This week, St. Andrews Cinema which is located in St. Charles County Missouri (a suburb of St. Louis) where I grew up, announced it was closing. This may seem like it’s not a huge deal to non-locals, but it has become somewhat of a landmark staple to all who grew up here and there was quite a reaction on Facebook social media from my peers, as well as even in all the local Facebook groups. My own Facebook status became a little lengthy. I know it’s not my typical blog subject material, but “Sunday Shorts” are about whatever I want so I figured I’d copy and paste it in here.
Sad! The regular movies were too expensive for my family, so this is where I saw most movies as a kid. The first movie I remember seeing there was “Pete’s Dragon” when I was 3 with my Aunt Cindy, brother Micah, & cousin Heather. My first “grown-up” movie was seen here with my family and the Hebisen family when I was 5: “Top Gun” and my only take-away from that movie was that there was such a thing that existed called “French Kissing”. The first movie that I was allowed to see alone with a friend (Esther) was seen here: “My Girl” (which was also the first movie that made me cry), as well as countless others.
Before it was divided into multiple theaters, St Andrews had one huge theater room that reeked of socks and was titled so severely that the butter and soda that was tipped over from refreshment eaters in the back row drizzled all the way to the very bottom causing everyone’s shoes to slip in the beginning of the movie and stick to the bottom near the end. Newbies quickly learned to sit criss-cross in their seats, causing all the seats to have severe soot stains in the upholstery.
It was NOT cool to go to the dollar theater as a teenager because eventually an older jolly organ playing gentleman plunked out snazzy polka hip hop songs before the movie began such as “If you’re happy and you know it” to the various “beat” demo rhythms on his organ. Toddlers (and sometimes couples) danced in the aisles and people who didn’t get out much thought it was spectacular entertainment and would cheer when he was through with his set because they were definitely getting the most bang for their buck if they were getting “Good ol’ ‘Murican Entertainment even before the movie picture started, y’all.” Yes, this is mean of me, but we were angsty and needed to disassociate with that part of our St. Charles County culture for a pocket of years. When we heard he passed away, most of us probably changed our tune and thought fondly of him, however.
When they divided the large theater into three, it just wasn’t quite the same. The most prominent reason being is that now you could hear the movie being played predominately instead of 200 popcorn chewers.
Now it is closing and I have no other way to end this except to say that when the theater gets torn down, most likely I’ll still look to my left en route to crossing over the bridge into St. Louis to see what’s playing… a behavior that I’ve only been partially aware I’ve carried with me from childhood up until now–even though I haven’t seen a movie there in years. But instead of the excitement surge of “I can finally see the movie everybody’s been talking about and join in their conversations at school!!!”, I’m sure it will be more of a feeling of nostalgia and appreciation for the movies that I saw there that helped create movie-going memories that seem insignificant— but are so very important and help define me such as these.