A Longmont time ago…
(A Star Wars Memory)
In the middle of 1977 my life was about to change. Surprisingly, I knew it would a bit, but not like it did. I had passed sixth grade (no useless graduations back then!) and was a little apprehensive about entering junior high. There would be new friends met, old friends lost and many other discoveries that I had no idea were going to happen to me. Mostly, junior high seemed very overwhelming and a little scary.
However, that was almost 3 months away, so I wasn’t that worried about it yet. I was going to enjoy my summer, and that meant sleeping in on weekday mornings! That first Monday though, I heard the television on earlier than normal. I knew there wasn’t a monster movie on. I had no idea what my younger brother Eric would have been watching. Turns out it was some morning show, and they were interviewing actors from this hot new film called STAR WARS. Along with the interviews, they were showing clips from the movie (in glorious full screen picture and mono sound, no less).
I was a sci-fi film buff by then, and pretty much thought I was quite the expert on the subject by age 12. Needless to say, I was not prepared to see space battles like that, or light sabers, or droids or that awesome music. Now, to be honest, I had seen the first issue of Marvel’s Star Wars comic book, since it predated the movie by a few months. But I passed it up, as it didn’t have a superhero in it, so how could that interest me?
So after watching the early morning talk show for 3 more days, Eric and I marched upstairs to ask (in the least demanding way preteen boys can do) our long suffering mother if we could see this movie. And she said “yes” being the wonderful mother that she was. This was probably early in June. Which, is about two weeks after the movie would have premiered. Back in 1977, not every movie was released in every town. Longmont didn’t get STAR WARS right away. I am not sure if Fox was striking new prints for more theaters (seems likely), but it was after the movie had been out a week or two that the TV show would have been aired.
On what I believe was a Friday evening my mother piled Eric and me into the car and we went down to the Parkway for the 7 PM showing at the Parkway theater, Longmont’s second and “deluxe” theater. There was not a line there, but the place was full up.
We sat in our seats and the lights went down. To this day, the fanfare for 20th Century Fox makes me wait for the opening theme of Star Wars. And then…
Two hours later the entire theater emptied out, and I discovered I had to re-break myself of the habit of chewing my nails, and that being a space opera hero was not a bad thing at all. My mother was also impressed with the movie as well, though she would not see the rest of the films. All we could do was talk about the light sabers and the blasters and the spaceship battles. We were aware that we had nothing to fear from storm troopers, since they only thing they could hit was a Jawa Sandcrawler. They never were able to shoot the heroes! And of course, the speculation of what would be in the sequel, since there had to be one, Darth Vader got away and Luke needed to avenge Obi-Wan and his father’s death. No way would he let that go! I was sure that the second movie would be more of the same, though how Luke would learn to use the force was beyond me.
This movie pushed all other stuff out of my mind for a while. I was not talking about Godzilla, Spider-man or Star Trek. My brother and I had to talk about it incessantly, and then see it several more times that summer, in the company of other friends and even our 8 year old cousin Ron-Bill, who took it far more to heart than either of us did. It was easy to see that summer, since it stayed at the Parkway for something like 8 or 9 months, if not longer. We had many light saber battles, and used our blasters in the name of justice to destroy any forces of the empire we might find.
Finally, school started, and at age 12 ½ life will start changing, even with laser battles and spaceships running around your brain. You start getting more clothes than toys for Christmas and birthdays, and I never had that many Star Wars toys (I grew up with Mego dolls, and didn’t care for the less than desirable pose-ability of the SW toys). The opposite sex also starts making life more interesting as well. So eventually, my interest in Star Wars and SW related accessories took a more normal course. But after seeing a young man destroy the mightiest weapon the Empire could build, suddenly junior high didn’t seem so daunting. It never was, either!
(I posted this a few years ago, and since today is the 34th anniversary of Star Wars being released I revised it a bit and reposted with the original awesome trailer.)