Saturday, March 19, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History - Movies

Week 12 Challenge: Movies. Did (or do you still) see many movies? Describe your favorites. Where did you see these films? Is the theater still there, or is there something else in its place?

Joyo Theater
from the Joyo's Facebook page
This week's challenge for this series is a topic near and dear to my heart - movies. 

I grew up in the suburbs of northeast Lincoln, Nebraska. It's a cluster of the small communities of Havelock, University Place and Bethany. Everyone who grew up in these predominantly blue collar neighborhoods spent nearly every Saturday afternoon at the Joyo Theatre at 6102 Havelock Avenue.

At the time, the Joyo was the only indoor neighborhood movie theater in Lincoln. After movies had their initial run in downtown Lincoln, they would find their way to the Joyo a few weeks later. I wish I could remember the price of a movie in the early 1960s - but I am quite certain it was less than a dollar.

The Joyo was a safe place for parents to drop off their pre-teens for an afternoon double feature. Mainly, I remember seeing nothing but Disney films for years - The Absent Minded Professor, The Parent Trap, Pollyanna (I didn't just love Hayley Mills, I wanted to BE Hayley Mills!), The Swiss Family Robinson (James McArthur before he became known for 'Book 'em, Danno'),  Babes in Toyland (oh, yeah, I also wanted to BE Annette!), The Castaways, Summer Magic (did I mention that I loved Hayley Mills?), The Moonspinners. Of course, I saw all of Disney's animated features as well.

I've pretty much defined my life in two segments: Before The Beatles and After The Beatles. This era began in Feburary 1964. That summer came the much anticipated release of their first feature film, A Hard Day's Night. This film opened at the Varsity Theater in downtown Lincoln. Advance tickets were sold for the premier weekend. My friends and I bought tickets for the first and second showings on a Saturday afternoon. At age 13, we were the typical screaming teenyboppers. We had seen the kids screaming while the group performed on the The Ed Sullivan Show, so even though the lads were only performing for us through the magic of film, when it got to the concert portion at the end of the film, we were screaming as loud as we could, girls were throwing jelly beans and pennies at the screen. By the time we stood in line for the second showing, I had no voice left. I wasn't able to talk for a couple days. I never heard a word of dialog. The Varsity was torn down many, many years ago, but the Joyo still stands.

My friends and I laughed about when we would be old ladies and A Hard Day's Night would be shown on TV and we could tell our grandkids about it! The film showed up on TV much sooner than that. And, a few weeks later, the film made its way to the Joyo and we went to see it a couple more times. Since then, I know I've probably watched it well over 100 times, and I don't think 200 would be an exaggeration.

Then there were the series of Beach Party movies with Frankie Avalon and Annette. I saw all of those as well. Frankie performed at Lincoln's Lied Center a couple years ago and as he stood about three feet from me as he sang from the aisle, well, it was still pretty exciting.

From this basis formed a life long love affair with film. I am from the generation that still thinks movie musicals make sense. I thought nothing of the knife wielding thugs from the gangs of West Side Story breaking into ballet moves on the streets of New York. My collection of original soundtrack and Broadway cast albums came from this love of musical theater and film.

These days, the majority of my film viewing is from the comfort of my own home, where I can rewind if I missed part of the dialog or display closed captioning if I want to.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I am proud to be from Nebraska. I have developed a special interest in the role of Nebraska actors and actresses in the entertainment industry: Marlon Brando, Fred Astaire, Montgomery Clift, Robert Taylor, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, Dick Cavett, Johnny Carson, all the way up to Marg Helgenberger from CSI. So much is my fondess for my fellow Nebraskans - and the movies that were shot on location here - I have created a web site devoted to Nebraska on Film.

So, I guess you could say that film has had a pretty big impact on my life.  

About 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Amy Coffin of We Tree Genealogy has created a third year of blogging prompts for genealogy bloggers. The theme for 2011 i52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History. These are shared on the web site, hosted by Thomas MacEntee.


  1. Even if I knew nothing else about you, I can tell from your list of formative movies that we are contemporaries. Hayley Mills - big role model here. Just wish I still had some of my old Beatle cards....

  2. Oh Greta, I had complete sets of ALL of the Beatle bubblegum cards, plus extras. I tossed them all out when I was in college. Then did my best to re-collect them again when eBay hit the scene. Some things in life never change.

  3. I knew I would be reading something interesting, and I did. But, I'm surprised you didn't mention Kathy Bates and her outfit! Anyway, there were two of us who wanted to be Annette, I wrote her a fan letter, after all. Good memories here. Montgomery Clift was my love, as well as Elizabeth Taylor's. I saw "Hard Day's Night" once, but we have the LP. Love your Nebraska on Film site too.