Editorial: Campus shows films, makes memories

A BROKEN LEG doesn’t deter a Ripon boy from visiting his beloved Campus.

What 75th birthday present can the Ripon community give to the Marcus Corp.?

It has parlayed our tiny, one-screen movie theater Ben Marcus started downtown in 1935 into a hospitality conglomerate that owns resorts, hotels, restaurants and the seventh largest chain of movie theaters in the country. ...

Let’s give the Marcus Corp. what it gave us: memories. Here are a local boy’s recollections of his favorite movie house.

* * *

First movie I watched at the Campus: “The Incredible Journey.” I was 4. We’ve since bought our children the DVD version of the tale of a lost cat and two dogs. Their TV-viewing experience pales to the excitement my brother, sisters and I felt when we watched the story unfold on the Campus’ big screen.

* * *

As much fun as the feature films we watched were the marvelous, full-color cartoons that preceded them. Somehow the Road Runner, Bugs and the Pink Panther were brighter and funnier at the Campus than they were at home on Saturday mornings.

* * *

I don’t know who appreciated the Campus’ Saturday afternoon matinees more, me — or my mother. Every Saturday between 1 and 3:30 p.m., Mom knew that she could get some rare, uninterrupted time (a nap, perhaps?) while her rug rats howled at “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” and “Herbie the Love Bug.”

* * *

Owning a Campus “Christmas Shopper Show” ticket was like money in your pocket. Merchants paid for weekday evening movies in December that we viewed while Mom and Dad shopped for Christmas gifts at Johnson’s (TV and Stereo), Schultz Bros. department store, Diedrich’s and others.

* * *

The Campus seemed to peddle candy you could get nowhere else. No Kit-Kats or Hersey Bars were in the concession stand, but you could pick up Raisinettes, Mike & Ikes, Milk Duds, Sugar Babies and those color-cellophane wrapped Charms suckers.

* * *

We kids would become so parched from our extra-salty popcorn that we’d continually parade up to the lobby drinking fountain, finally causing the manager — the dapper but stern “Mr. Morgan” — to put a box over the bubbler, suggesting we take and keep our seats. But Mr. Morgan had a soft side, too. After I broke my leg, he made sure I had a seat near the front row (best seat in the house for a 6-year-old!) so I could rest my leg-in-a-cast on a stool.

* * *

Many Ripon boys’ and girls’ first dates were at the Campus. We boys would hold hands with our girls for the first time there, and then awkwardly wonder what to do when our mitts became sweaty (“Do I let go and dry off my hands on my pants? Will she notice?”). Then we’d put our arms around our girlfriends, which probably was uncomfortable for both of us, particularly when the girl’s head would cut off our circulation, causing our arms to fall asleep and go numb. After the movie we’d head across the street to Gus’ Pizza, where our humiliation would heighten as strings of hot mozzarella cheese would hang from our lips.

— Tim Lyke

To read the entire editorial, see the Sept. 30 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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