A few memories of the Ritz

Ritz Theater circa 1945

By LOU FLOY MILLIGAN

    As I reel about the ideas of doing something between the two walls of a beloved landmark the Ritz Theater, I hope it is what the town needs and can enjoy.
    Years ago, when the theater first started not being used, my heart cried out, “People, somebody! Please take a little money and preserve this treasure!”
    It could be used for lectures, special movies, preaching, drama, and meetings. Through the years thousands of hearts had soared when they walked in those doors. The Ritz Theater was the highlight for years for the entire surrounding population before televisions became numerous.
    My first memory of the Ritz was as a small child in my dad’s arms. Everybody wanted to go to the movie on Saturdays. All your neighbors and friends were there; there was a western movie, a continuing suspense movie, a cartoon and previews for coming shows. The popcorn was the best tasting thing. I remember being so frightened when a huge train or stampede of buffaloes looked like they were going to land on top of me. My dad held me tight and put his hat over my eyes. It must have been a straw hat with cracks, because the horse was still there, jumping off the screen directly on me.
    Those were exciting times, when in elementary school, the teachers marched with us down town to see the Walt Disney Classics. Then, as an adolescent, I was tall for my age; and Mrs. Anderson wanted to charge me an adult price. I had to give my birthday very fast.
    As a young lady, I was fortunate to have a good-looking, personable cousin living near me. She had lots of suitors and would let us younguns’ go with them to the movies.
    Before I was old enough to date, it was exciting to have a place to gather with my friends and hold hands with someone special. Later, when I was dating, there was one awkward time at the Ritz. A special cousin stopped by with others and asked me to go to the movies with them. After we left the house, the car stopped and picked up one of her relatives standing by the road. The fellow was an OK fellow, but I felt deceived. I have never forgotten that emotion.
    One day, as a teenager, I drove the old farm truck to the Ritz. This was the day that Hurricane Hazel wanted to greet our area. I kept walking outside to check the weather. Then when I left, the weather had changed suddenly. It was scary driving home in the wind and rain, especially with the window out.
    Later, as a mother of a very young lad, I took him to the Ritz to see “The Jungle Book”.  Wow, we enjoyed the animals and their singing and dancing. Seeing the expression on my son’s face and hearing him laugh so loud, delighted the entire audience, and is still a treasure in my happy memories.
    As thrilled as I was that my child was enjoying that precious animal show, something made my blood boil. The upcoming previews were perverted and sinful. One had women being tied to stakes and murdered. It was not long after that big posters were put outside to advertise.
    In college, my friends and I enjoyed many great movies, and now as I flip the television commercials, I want to see a good story, not one catching a serial killer or committing adultery.
    Going to the Ritz added a lot of great memories and happy times. Thanks to those who made it possible.

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