Movie Buff

Bonnie Boerema

© Copyright 2018 by Bonnie Boerema

Photo of James Dean.
In 1951, when I was eight years old, dad started taking my twin sister and me
with him to the movies. He was quite a movie buff, and enjoyed them
immensely. Most weeks in the 50’s, after their work week was over on Fridays,
our family would drive to Springfield on RT 66 Highway from Conway. Mom
would go shopping.

Dad always got himself a large popcorn and coke. He’d buy me a Mound’s
candy bar, my favorite, with a Coke, and Connie a 7-Up candy bar and Coke.
It was usually either the Fox or Gillioz Theaters. The Fox was next to the J.C.
Penney Store on the square in downtown Springfield, Missouri.

But the Gillioz Theater on St. Louis Street off the square was the one I most
remember. It was beautiful, with chandeliers, ornate and expensive furnishings.
Back then the large studios such as Metro Golden Meyer and Warner Brothers
were dominant. They owned the stars, and were under contract. Major stars
were Paul Newman, Kirk Douglas, Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart, Natalie
Wood, and James Dean.

Dad kept up on all the latest movies, especially the Academy Award winners,
including Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman’s, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, John
Wayne’s, The High And The Mighty, and Frank Sinatra’s, From Here To
Eternity. We were twelve when James Dean hit the screen with his three movies,
East Of Eden, Rebel Without A Cause, and Giant. At that same time, when his
three movies made him famous, he’d already been killed in an automobile
accident, in his brand new Porsche. He was only twenty four years old.

My sister and I were both crazy about him. We had pictures, posters, and movie
magazines about him. He was killed on September 30, 1955, in Cholame, California.
1955 was when Elvis Presley became famous, and a major Rock n Roll hit across the
country. He performed at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield, in 1955, but he still
wasn’t well known. That afternoon, Elvis slipped into the Gillioz Theater, and
watched a Glen Ford movie. At that time, it still had ushers to seat you, Saturday
matinees, and at least two cartoons with every movie. Looney Tunes with Bugs
Bunny and Elmer Fudd were popular. Dad’s favorite cartoon was the Road Runner.

By 2000, the Springfield elites, in conjunction with the Littlle Theater remodeled
and refurbished the old, historical theater. It had been closed for many years. Since
then Springfield people have attended many events there. According to the News
Leader newspaper, it’s absolutely beautiful. It looks very much the way it looked
in the 50’s.

My husband loves movies as much as I do. They’re our major source of entertain-
ment. We spend many of our Sundays year round going to the movies.

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