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Ode to the Cinedome, Riverdale UT

When we first moved to Utah, I remember coming over the hill and hitting Riverdale road. Off to the right of the main road was a theater we instantly nicknamed the Dolly Parton theater. Cars were parked around its perimeter for a Sunday afternoon showing of Aladdin that November. Snow was visible on the mountains in the distance, and it was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen.

I was only 12 years old the first time I saw the Cinedome. I knew instantly that I would eventually see a movie there, and the following year Jurassic Park was released. We went as a family. It was the first time we had all seen a movie together in many years. I'll never forget seeing the teeth of T-Rex closing in around me on the curved screen. I jumped a little and grabbed my mothers arm as she sat next to me. I remember her smiling and almost chiding me a bit.

"Oh Honey, it's just a movie," she said. This came from the woman who knew Gremlins gave me nightmares for weeks when I was younger. I was tough for her though. I didn't let her know it scared me as much as it did. I tried to keep the incident with Frankenstein in mind whenever I was scared. I knew it was "just a movie" and kept my startled jumpiness to a minimum.

I always thought I would end up going to the Cinedome on a date, but sadly that never happened. My parents didn't like the idea of me dating really, and the only guy they ever approved of was 8 years older than me when I was 16 years old. To their credit, Eric had lied and told them he was only 5 years older than I was, the exact age difference between my Mom and Dad.

Eric wasn't much of a "going out" person. His idea of a good time was riding a bull named Yellow Dog and drinking Coors Light at home. Eric gave me my first full beer. It was horrible, but I drank it because I didn't want him to think I was just a little girl. I hated it.

There was a house over behind the Cinedome where a photographer lived. He used to do the portraits for all the High School seniors in the area. He had the most amazing lawn I think I had ever seen, but his view was of the back side of the Cinedome. I can't imagine he ever had any true love for the place.

Behind his house though was a hillside covered in lush trees that led down a sewage drain we all called "the creek" and straight to a park. I spent about 80% of my free time at the park, climbing the hill up behind the Cinedome and pretending to climb the bricks that jutted out from the joints of the building.

I remember once I had a couple of friends come over to 'hang out' with me, since we were getting to old to 'play' outside. I had been grounded for something; it seems like I rarely had any free time because I spent most of my time being grounded. Mom told them I couldn't come outside, but she said it was ok for me to tell them that myself. I went out and told them to meet me at the park, I would be there shortly.

"No," Trent said, "You'll get in trouble, won't you?"

"Who cares," was my response. "I'm always in trouble anyway. What does it matter anymore? I don't care. What else can they do to me at this point?"

"Are you sure," Doug asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"Ok," they said in unison, sounding doubtful.

"See you later," I shouted loudly for my mother's benefit.

They headed straight for the park and I headed straight for the back door. They weren't 200 yards away when I caught up to them. We walked straight to the park.

We were sitting on a bench when I saw a familiar little blue Dodge car turn the corner. My mother had known instinctively where to look for me. I darted into the nearby woods and started to make my way up the creek. The boys were right behind me.

"Hey," my mother shouted. "Where's Manda?"

"I don't know," Trent said from the other side of the tree where I was hiding. "You said she couldn't come out."

"Don't you lie to me," she shouted back at him. He stood defiantly looking at her. I could feel the tension in the air. He knew we were in trouble. We had been found. Trent turned to look at Doug who stood a few feet away. Doug looked at Trent. Audible swallows of salivating mouths could be heard. They gulped in unison. Trent looked back at my mother. Finally, knowing she wasn't going to get anywhere with them, she pulled away and drove off around the corner.

The boys and I made a mad dash up the hill, running over the muddy bank as quickly as we could. We had planned on finding refuge inside the Cinedome. The boys both had money and were going to take me to a movie. I couldn't wait! We came over the top and burst through the foliage straight into my mothers waiting car. I knew I was in trouble.

I got into the passenger seat after facing her grinding teeth and icy glare. As we pulled away she let fly with one of her physical tantrums all over the top of my head. At one point she popped me in the nose and it began to spew blood profusely. She didn't even slow down. She just aimed at the top of my head and my stomach again. The boys, having seen this from the back view, called the cops as soon as they got home.

We got a visit from the cops that night. I had been grounded even more severely and was being forced to go to bed at 8:30 that night. I was dressed for bed and ready to hit the sack when the doorbell rang. My Dad answered the door and shouted down to me.

"Manda!" he called out. He sounded amused. "You have a visitor."

I walked the steps up to the front door, puzzled. Dad had NEVER let me have a visitor if I was in trouble before, and even if I wasn't in trouble I couldn't have visitors after dark - even at 16 years old. I peeked around the door and saw two uniformed Officers standing there.

"Young lady, are you ok?" One of them asked me. "You have a couple of concerned friends out there who were afraid you were in trouble."

"Tell them what you did," my Dad urged me.

"I snuck out of the house when I was grounded," I told them quietly.

"But you look ok."

"Yeah, I'm ok. But I'm even more grounded now."

"You'd be worse than that if you were my kid," he answered. My father gathered a deep-down belly laugh at that. They said good night and closed the door. Nothing more came of the incident.

I never did end up going to the Cinedome with Trent or Doug, or indeed anyone but my own family that one time to see Jurassic Park. I always wanted to have that chance, but collectively since I moved away at 18 years old, I've only been back for a total of 2.5 months in the past 13 years.

Now the curtain closes for the Cinedome for the last time. They plan to tear it down soon. I know that I don't have as many memories there as so many other people, but the fact that it was one of the few constants in my life durring my time in Utah has always stood out like a beacon, reminding me that some things are solid enough to stick around forever.

It's unfortunate that it won't be around forever though. Then again, nothing really is.

Cinedome, you will be missed.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for putting up my shot!

    Please attribute.


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