Driving through town the other day, I saw Mrs. Peters walking. I pulled over and thanked her for what her and her husband meant to Lisa and I and our family.
Ron and Elizabeth Peters owned and operated the movie theatre in Invermere. Toby Theatre was the hub of downtown. Its big neon sign and movie posters in glass cases mounted on the exterior were a constant pleasure for every kid and adult while growing up in the Valley.
Inside was a thing of beauty. Snack bar with the best popcorn and cold fountain drinks (I was once addicted to the Cherry, it froze my throat and gave me a headache if I drank it fast enough, and I always did), the aquarium in the lobby, the model planes flying high off to the side as not to interfere with the projected light from the film, and the films were always good.
That was our entertainment growing up. I went to every movie. If it was restricted, my Mom would write me a note saying it was ok to let me in. I saw bare breasts and gore. Mom and Dad were probably happy I was out of their hair. I saw True Grit with John Wayne, during the 70’s, countless times.
Toby Theatre showed films. Sometimes the films were not new releases, like you see in theatres today. Sometimes they were older, but always great.
Ron and Elizabeth didn’t put up with rowdy or rude customers, this was also their home after all. They invited you in, you toed the line and it was wonderful to see movies on a big screen.
My children were lucky enough to go there before The Toby shut down. They loved it as much as us.
By then they had also started renting VHS and DVD movies. We would often send the kids down to rent a movie on Friday nights. We would also tell them to pick us up some popcorn as well.
Small town theatres like Ron and Elizabeth’s don’t exist anymore. Back then it was an escape, an oasis in a place lacking in the kind of magic it provided.
Things are different now. I could watch any film shown at the Toby’s 45 year history on my phone. But it’s not the same.
They call what has happened gentrification, or progress.
After talking to Elizabeth on the street. Telling her what a wonderful place they had, how it meant so much to us, we bid farewell. I turned and was walking, thinking she may not remember me, I have a grey beard after all, when she said, give my best to Lisa, Kelsie, Madison and Hunter.
Photos of Kelsie taken at The Toby Theatre.