The Richmond Register

December 17, 2013

Madison County, a good place to grow up

By Carol Prewitt
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — I was remembering when I was a child that my mother would give us children a quarter on a Saturday to go to the movies. That would cover our ticket into the movie plus some candy.

Sometimes we would walk. It was probably a mile or so. Sometimes mother would drop us off and pick us up later. It was a much safer world back then.

The previews would come on first, then the main feature. A news reel and a cartoon would be between the first and second feature.

My oldest sister, Sandy, was responsible for us but she seldom sat with us. She usually met a boyfriend and sat in the back row or up in the balcony.

Here in Richmond it was the Towne Theater that later became the State Theater on Third Street and Main and the larger Madison Theater at the corner of Madison Avenue and Main that at some point burned down.

My husband remembers getting in for 10 cents. He doesn’t remember any particular movie, probably because the movie wasn’t his main interest in going.

Jean Bogie remembers seeing “The Ten Commandments”. And Jamie Prewitt remembers hearing the story of when she was an infant and her sister, Pat, just two years older, their mother, Alma, took them to the theater so she could see Elvis Presley in “Jail House Rock.”

There were two drive-in theaters, too. The Buccaneer was on Lexington Road (US 25) north of town. The other was the Richmond Drive-in at the US 25/421 split.

Jean said she never got to see the end of the second movie because of the curfew set by her parents. After she was married, she told Perry she wanted to go and stay just as long as she wanted!

Then there were the local places young people would go for a burger.

When I was growing up, we had the A&W Root Beer Stand. You always backed into your parking space so you could see who was cruising through and so they could see you.

The car hops were given a hard time because so many kids would take off with the frosted glass mugs as a souvenir. Really, it wasn’t the mug as much as it was a teenage dare to see if you would get caught or not.

Cruising was big here, too. The trail led from the Dairy Bar on Big Hill Avenue, owned by Ed and Vessie Robinson, to Jerry’s, where the Senior Citizens Center is today. In between, you had the Dairy Cheer on Water Street, owned by the Halsteds, and the Bunny Hop, a 1950s style diner on Water Street.

The Silver Diner was going strong, also on Water Street, as was the Colonel’s Drive-in with its big neon sign that said, “Come As You Are,” owned by Tony Merino.

Skating rinks were a popular place. There was one on Second Street and Moberly Avenue that at one time was operated by Phillip Payne in the old Armory building, which is now home to the city of Richmond Recreation Department. Another was behind what is now Ollie’s on the Eastern Bypass.

In the summer there was always the swimming pool on Pin Oak Drive not far from from the Arlington Country Club. Jamie said they usually had summer passes, and many kids could walk or ride there bikes to the pool. When she was in fifth grade, she told her father it was time she jumped off the high dive. Her father told her she couldn’t do it unless he was there. Soon he showed up and stood at the fence. Jamie climbed the high ladder and hesitated. Dad yelled, “Well, are you going to jump?” “Yes.” she said and made the dive. That’s one of those landmarks in your life that makes you who you are and you always remember.

Of course, there was Boonesborough Beach, too, where whole families went for picnics and swimming in the river and life guards were on duty. Now the river is too polluted, so they have a nice big pool.

Today we have the large, pretty complex at Lake Reba where all these things are in one spot.

Berea also had some of these same things, but I don’t have any particulars to print here.

I hope the memories will be as meaningful to this younger generation as our generation.

Seems like Madison County always considered families and the young people as an important part of the life of it’s communities. That’s a good thing.