San Val



The CALIFORNIA theater was located on the corner of California Ave. and Magnolia Blvd. Unknown to me at the time, the theater was the closest to my home (only a scant twelve blocks). I had only attended the theater a couple of times with friends to see matinees that our parents (actually my friends parents) would approve of.

So it was in those musty halls that I witnessed such fanciful fair as "Journey to the Beginning of Time", "The Magic Voyage of Sinbad", "The Sword and the Dragon", "Hey There! It's Yogi Bear" and "A Man Called Flintstone" all at the wonderful admission price of .50 cents.

The Theater had a nice sized screen (it's actual size is unknown, eight year old are not that concerned with measurements). A balcony was also available for adults only (another of those instances of adult secrecy that was of constant fascination during our youth).

My memories of the California theater are dim to say the least. What I do recall were the marvelous flavored popcorn (peanut butter flavored or was that just a poor man's Cracker Jack), the deadly aroma of mildewed carpeting, and the occasional seat that would somehow force a spring up through it's cushion at the most inappropriate times. The front rows of the California were simply an adventure that no kid could pass up.

The California Theater as I remember it, the aroma of the front several rows prevented them from being occupied (on the advice of our adult supervision). Now this may have simply been a one time experience. It was during a matinee screening of 'A Man Called Flintstone", so being as how I chronically rely on my driver's license to find my way home, I may not have a full recollection of this particular memory. I do recall that running in the theater was strictly forbidden (signs noted this throughout the lobby, even a title card on the screen before the film) This was usually enforced by escorting the offending child into the lobby and I believe severely questioning him under bright popcorn lamps until forced to finally reveal his phone number or name so that parents could be called and chastised. This was actually a good thing too as I learned on one occasion, when I became inordinately aware that traction at the front row of the auditorium was virtually non-existent. A quiet yelp, and immediate rubbing of bruised knees put paid to that activity for the remainder of my youth.

After The California closed it's doors, it remained vacant for several years. It finally became the home of the Burbank Community Church. I could not, for the life of me envision worshipping in such a place. Piety surely was not worth that much of a sacrifice. Later in the 1970's the old theater was renovated and rebuilt. The current building (which is still the home of the Burbank Community Church), is a nice structure that gives a hint of it's former incarnation.


This site was last updated 07/25/07