Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday Memories: The Coliseum Theater

When I was a kid, I spent every Saturday afternoon in this theater as did most of the kids, who lived in the downtown area. We usually walked to the "show". On the next block was Kuhn's, a dime store that had a soda fountain so we usually came to town early and went there first to look around. They served banana splits and deal was that you got to pop one of the balloons that were hanging over the soda fountain bar to find out how much you had to pay for it or if you got it free. Afterward, we headed for the Coliseum and we usually saw old horror movies like one that I still remember called The Brain That Wouldn't Die. It was about a woman who was in an accident and her boyfriend, might have been husband, like rescued her head and she was in his lab. He planned to transplant her head onto a body. That's all I remember. I did love Vincent Price and his voice. I'm sure we saw other movies as well like Westerns or dramas but I mostly recall movies that were considered 'scary' at the time.

Saturday was the first time I've been in the theater in almost 30 years. It hadn't changed much at all. It was built in 1924 by Ben Liddon, the same man who built the castle-like house that we all called the Cat House because of the cats that lived there in the 60's. I didn't remember it being as elegant as it is. I didn't pay attention to architecture when I was a kid. But it is a beautiful building. The stairs are white marble. There's lots of brass and ornate gold trim. It is still painted pink, too. The seats on the main floor have been replaced but the original seats remain on the third-floor balcony. When it was built, it featured vaudeville acts and musical shows. There are box seats flanking the stage and it was easy to imagine women in 1920's gowns sitting in those boxes back when the theater was new and movies were just being born.

There were several sets of framed photos of old movie stars who had autographed pictures for Mr. Liddon