Growing up in Branson in the 70's and early 80's, there was a magical place the youth gathered to on Friday and Saturday nights. It was the Owen's Theatre, located on Commercial Street in downtown Branson. It was the place to go to watch movies, eat popcorn, and pretend to stretch when you wanted to put your arm around your girl.
I can still hear and smell the sounds and scents of the theatre. It was build in 1935 and at one time was the headquarters for guided fishing on the White River. I only remember it as the place I escaped from my country home ten miles north of Branson. Here I watched The Apple Dumpling Gang, White Line Fever and The Towering Inferno. It was here in 1975 I hid my eyes during several scenes in Jaws. It was here I held hands with Anita in the 6th grade. I told my parents I was spending the night with John Large at the old White River Hotel, which was true. I neglected to mention we were going to the movie to see our girlfriends.
I remember cold winter nights and the long lines outside the theatre. We didn't care. It was a good time to catch up with friends, and maybe give each other "flat tires." For those uninformed of this popular game back in the late 70's, we would walk up behind each other and quickly stomp on the heel of the shoe, causing the foot to pop out.
I remember the wonder when the lights dimmed down and the big screen popped up. I remember seeing the glow of the faces of my friends beside me, and the sound of crunching popcorn. They were glorious times.
I miss the Owen's Theatre. I guess they still have shows there, but it's just not the same as when it was the only place to watch movies in Branson. It was more than a movie theatre back then. It was a gathering place. As life today moves so much quicker with various distractions screaming for attention, I find myself nostalgic for simpler times. You know, when there were no cell phones, the internet or satelite TV. More time was spent exploring outside and more time invested in face to face conversations, rather than finger to screen. I pray something very dear and precious isn't being lost forever in today's culture.
I think I want to spend some time thinking about ways to recapture the magic of the old Owen's Theatre. Maybe I'll rent a RedBox movie, pop some popcorn, sit by my wife on the couch, turn the lights down...
and pretend to stretch.