The Museum of Broadcast Communications lies near the foot of Chicago’s Marina Towers which, so far as this night was concerned, was not without its irony. Back when I was growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, it was home to our favored UHF station, WFLD Channel 32. Whenever I was home sick from school it provided a welcome alternative to the soap opera-soaked major networks by offering much more satisfying shows such as Tennessee Tuxedo, The Munsters, and Banana Splits.
Of course those programs would only tie me over until the weekend when Channel 32 would unleash its REAL entertainment. On Saturday nights I’d drop a blanket in front of the family television set and prepare for two hours of monsters, air-popped popcorn, and guaranteed laughs via my favorite horror host, Son of Svengoolie. Yes, despite the constant struggle with our TV antennae in an effort to minimize the often snowy reception, my memories of those nights remain crystal clear.
When I was growing up, our town (like many at the time) had it’s own local theater. It wasn’t one of those big multiplexes you see today but rather a one screen wonder offering standard-sized viewing and a small popcorn machine/soda fountain serving as concessions. I remember the lobby having a musty odor and being adorn in red velvet; the theater seats so old you’d invariably be sitting at an angle. I also recall my grade school friends and I snickering at nude, Greek statues (missing their heads) that stood at opposite sides of the entrance.
The Homewood Theater was already in it’s decline when I was a kid back in the ’70s but, one Saturday during summer months, would provide throwback experiences once commonplace during my parent’s youth. On these occasions, they’d offer affordable “all day” movie experiences featuring family friendly films along with cartoons, Three Stooges shorts, and old serials in between.