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X Movie Theatre

- jack - Wednesday, March 29th, 2006 : goo

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image 10163
this store at one time was a movie theatre. it was the, lowes oriental. it was a magnificent theatre. my favorite uncle, bob, took me there when he came home from the war. he had been thru the battle of the bulge and he helped liberate concentration camps. he went to war at 17 and came home at 21. he wanted to enjoy life again and so one day, i think it was in 46 or 47 he took me to the movies. just to walk around that area was a thrill. the el above is the west end line that goes to coney island. it runs over 86th street from coney island and then curves around at this place and becomes new utrecht avenue. if you look at the pic you will see the street continues and goes down thru the avenues. this is bensonhurst. there was a trolley that ran under the el and continued all the way. can you imagine living there then and jumping on a trolley and riding down to coney, it must have been wonderful. i only remember taking the trolley at bay parkway and going to the oriental (as we called it). the theatre as you walked in was like stepping into another universe. immense. my uncle bob brought me all the way up to the top balcony and as i stepped out of the hallway through the doors and into the seating area it became pitch black. i lost all sence of sight and became totally blind. i held onto his hand tightly and stepped down into a seat. my uncle was with his buddies and i just sat there as they patted my head and said there hellos and i saw the great screen for my first time. i was so frightened of falling out of my seat and over the balcony that i didn't say a word for the entire movie. i don't even remember what was playing. i was glued, silently to my seat. later the lights went back on and from the dizzying heights i made my way back to the doors and down the stairs running and jumping on the carpeted steps. it was a time of great movie theatres and great people who were happy to be alive and home.

This article has been viewed 19634 times in the last 10 years

Peter: 29th Mar 2006 - 15:19 GMT

i love the sentiment of this piece. i wish that neighborhood was still filled with the sort of people that have a zest for life.

also: i can only day-dream about riding a to ... i bet that was a blast!

EvilGentleman: 29th Mar 2006 - 18:39 GMT

I know what you mean about the grand old theaters, as I have watched them all disappear one by one. I remember watching numerous movies in the Capitol Theatre in Cornwall, Ontario. The Capitol has a stage, like so many of the old theaters do, and is fairly well documented at I used to love staring at the reviewing boxes protruding way up high on the side walls towards the front of the theater. Sometimes I did not understand the movies, cause I missed so much of the plot while I would stare around at this grand old theater that was so unlike the multiplexes that were already starting to spring up by the early 1980's. But the Capitol was torn down in 1991, despite being declared a national landmark. The city had lied about a few things and an irreplacable memory was lost, and now my children have no clue what it is that jack is talking about, they wonder what all the fuss is about an old theater. If the Capitol was still standing, I could take the kids there and show them, and they would understand the grandeur of it all, the smells of the theater as only an original theater can have, the ornate mouldings on the ceilings and walls, the strategically placed decorated columns. Architecture had no finer moment than it did in the grand old theaters. And soon there will be no more. Anywhere. All gone. Sometimes, progress produces new and wonderful things. But at times like this, it sucks worse than anything.

I also remember the old Loews in downtown Montreal which shut down recently... wow! I just did some web research, although shut down, it looks like the Loews may still exist! With the grand auditorium intact! Look! I have to find some way to save this gem from the wrecking ball. Maybe there is hope after all.

EvilGentleman: 29th Mar 2006 - 18:46 GMT

Life is how funny in so many ways. I am 36 years old, and yet even though I am probably younger than some of jack's children, he is so able to press buttons that cause the memories to come flooding back.
VOTE JACK IN '08! America is overdue for an Italian-American president...

jack: 29th Mar 2006 - 19:44 GMT

my fellow americans, as your next president i will end all taxation, i will open up the borders to mexico and make sure there is a chicken in every pot in every home, and blah, blah, blah......thx evil but no thx, i enjoy being who i am at this juncture of my life. i retire may 1 and my oldest will be 34 and she has two boys that i would do anthing for and my next guy will be 33 and hopefully he will have good news for me, and my youngest daughter will be 32 and she is expecting, i'm praying secretly for a little girl to hold in my arms to kiss night and day and my 30 yr old just started working in manhattan, my old town. he is still single and a great kid. i can't wait until my wife and i can really relax and just play all day the way we did when we were first married 37 yrs ago. and yes, peter i rode the trolleys every day to coney and into bensonhurst to bay 13th street to visit family. i used to hang on the back of the trolley with my skates on and roll into coney.

jack: 29th Mar 2006 - 19:57 GMT

another little note, in the summer, the hot summer days, my friend and i would ride the trolley and look for a young lady with a dress on and wait for a gust of wind to blow up her dress a little to catch a glimpse of stocking or even the ultimate, a peice of garter belt. sick little runts we were. by the way i'm going to vegas and then san diego to visit my parents. they are in their 90's. my mom still wears her high heels and short shorts and walks around like the model she used to be. i'll take my camera.

EvilGentleman: 29th Mar 2006 - 20:50 GMT

It's ok jack, I don't think they would let me vote for you anyway.

Catherine Penfold-Waxman: 29th Mar 2006 - 21:56 GMT

I could vote for you Jack. Especially if you came through with that chicken. Free range.

jeeff: jack, great article.

Elicar: Jack is on a roll! Yeah!

joey: 30th Mar 2006 - 05:48 GMT

i was just in san diego. you'll like it. you'll probably eat at anthony's down on the waterfront.

jack: yep, i ate there, it was great.

Matt: 14th Jun 2006 - 04:08 GMT

Jack, I have thoroughly read and enjoyed your posts on this site, particularly as I am a former NYer, now living in the South, with fond memories of my childhood growing up in Coney Island. I enjoy researching the history of the old town but enjoy even more to hear about it first hand from people like yourself. My parents recently left Brooklyn so it has become increasingly difficult making a special trip to go back and chat with those who saw so much...before I was even invented! If you have a website, blog, anything, please do post it here. I would love to read more of what is in your mind's eye. Again, thanks for the excellent trips back through time.

Boggy: 2nd Oct 2006 - 19:14 GMT

Further down 86th Street there was another theater at the corner of 86th Street and 20th Avenue. I wasn't living in the area when they closed it up, but I got a glimpse of some of the grandeur that was its lobby when they were fixing up the Rite-Aid that took it over. Does anyone know what that theater was called?

jack: yes, it was the benson theatre.

yo: 8th Dec 2006 - 02:58 GMT

what about the marboro theatre on bay parkway? y'all forgot about that!

karen: 5th Jan 2007 - 06:40 GMT

Hi all, I lived on the same block as the Benson Theatre and boy what fun it was to be 1st in line back in the 50's, if you were the first 50 or so kids in line you would get popcorn and soda for 10 cents, plus all the cartoons before you saw the movie which in those days were Abbott and Costello or the Three Stooges, does anyone remember that? All those doors in front and the kids just raceing to get in, those were the good days don't you think Jack! Boris you may think you rule but Bensonhurst was our home and our father's home and you my child are from a different world!

Todd P: 14th Jan 2007 - 21:30 GMT

We used to go to the Oriental, also the Alpine on 69th & 5th Ave, the Harbor on 4th & around 90th st., and the Fortway too.Great times!

Jenny: 17th Jun 2007 - 04:37 GMT

Do you know anything about the movie prop house on 85th and 21st

Boggy: 12th Aug 2007 - 04:25 GMT

The only things on 85th and 21st is a dry cleaners and a pizza place (The Grotta Azura). I lived a block away on 85th and 20th until three years ago, now I'm on Bay 31st and 86th. As for the Marboro...torn down a few months ago.

jack: 4th Sep 2007 - 14:16 GMT

wow, here it is september 2007 and i'm listening to all of you talk about the theatres in brooklyn, yes karen those were great day's waiting in line to run into the theatre on a saturday childrens movies. i waited in line at the highway theatre on kings highway between west 6th street and 7th street. a free bag of pop corn, 10 cartoons, and then the theatre would go dark, the movie would begin on the curtains as they rolled back and then the big screen would glisten as the movietone news would begin, then a double feature and they would let the kids out around 3:30pm into the hot sunny air. day's of our youth, they were special day's, but the special day's have ended, they have passed on but are still alive in our memories, that little part of our minds where we keep all those happy feelings, happy thoughts, we keep them because we need them, there in the dark recesses of our minds, like in the dark theatres as the show was about to begin, and everyone becomes quiet.

Jenny: 10th Sep 2007 - 23:47 GMT

Im talking about a private house in that area that has all movie props outside his house including the batmobile. I know its 85 street on the right hand side.

Mike: 12th Jan 2008 - 05:44 GMT

I'm looking at this photo, and it is sending shivers down my spine. The last time I saw this theater was in 1985 - I was 15 years old. My childhood memories of sneaking in to see my first 'R' rated movie were here. I saw more movies in this theater than I can remember : "Close Encounters", "ET", "Raiders of the lost Ark", Robin WIlliams "Popeye", Cheech and Chongs "Nice Dreams", Robert Redfords "REDS". My family moved to Fla in 1985 and I always wished I'd get a chance to see movies in a theater like this one's just sad to see it's a store now.

jack: 19th Jan 2008 - 05:29 GMT

ok jenny, i will go to brooklyn to visit my aunt and go looking for the prop house and take some pictures for you. karen if you saw the shows in the 50's then your around my age, im 65.7 years old. you could be around 57 to 60 then your a young girl like my wife.

bunni: 11th Mar 2008 - 22:58 GMT

I also remember the Deluxe theater on 20th avenue and Bath ave. a few blocks away from ps200. Also, on 86th st. was a cafeteria called the FAMOUS. Great tuna and chocolate pudding. I am 60 and remeber seeing High Society at the Oriental. I really got sad looking at the Marshalls store where the theater was. It has remained in my memory for 50 years now.

jack: 12th Mar 2008 - 04:01 GMT

you know, 86th street, under the el, in the summer, hot, sweltering days, but the shadows of the el always kept me cool, that was my area for awhile because all my family was housed around those blocks, does anyone remember on bath avenue around bay 13th street a barn with a horse in it, it was my great-uncle's barn, he made cement blocks in there with my grandfather and trump's grandfather would buy them to build his homes along the belt parkway, where the varazano bridge is. i fished off the rocks on the belt by bay parkway that was once called 'nellie bly', there was a boat rental there and you could take out a row boat and fish the waters in the narrows, then they filled in the water bay and built a shopping mall, i think caesers store was there, then the projects went up and eventually pushed out coney island, so i'll go to 85th street and 21st avenue and look for this movie prop house that karen needs to see pictures of, better still i'll call my friend patsy and he lives a few blocks from there and then i'll take some photos. make a day of it and go to spumoni gardens for a slice and a spumoni, yes, thats what i'll do.

Tiffany: 2nd May 2008 - 02:39 GMT

OMG, I miss that neighborhood so much. I am 37 and moved to Staten Island a few years ago. I grew up in Bensonhurst. What a neighborhood! Nothing like it. I hung out on Bay 19 and 86th street. Right on that corner of the "Lowes" as we would call it. Greta memories from there. The Benson was small, but a nice place to go see a movie on a rainy day! I will NEVER forget my memories of 86th street! Any " Guetos" around? Excuse my spelling! :)

EA: 22nd Feb 2009 - 16:12 GMT

I saw Gidget goes Hawaii there with Deborah Wally. I think it was '58 or '59. This is when theaters had celebrity day.

Boggy: 3rd Apr 2010 - 16:57 GMT

Jenny, I haven't been on here for a while and didn't see your last comment. I lived right down the street from the movie Prop house. It's on 85th between 20th and 21st. The collection has grown over the years. I don't know how he does it, but it's a must see when you're in the area.

Tom: 24th Apr 2012 - 03:17 GMT

Brooklyn in the 70's and 80's was the place to be. People were much happier, fun, and good hearted. I flet so good walking around Brooklyn. I used to be an usher at the Lowes Oriantal when star wars first came out.I used to go to White Castal and loved to go to Coney Iland and to Brighten Beach. Lots of Irish,Italian,and Jewish.back then. 86st around Christmas time was the best place to buy Christmas Gifts. Carnarsie was Irish and Italian...Lots of things have changed. I used to go to Roller Palce in sheeps Head Bay. All Gone...Lowes Oriental and the Benson and the Marbouro theater. Lots of my friends and family movie to the west coast. I wish those days had naever gone and Brooklyn always stayed the same.

INKY: 2nd Jul 2012 - 01:43 GMT

There is or was a Brooklyn Public Library not to far from the Oriental. When I turned 18 my draft board was on 86 street and 21st avenue.(Across the way from Woolworth.). Again on 86 street and 20th Avenue(a store or two from the corner)there was a kosher deli named Hy Tulips. Their hot dogs were delicious. I believe the Benson movie theater finally became a Rite Aid store. I played my basketball and dated girls at the Jewish Community House(JCH).
Finally I was born on 81 street and 20th Avnue. I attended PS 128, PS 186 back to PS 128 and then New Utrecht High School.
Good luck everyone...............think back and enjoy

INKY: 2nd Jul 2012 - 02:06 GMT


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