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Stepping out and enjoying a night at the movies
From the Valley
IT WAS A welcome relief for Em’s little family, complete with Grandma and Grandpa from their COVID-pod, to be able to do something as simple and normal as see a movie in a movie theater. Young Thatcher and Waylon may never have been to the movies before. The theater in Richland Center offers private family showings.

RISING SUN - In the morning, when I have my cup of coffee and peel open my social media account, I am prompted by Facebook to look back at my ‘Memories.’ Photos and posts from last year and beyond. 

I usually enjoy it, scrolling through baby pictures of Thatcher and Waylon. Cooing over their adorableness. Or funny things that I had forgotten had happened. But now, this time last year, the memories get more emotional, and occasionally dark. We had entered in what we then thought would be a short-term quarantine. Baking, cooking and feeling emotional, I found myself posting all matters of hopeful things. 

However, like it does, time dragged on and here we sit, a whole year later. I am at the time of this writing, readying for my first Covid-19 vaccination this week and others around me are excitedly doing the same. I anxiously await my best friend's text telling me that in her home state of Iowa, they too are starting to put needles in arms and inoculate folks toward a more hopeful future. 

In the meantime, while we wait for our immunity boost, the little pod joined up and took a trip to Richland Center. What brought us to the ‘Home of the Hornets’ you may ask? The movie theater of course!

Many may not even realize that there are in fact two movie theaters in Richland Center. Of course, it's hard to miss Starlite 14 Drive-in Movie Theater, which actually was the home of my parents' first date. As the story goes, they attended a double feature, which in the 1970s, as some may recall included a less than savory second feature at times. This was news to my dad apparently, and he found himself quite embarrassed about it, much to my mom’s amusement, who reportedly laughed and teased him the whole way home, as he hightailed it outta there.  These days though, it's all kids movies and modern Hollywood flicks. The theater faced a potential shutdown a few years back, but luckily for all of us, a group stepped in and purchased it to keep the drive-in nostalgia alive. 

In addition to the big outdoor theater, there is also a small, vintage theater tucked away in the historic downtown of Richland Center.  According to,“The Eskin Theatre opened as a single-screen theatre in 1937 and had 500 seats and was operated by Sarah Eskin. In 1953, she also opened the Highway 14 Drive-In.” The theater was later split or ‘twinned’ as they call it in the business and renamed the Center Cinema Twins. It was operated by Bill and Lisa Muth from 1988 until it closed and changed hands once more in 2019/20. 

As a way to cope through the pandemic, the theatre owners not only utilized the natural social distancing ability of the drive in, but offered a unique experience at the Center Cinema as well, allowing guests to rent an entire side of the twin theater to themselves. 

Thatcher is a movie buff, who had only been to a theatre experience once before at the Vernon Square Cinema in Viroqua. So, when I saw the opportunity for a safe and private showing, we were all in. 

We made the true mistake of a parent by telling him way ahead of time that we would be participating in such a grand adventure. So for weeks he lamented that it just wasn’t movie day yet. 

Finally, the day came and Thatcher was greeted by his grandparents, Mark and Janet, along with mom, dad and his baby Bop as we paraded into the small theatre. He got to pick out any candy his heart desired (his choice: “The colorful smiley squishy looking ones” aka Jolly Rancher Gummies.) and so did Bop (M&Ms-a true movie theater classic!) and of course the gigantic bucket of popcorn and enormous jug of Wild Cherry Pepsi. We were able to pick the perfect seats and both Thatcher and Bop were blown away by the big screen and the feature movie, Raya and the Last Dragon. Thatcher kept saying “This is GREAT!” and Bop confirmed with a “OOOOOOHHH!!! WOOOOWWWW!” 

Even after all this time, I am reminded that it is important to break free from the worry and weight of the world and get out and shake a leg once in a while. Get a little fun in before all of the farm chores keep us home for the rest of the warm weather season.