LETTER: Coming of age in the era of going to the movies

Dear Editor:

A Moviegoer’s Guide to Theatre History; North Shore Picture Houses Have Seen It All, June 17 lifestyle story.

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I greatly enjoyed reading contributing writer Grant Lawrence’s article on the theatres on the North Shore.

I grew up in West Vancouver in the 1950s and went to the West Van Odeon many times as a youngster. I saw the popular science-fiction movie Forbidden Planet there in 1956 as a seven-year-old. The theatre was oversold with the result that the aisles were packed with children sitting blocking both aisles - the fire marshal would have had a heart attack.

In the 1960s there was a young eager junior manager at the Odeon Theatre who wanted to solve the problem of kids sticking gum under the seats. He came up with the innovative idea of a large “Gum Park” board in the lobby that was divided into about 100 squares. He wanted the Saturday afternoon young crowd (who paid a quarter to get in) to leave their gum on a square, take a numbered token and retrieve their gum after the show. Naturally, the kids took the tokens and never returned them. The goofy board lasted two weeks.

The Saturday crowd of kids was always rowdy. When the lights went out there was always a blizzard of flying candy bar wrappers, drink lids and other debris that flew for about two minutes. What a mess. As a kid it was fun to watch the aerial show.

There was often some guest appearance of yo-yo champions and other wacky notables. It was a fun place to be.

I think the new theatre in Park Royal is excellent and I will go back when it reopens and is safe.

Thanks for the interesting article.

Jay Rowland
North Vancouver

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