I wanted to thank all the readers who got something out of the "Radio Shack Shootings and Other Gateway Tragedies" Oddservations in edition #245. The response was unexpected and overwhelming.
To Will Moriaty:
I do recall when Larry Linville ("Frank Burns" on TV's "M*A*S*H") appeared in person at the Country Dinner Playhouse at the old Gateway Mall. A big thrill for us kids was walking by the entranceway of the playhouse (which was near the entrance to JByrons) and seeing the marquee of which star was appearing on a particular week (usually promoted with an 8"x10" B&W still & poster with hand-painted lettering). If my memory serves me, there was both a promotional easel in the walkway with a poster and a glass-enclosed poster marquee. Bob Denver ("Gilligan") appeared there too, probably back in the '70s or very early '80s.
You know, I wonder if I ever saw you when you worked at Dolin's Garden Center in St. Pete. My parents still live in Meadowlawn, in the same house we grew up in when we came to Florida in '71, which is two minutes away from Dolin's. I've been in there many times, even back in '90 to '93.
To Mike Smith:
I spent many a Saturday afternoon at the Gateway Mall Cinemas! When the mall first opened, I believe there was only one screen, then it expanded to two (I always remember it being a two-screen cinema). I always got a kick out of the General Cinema "intro" - the GC logo superimposed on what looked like Smucker's jelly on a kaleidoscope! The accompanying musical jingle was unforgettable - I can still hum it today!
A list of all the movies I saw there could fill a book - here are some of them: "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977), "Star Wars" (re-release), "The Rescuers", "Being There" (1979), "Flash Gordon" (1980), "A Chorus Line", "Time Bandits" (1981), "Jabberwocky" (1977), "Orca" (1978), "The Medusa Touch" (1977), and many, many others.
I worked at the Cinemas briefly in 1985. I recall "Jagged Edge" and "King Solomon's Mines" playing there. Back then, the concession stands had no cash registers! We had to add in our head and use calculators! The job was okay, but at the time, the mall was really starting to go downhill with the loss of one of its big anchor stores, Woolco, in 1982.
I can't believe you remember Chicken Unlimited on 4th Street!!! That's awesome! We used to eat there all the time. I went to Holy Family Catholic School from 1975 to 1981, and Chicken Unlimited was on the way home (sort of) from our walk to school. Plus, I had friends who lived nearby. Three things really stand out about Chicken Unlimited:
Mike, do you at all recall a make-your-own-hamburger restaurant located near the Chicken Unlimited called "Butch Cassidy's" (it was right on 4th St. & 77th Ave.)? We used to go there all the time for great burgers. Back in '80/'81 they had a (small) game room located in the center of the restaurant with Pac Man and Defender.
- The name of the restaurant is "Chicken Unlimited", yet they had a hamburger on the sign!
- Chicken Unlimited offered a huge menu of different types of food - guess that's why they were called Chicken UNLIMITED!
- If you've ever seen HGL's classic "The Wizard of Gore", there's a scene that takes place in a Chicken Unlimited! They even show the classic sign (with the hamburger)!
Chicken Unlimited ended up moving further south down 4th Street, and folded, I believe, in the mid-to-late '80s. For a while, it was a "Pep's Seafood Grill" restaurant. Butch Cassidy's is now a dentist's office.
Thanks to N'sPCR contributor Lonnie Dohlen and Dr. Paul Bearer fan Sam Hankins for writing in.
Mike's reply to Andy appears in this week's Mike's Rant, under "Andy's Letter".---Nolan)
To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com. Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan