'Star Wars' memories

Saturday, December 12, 2015


We asked World-Herald readers to share their memories of seeing “Star Wars” — or any of its sequels, prequels or special editions — on the big screen. For most respondents, the experience was unforgettable. (Responses were edited for length.)

Scott Wilson, Omaha

The original “Star Wars” was the first movie I ever saw as a young kid in the late ’70s. Watched it at the old drive-in movie theater in Alexandria, Minnesota. My folks made popcorn to bring along in the car. I remember thinking afterward, “If this is what movies are, I’m hooked.” Definitely looking forward to the new film.

Monica Baxter, Omaha

I remember when the first episode came out in the ’70s. We got tickets for the opening night. Afterward, we had the same expression of “Wow!” on our faces. We sat through the end credits and didn’t want the music to end. We’ll never forget that night at the Cinema Center when we were thrilled with Luke, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewie and all the rest.

From the World-Herald archives
Advance media attention for “Star Wars” was sparse, The World-Herald included (sorry, readers). But coverage of the phenomenon was swift, and we found some in our archives.

Julie Maloney, Council Bluffs

My son was 9 years old in May 1977. In Seward, Nebraska, our single-screen theater showed the movie twice each night, back-to-back with a short intermission. If you liked the movie, you could stay in your seat and watch the movie twice for the price of one ticket.
To say my son fell in love with “Star Wars” is an understatement. After the first night, he begged me to go again. Thinking I could dampen his enthusiasm, I told him that as long as he could pay for both our tickets, we could go again. I neglected to consider that my frugal son had saved most, if not all, of his birthday and allowance money up to that point. In the end we both saw “Star Wars” 24 times, with me sitting in the back row and my son sitting as close to the screen as possible. (Moms did not sit with their kids in the theater for fear of embarrassing them in front of their friends!) Despite, or maybe because of, our shared experience, my 47-year-old son and I are still “Star Wars” fans and will be in the theater on Dec. 17, though sitting together this time!

Marc Barrett, Omaha

My fondest “Star Wars” memory is watching it on the big Cinerama screen at the old Indian Hills theater when it first came out in 1977. Granted, my memories of the screen being really huge are likely distorted a bit by the fact that I was myself a tiny child of 6 years old at the time. Nevertheless, I still miss that old theater.

Darol Smith, Omaha

In the fall of 1980, I was 7 years old and in St. Luke’s Hospital in Sioux City, Iowa, for two weeks. “Empire” had just come out that summer. I was able to leave the hospital for short periods of time, and I begged my parents to take me to see “Empire.” Mom took me to the Orpheum in Sioux City to see it. I loved it and became a lifelong fan of the “Star Wars” movies.

David Young, Council Bluffs

I took my first girlfriend to see the movie in the spring of 1977. This was our third date, and I was very shy. We were watching the movie when I got up the courage to take her hand in mine. I wasn’t sure what her reaction would be. She held my hand and put her head on my shoulder. I was in heaven. We held hands all the way home. I walked her to her doorstep and put my arms around her and pulled her close. I was going to kiss her when she up and kissed me first. We dated for about 18 months. This movie brings back that special night.

Eileen Williamson, La Vista

The first time my brother and I went to see it was in Little Rock, Arkansas. We didn’t know what “Star Wars” even was. I have one of those very detailed memories, so I remember riding in the car with my family and complaining that I didn’t want to see a movie about a horse. I thought my parents were saying “Star Horse.” Of course we loved the movie and saw it several times after that.
My brother and I would go out and record sound effects with a cassette recorder after we saw one of the “making of” documentaries. You never outgrow “Star Wars.”

Rachel Jacobson, Film Streams Director, Omaha

My dad is the one who remembers. I will warn you, he’s known for hyperbole. His claim is that he took me to see “The Empire Strikes Back” at the Dundee when I was not yet 2 years old. I was born Aug. 23, 1978, and it was released in May of 1980. He says he had to take me into the lobby every time Darth Vader came on screen because he was too scary. It’s still one of my favorite movies, the darkest and best of the original trilogy.

David Jacobson, Rachel’s father, Omaha

I’ll just add that the experience was so incredible for Rachel; it shaped her love of movies for the rest of her life.

Patrick Brookover, Arlington, Virginia

It was the summer of 1977. My friend and I went to see the first “Star Wars” at the theater near Q Street in Omaha (Q Cinema). There hadn’t been a landmark science fiction movie since “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and we were big sci-fi fans.
The credits started rolling. Then the theater made an announcement that there was a tornado warning and everyone was asked to evacuate. We all started shuffling to the exit rows. Then the small spacecraft appeared, followed closely by large warship. Everyone stopped moving and just watched, mouths open. This movie was something altogether new. With the movie still running, we all just went slowly back to our seats. After the movie, we found there had been a lot of wind damage, but Omaha was safe and we had seen an incredible movie. We never knew why they didn’t stop the movie, but we were thankful that they hadn’t. What a day!

Pat Meierhenry, Lincoln

I don’t care for fantasy. I have never read “Chronicles of Narnia,” for instance. “The Hobbit” leaves me cold. Therefore, when “Star Wars” first came to our movie theater, I didn’t go. But my children did.
When they got home, they told me it was good that I didn’t go: “You wouldn’t have liked it, Mom.”
Now, my grandchildren are anxiously waiting for the new movie. I can recognize Darth Vader, a Stormtrooper, R2D2 and Princess Leia. I still don’t know the backstory, except that I think Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father, right? For every fan out there, may the Force be with you.

Mary Younglove, Omaha

In June 1977, I went to see “Star Wars” on my first date with the man who would eventually become my husband. We had to go to a later show. I was enjoying the evening very much and enjoying the movie when I looked over at my date to see if he felt the same. No, not exactly; he had fallen asleep. I love practical jokes and immediately thought about moving to a different seat. Then I realized that I didn’t know him very well yet and decided that he might wake up and forget that he was with me, leaving me at the theater all alone. He eventually woke up and all was well.
This year, we celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary. Since we were unable to go out to celebrate this year, we will be attending this year’s version of “Star Wars” and hoping that neither one of us falls asleep this time.

Dan Coffey, Omaha

My parents took me to see “Star Wars” at the now-gone Indian Hills Theater. I was dressed in a Darth Vader costume and had an inflatable lightsaber. I was so excited, not only because it was “Star Wars,” but because it was the first time I had been to Indian Hills. Almost 40 years later, I still think of that moment when I drive by where that theater used to be.

Laura King-Homan, Omaha

Watching “Empire Strikes Back” at the drive-in movie theater in Kearney, I was so excited to eat my Happy Meal and see the movie. I think (director J.J.) Abrams will do justice to the material with “Force Awakens.” I have to admit, the first time I saw the first trailer, when the Millennium Falcon zooms up, I got chills — and a bit teary. So yeah, you could say I’m excited. My son, Jake (almost 4), is already being indoctrinated with his own “Star Wars” toys and books. He’s a little young to go to the movie, and my daughter could care less, but my husband and I have tickets for opening weekend.

Douglas McMullen, Omaha

I remember as a kid lining up on opening day at the old Indian Hills theater and waiting to see it. Afterward, my mother and stepfather took me to Burger King to purchase the glasses that they had with their value meal. To this day, I still have all the glasses.

Donelle Underwood, Omaha

I was 8 years old when the first (fourth?) “Star Wars” movie came out. It was the first movie that my mom let me go to with friends. I think I was so excited to be at the theater with my friends that I don’t exactly remember a lot about the movie itself except that it seemed so realistic at the time.

Mike Hagstrom, Omaha

I recall, after being utterly captivated as a child by the original “Star Wars,” sitting in a booth at the old Mr. Steak restaurant and innocently looking up at my mom and asking, “Is the Force real?”

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