Sunday, June 19, 2011
The Empire was located next to the Thomas Funeral Home. It was one of the last theaters of its type with the screen situated as it was, behind you as you enter the theater itself. The Empire also had a balcony, reportedly the home of many budding romances. At one point they also sold a Movie Series Package that provided a strip of 10 tickets for $2. Each ticket got you into a Saturday movie. They had the line-up set in advance with the movie name on each ticket. Among the movies shown as part of the series were "Five Weeks in a Balloon", "Zotz" and some of the "The Three Stooges Meet..." movies. As a Child, you could save the medallions form your milk cartons and redeem them for tickets to the Saturday show. At times various churches used the Empire Theater for their services when their church was going through construction or other mishaps. I believe the Empire also held “live’ concerts at one time. In the late 60’s, my name was on a list of people banned from the Empire and at that time Oak Park Theater. One of my friends lit a cigarette in the balcony and inserted the fuse of a Cherry Bomb, (a very large firecracker) in the cigarette. When it burned down, the Cherry Bomb exploded. We could not go to the movies unless we found someone to open the back door so we could sneak into the theater. The site is now a parking lot for Trinity Hospital.