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Love Me Some Movies

Where it All Began

Hyart Pauline Baird Jones

I grew up with an amazing theater in my small town and I had no idea that everyone else’s theaters were like ours. I was looking back at some posts from 2014 and found a post talking about our theater (pictured above).

When you look at that photo, you might think, “So what?” It’s a movie theater. But our Hyart Theater isn’t “just” a movie theater, especially when you consider the size of the town I grew up in. According to Wikipedia (from the 2000 census), Lovell, WY has a population in the 2300 range. It probably went up and down a bit as I grew up, but that’s pretty close to what it was when I was a little girl. 

Looking at their website, I see the Hyatt still only shows movies on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (includes a matinee on Saturday afternoon). When I was a kid, the theater would close in the summer and the movies shifted to a drive-in location outside of town. 

With a few exceptions (like church and school activities), movies were the primary form of entertainment in our little town. I can still remember hopping from one foot to the other while we waited in line to buy a ticket. As we’d get closer to the ticket window (there was only one), you’d get a good look at the poster for the currently playing movie. 

Ticket in hand, we’d push through one of a row of glass fronted doors into a spacious lobby with rich red carpeting that flowed toward the candy and popcorn counter. It was pretty genius of them to have glass-fronted counters (though I bet they were a pain to clean after numerous noses were pressed against the glass). Oh, the choices! And the smell of freshly popped popcorn. 

Nothing like it. Ever. 

Choices made and secured, we’d make our way into the theater. You could go up into the balcony or into the main area. Often the balcony was the choice of couples in love. So my parents usually steered us away from the balcony. 

And then the lights would go down, the sound would come up and heavy drapes swept back. A newsreel. A cartoon, then the main event. I saw Mary Poppins in that theater, and a host of other Disney titles. How to Steal a Million.  The original Italian Job. Doris Day. Cary Grant. *Happy sigh* I always loved the comedies the best. Or a good action flick. Saw a lot of westerns with my dad. He liked the war flicks, too. 

Like the books I loved and still love, the movies swept me away into romance, danger and adventure. It has been a peculiar delight to be able to collect many of my old favorites in digital, but there is nothing—nothing—to match the experience of watching a movie in the Hyart Theater.

It was only after I grew and moved away that I realized what a truly unique place it was and continues to be. Many places that had similar theaters have torn them down. Kudos to Lovell for preserving this remarkable and historic building where a new generation of movie-goers can fall into the magic that is a movie. 

Do you remember the first place you saw a favorite movie? Did the venue matter or just the movie? What is your favorite movie from your childhood?

I love movies and I love talking movies. 

Perilously yours,