Arcade Cartoon Theater

I’m not sure if this will ring a bell with anyone, but it is an interesting thing, that provided entertainment. When I was a little monster between the ages of 5-7, I totally dug it!

Back in the 70’s, there was a coin operated two person cartoon theatre booth at the Summit Park Mall. It sat next to the big water fountain penny pond in the center of the mall. You would pop in your money, sit on the bench seat, with a friend or sibling, and sure enough, you would get a few cartoons on a little 10-12 inch screen. The cartoons were Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy, Popeye? Definitely the first two, not sure of the last one.

When you went to the mall, you went with a battle plan. If you were a little monster, you had to know where the toy store was, followed by the ice cream place. The cartoon arcade was directly in front of both.

Trying to convince my mother to let me peruse the toy aisle wasn’t too much of a hassle. There was a lot more freedom to roam back then. We’d set up a meeting time at the fountain, then it was free reign!

The plan was toys, bookstore, record store, ice cream, coin-op cartoons! I’d start with McCrory’s department store, because their toy section was always great! There was tons of Mego’s, GIJoe, HotWheels, rack toys, etc. I could sustain myself just by ingesting the sights.

Then, it was time for the Walden’s bookstore. This is where I’d find great paperback covers for Conan novels, monster magazines, and Marvel Comics Funbooks (a series of comic character puzzle / game books).

After some time there, it was record store time! Why would a little monster care about that? Power Records, and a visually freaky band called Kiss!! Just looking at those posters and album covers were a thrill! I could care less if they could carry a tune! I figured they were a bunch of movie monsters or something! That even led to me getting a Kiss Alive 2 music book, for guitar, vocals, and piano, because it had about 30 or so amazing color photographs! I learned to play some of those songs in my weekly piano lessons.

I’d go the ice cream place, which was connected to a diner which had an entrance into McCrory’s. I’d check the time on their clock; still plenty of time before mom came looking for me! One small rainbow sorbet cone obtained, and it was a direct line to cartoons!!!

There were usually a few little monsters (yours included) hanging at the cartoon arcade. Someone would put money in and at least a half-dozen of us, would watch the animated shorts. Basically, the monster with the money got the inside seat. Everyone else was riding for free, and hung on the outside. There weren’t many arguments. It was simply argreed to, and exercised in that way.

It was great to see Chilly Willy and Woody in this type of setting. Neither were on tv that much in our region at this time. Between the dixie like music as the soundtrack, and the glorious slapstick antics, you could hear little monsters laughing hysterically around this epicenter of the mall.

Sometimes, a little one would be sitting on the seat waiting for someone to start it up. You would do your best to round-up a few to make sure your coin was getting its worth, and giving everyone a chance to watch some animated glory!

The arcade booth had big painted Woody Woodpecker, and Chilly Willy, on the sides, and back. I think it had a red interior. It had a bench seat. It’s funny, but it is definitely one of my favorite things!

Until next time

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