Do you know at which movie theater you saw your very first movie? I don't know what movie was my first (my mom thinks maybe it was a re-release of "So Dear To My Heart," but if so, I don't remember that film AT ALL), but I am pretty sure I saw it at the Har-Mar (named for HARold and MARie Slawik) theaters in Roseville, Minnesota, since I grew up in neighboring Shoreview.
Har-Mar Mall went through a lot of changes in my life. Built in 1961, by the mid-1980s the mall started to get somewhat seedy, especially compared to neighboring snazzy Rosedale, and the tornado that hit in 1981 (ripping the roof off the Color Tile across the street!) didn't help matters.
But unlike its sad sister mall, Apache Plaza (they had the same designer), Har Mar had nine lives. A Barnes & Noble was added recently, and it's kind of given the entire mall new life. But I was shocked in December when I flew home for Christmas and couldn't find the movie listings for Har Mar. I asked if the movie theaters had closed, but no one seemed to know.
Turns out it did close, in early December, with little fanfare -- the mall remains open, but the theaters gave way to Rosedale's brand new movie theaters, which stupidly have an outdoor box office. (I remember when I first went to California and saw outdoor box offices. I told Rob "We could never have this in Minnesota." But apparently this movie designer didn't care to do any research, or ask a random child on the street, who could easily have told him it gets cold in Minnesota in the winter.)
Outdoor box office aside, I'm sure the Rosedale theaters will be lovely. But I'm a little sad that if I ever have kids, I can't take them to the place where I saw my first movie. Rob and I stopped at the closed Har Mar theaters and pressed our noses up against the windows to take photos, and it reminded me how vintage cool it was inside--shiny gold walls, enormous mod chandeliers, and the most amazing ladies room I have ever seen, where each stall had floor-to-ceiling doors, was painted in a different primary color from the stall next to it, and where each stall had its own private sink inside the door. You try being a kid whose mom takes her to the bathroom during a movie and telling her you want to wait for the blue bathroom to open up.
The Cinema Treasures board features posts from people discussing Har Mar's mod chandeliers and obese mice. And this guy posted some photos *though sadly, none of the bathrooms).Here's another neat exterior shot.
And here's a neat entry about Har Mar Mall in a retail history Weblog that I definitely need to bookmark. Note that a lot of the photos show tables set up in the mall -- Har Mar was always hosting shows or fairs, and my first job, helping a neighbor lady sell bathroom plaques she made at craft fairs, involved more than one craft fair held at Har Mar.
For old Minnesota stalwarts only, here's a photo of the interior of the mall with the new bookstore in it. See that stairway? That goes down to the bathrooms (and a kung fu studio, as I recall), and those were the bathrooms I remember hiding in and crying in one day when I was a freshman in college and had had a horrible fight with my then-still-in-high school boyfriend. I cried in one of the stalls, and was mortified when some kindly momlike lady asked if I was all right. Ah, the heartbreak of first love.