. But I'll always remember it and I just wish they would have kept it up and maybe showed old movies. I would have gone. So now it's a pharmacy. :(

  • At 11:49 AM, Blogger Ellen said…

    It seems like a lot of folks appreciate the old theatres, Lani. It's a shame they're disappearing.

  • At 10:24 PM, Blogger Antonio said…

    Well done on a nice blog Ellen. I was searching for information on home movie theaters and came across your post Here Comes the Sun . . . - not quite what I was looking for related to home movie theaters but very interesting all the same!

    If you have a moment, why not hop over and take a look at my report on home theaters.

  • At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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