San Antonio Theatres:
Now & Then
Past & Present
Billy and Madeline Copeland have been good friends since our Do Nothin' Gang in 1981. They opened the Melodrama Theatre in HemisFair Park and there we held our Centennial for the Shooting of Jack Harris.
We first met when I started the Woodlawn Theatre Booster's Club in 1979. Billy and Madeline got involved and they lent us the use of their Children's Theatre to hold some of our meetings.

Good Morning Gary;
Thank you for the sites!! For the last hour I've been looking at them
and having "Flash" backs!! hahahaha
I would like to give you a few first hand memories and your welcome
to use them if you wish!
#1 The Palace Theater
My mother worked at Sears & Roebuck in 1948 thru 1951. My step father William Forrest Kennedy was ranch foreman for W.E. "Red" Berry at his place on Hwy 90 East. Well on Saturdays I would walk from Berry's ranch to Sears and get a $1.00 dollar from my mother.
With that money I would go to the movie. I went to all the downtown
movies, Majestic, Texas, State, Joy but my favorite was the Palace!
Why>>>two reasons: #1 They had the very best soft ice cream!! I
mean the chocolate was fantastic. #2 For 50cents I could see a double
One of the things about the Palace it had the same type ceiling, sparkling "stars" and rolling clouds as did the Majestic. I usually came into the theater from the Broadway Street (LoSaya) side. The
ticket office was inside so you could enter from either the Alamo
side or the LaSoya side!! You know in those days I really didn't think how far a walk that was!!
Now, I get tired just driving it!! hahahaha
We moved from Berry's to town and had an appartment on Myrtle
street and I went to school at Mark Twain. Awww the Laurel Theater!!
It was a nice theater but, it really didn't show movies that a 8th and
9th grader was interested in. I can only remember going there one

My best friend during that time was Tommy Tally. Last time I saw
Tommy he was a mechanic at Sears repairing lawn mowers and
chain saws and anything else Sears sold that had a motor!! Tommy
lived down town on Buena Vista and we met at the YMCA. We would
ride our bikes down town and go to the State theater. Now by then
the State was actually on it's last legs, saturday's they would show
two Westerns for 50 cents. I remember the smell like it was yesterday!
It wasn't pleasant, but, who cared, you got used to it in a few minutes
and enjoyed the show!!

Now I progress to being a teen and having my own car and dating!!
Weeeeee The Varsity Drive in!! The Fredericksburg Road Drive In.
The Varsity was at the corner of Culebra and Bandera. The Fredericksburg was on Fredericksburg Road where the American Legion is now!

I sincerely believe that the "Passion Pits" were responsible for a
zillion marriages!! hahahaha Then some idiot came up with the
idea of "Daylight Savings Time"!! I have never ever been able to
figure out what it saves, except makes the sun go down an hour
later!! This basically put the drive ins out of business.

The last drive in that I remember going to was after Madeline and I
married and we had two kids, it was the San Pedro which was located
just south of North Star Mall on San Pedro!

O.K. I left the last for the Woodlawn Theater. I had my first "real" date
at the Woodlawn. The girls name was Colleen English! We sat in the
balcony and I have no idea what the movie was. I was in the 9th grade
and all of a sudden I was "Grown" up!! hahahah Madeline and I also
went there later.

In 1991  we sold our Children's theater San Antonio Fine Arts Center
and all our props to a couple of people and they moved it to the
balcony of  the Woodlawn. After a few months one of them was acendtally killed and the other no longer wanted to do theater so Madeline and I took it back over and ran it till 1996. Our son Clark
died in Dec. 1994 and that sort of took all the joy of theater out of us.
So we closed it Actually just walked away from it leaving everything
there so that the owner could rent it out if he wanted to.
Now, Gary, if you have read this far>>>I have a question for you?
Madeline's grandfather James M. Willard >>>"Willard the Wizard"
moved here in 1919, I found him on the 1920 census with a house
on North Flores. He listed Madeline's dad Harry F. Willard and his
younger brother Tommy Willard and the one that gave me a laugh
Mrs Willard! No first name for her, she was Mrs Willard!! hahaha
Her father Harry was born in 1895, so in 1920 he was 25 and already
a showman doing magic. My question is this>>Have you ran across
any poster or advertisements showing James playing in any of the
theaters? We know he did, but, we haven't been able to find any proof.
Also, I have heard of a guy in Seguin who collected Tent Show posters
but do not know who he is, or even if he is still alive. That was several
years ago!
Thanks again for the sites!! Sorry this became a book, you just got
my memories going!!
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