Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A piece of my life is going away...

...a major piece, in fact, though I'm not really going to go into great detail about the whys and wherefores.

Last Saturday night, the Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena finally closed its doors. This time, the shutdown appears to be final...



Built in 1925, it seated only 1200, but took up more than a half-block on Fair Oaks Ave...



The Rialto's last operator ran a chain of "art" theaters. They never made much money, so the place deteriorated over the years to a point where, despite fresh paint in the lobby, it was a rathole by the time the end came. I took a shot of the lobby through the locked glass doors, would loved to have had a final look at the "East Indian"-style auditorium...



So what did the Rialto have to do with me? We'd have to go back to a summer night in 1965, when I was taken there for the first time. What I saw and heard that night led not only to my prime avocation but also to some long-lasting friendships and experiences I would not otherwise have had.

A fire in the early 1970s destroyed a part of the Rialto's interior. After that, I never had reason to go back there. Some of the visible damage remained to the end, I'm told, but it was worse than later movie-goers knew.

Memories of those wonderful days are so vivid -- I have recordings to refresh my memory when I wish -- that I can sit and replay some wonderful evenings there in my mind.

I hope someone saves the place. Given the screw-the-old, make-way-for-the-new mentality of those in charge, I strongly doubt that will happen.

Eighty-two years isn't a bad run, I guess.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh no! When I was in Grand Prairie the downtown theater was still there, I checked, but that is just nothing like the Rialto!

MrScribbler said...

Okay, "anonymous" -- where is "Grand Prairie?"

John said...

Not much anything like that in my life is still standing. Maybe that is why I hate to look back and remember. Much of it had no real need to go. Result of skullduggery on one level or another

joan said...

Oh, I hope it can be saved. What a sad loss.

Anonymous said...

I was looking at some places around here close too my house. Time has past and I guess just like me things get old and worn out. LOL
Roz

Birdie said...

I hate to see those old places go. The theater in my town that I used to visit as a kid got torn down about 10 years ago... for another shopping mall! :-(

DAL said...

It's a beautiful old building, but it takes a hell of a lot of cash to rebuild. Our own old theater is still undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation and has been for sometime. I'm not sure how much of the original will even still be there, aside from most of the exterior.

A huge part of our downtown is protected from razing and over-rebuilding, so a lot of it still looks like it did 100-150 years ago.