The day after Christmas, Turner Classic Movies had a Disney live action movie marathon. It included favorites of mine like “The Apple Dumpling Gang” (1975) and “The Love Bug” (1968). It got me remembering about my experiences at the movie theater when I was a kid back in Findlay. Many of the places I saw movies at are now long gone but I still remember them as if it were yesterday.
My earliest movie watching experiences involve two theaters that were in downtown Findlay. I saw “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971) at the State Theater and months later I saw “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” (1971) at the Harris Theater which was across the street from the State.
We were late to Willy Wonka and missed probably 30 minutes of the movie. What we did was decide not to leave at the end of the movie and we watched the first 30 minutes of the next showing.
The Harris Theater was, I think, the oldest and creepiest theater. I’m pretty sure it had a closed balcony which creeped me out during Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I swore I saw people up there.
The State later burned down and around the same time the Harris closed and was torn down. Both were gone before 1980.
The next focal point for my movie history was two theaters that opened in the Shopping center area on Tiffin Ave in Findlay. One was called Cinema World and the other opened as The Jerry Lewis Twin and then later renamed Twin Palace. Cinema World was located behind the Fort Findlay Mall and had six screens while the Twin Palace had two screens.
I saw classics like “Superman the Movie” (1978) and “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) at Cinema World. The best time though was when Glenwood Junior High rented out a screen so all the English classes could see “The Dark Crystal” (1982). The movie was cool and getting out of school to watch a feature movie was great.
I had a couple of great memories of the Twin Palace. Once I went to the movies with a neighbor and her daughter. The Moms went to one screen to see “All the President’s Men” (1976) and us kids were sent to the other screen showing “The Outlaw Josey Wales” (1976). The adults thought a political movie would be too boring so we got see a western with a lot of violence. The best part was we were the only people watching Josey Wales at that showing and the usher hooked us up with a free bucket of popcorn and two small cokes.
The other Twin Palace memory was seeing “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) with my Aunt and her kids. Even back then the concession prices were steep especially for our group of seven people. We decided to sneak in some snacks and pop. Back then we didn’t have those 20 oz plastic bottles of soda. We had 16 oz glass long neck bottles that you would take back to the store for a deposit toward another purchase. Well either me or my cousin finished our pop and had set the bottle on the floor. Then during a quiet moment of the film the whole theater hears *CLINK*. There is still some debate if I knocked it over or if he did but the bottle *clinked* on the floor and then rolled down towards the screen going *clink…clink…clink…clink…clink…clink…clink…clink…clink*. We both scrunched down in our seats to try to hide while the other kids laughed at us.
Carmike Theaters later bought both locations and closed Twin Palace while moving Cinema World into the mall and adding more screens. In the last ten years it built a stand alone 12 screen theater on the west side of town.
Another kid memory from the 70’s was when Findlay’s first McDonald’s on Tiffin Ave opened. It was before 1976 because the restaurant was the old white and yellow walk up style. In 1976 our second McDonald’s opened on Trenton Ave on the West side with the classic brown color scheme and the iconic mansard roof line.
The opening of the first restaurant was a city event. Tons of people were there and as a special event Ronald McDonald was flown in by helicopter! I’m pretty sure he was dropped off by a Sikorsky H-34 in what was then an empty field across the street from the new restaurant. The field was next to the old Frosty Mug root beer stand.