Friday, March 8, 2013
Memories of Huron Theatre in Waterford
Of The Oakland Press
Many Oakland County buildings are more than just buildings to local residents but are instead reminders of their childhood memories.
Hundreds of Oakland Press readers shared their memories of the Huron Theatre. Some of the movies people remembered watching there were Rocky Horror Picture Show, Jaws, Mary Poppins, Dirty Harry, the Sound of Music, Imitation of Life, Old Yeller and Gone with the Wind. The single floor theater, which seated 426 people, opened at 941 W. Huron Street in Waterford Township in 1942 and burned down on Christmas Eve 1983 while showing "Return of the Jedi."
Jodi Prahler remembers that her brothers saw one of the last movies at the theater shortly before it caught fire.
“I remembered being so worried that there was a show on at the time of the fire and relieved to hear that no one was hurt. My family lived close by, and we could really see the smoke, flames and hear all the sirens,” said Prahler.
Pontiac native Judy Clees said “Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi” was the last movie played at the theater.
Pontiac native Judy West said she remembers when the movie tickets only cost 25 cents.
Mark Lawrence of Waterford Township said, “You could get a pack of life savers for a nickel out of the vending machine and a Dr. Pepper for a quarter. Popcorn was 25 and 50 cents. The best smells in the world were in that theater. I miss it to this day.”
For White Lake native Leslie Evans, the Huron Theatre was where she got her first kiss. And Clarkston native Gary Niver said he went on his first date there to see “Westward Ho, the Wagons!”
For Gloria Barron Tovar, the Huron Theatre brings back memories of her father.
“My dad would pick up us kids every weekend and take us there to go see Disney movies. We definitely built many fond family memories at that theater,” said Tovar. “Huron Theatre equals daddy memories for me. God rest his soul.”
Jean McMahon Knie of South Lyon said she used to get into the theater for free because her father was a Waterford Township firefighter.
“I saw all the Disney movies there. Remember when Herbie the love bug was there?” she said. “(Huron Theatre) was past Joe's Army Navy. It was right on M-59, the plaza where Bobett’s Lingerie shop was.”
Waterford Township native Jacquelyn Rudlaff said her grandmother used to work at the Huron Theatre and, when she was little, she would spend the weekend with her to help her clean.
“We would help sweep the concrete floor in the theater and were allowed to keep any money we found. One time I found 35 cents and thought I had found a gold mine,” said Rudlaff.
“I remember too the smell of the pink polishing creme that we used to shine the doors. Grandma told me never to say anything about this because she said she would be fired. I don't think Gram has anything to worry about now.”
Paula Rayman Gazette of Waterford Township said she remembers the woman who sold concessions.
“She was a short lady with glasses and no smile. Heaven help the kid who got to the counter without a firm candy decision,” she said.
Many people said they remember the “cry room” at the Huron Theatre — and wish that more theaters today had this.
Waterford native Kathy Parrish Myers said, “They had what you call a crying room next to the projection room where you could take your kids and be able to teach them how to behave in a show and not bother the other people.”
Melissa Donovan-Woodard of Grand Blanc said, “I remember my mom taking me to see Cinderella. And I remember the crying room. We ended up there a few times because of my brother Michael.”
Forty-four years ago, Kathryn Hoff said her mother would drop her off with her three brothers and sister to watch a matinee show on Saturday or Sunday afternoons. Many times, the theater would show double features, Hoff said.
“The place would be filled with children,” she said.
“The movie that I remember most was about Black Beard, the pirate. It couldn't have cost more than 50 cents a piece because I just remember having a few quarters in my pocket and that paid for admission and popcorn. After the show, our mom would pull up out front to pick us up. The road would be filled with parents picking up their kids. Great memories.”