Unfortunately, this image does not capture the romance and magic of the theater interior, the wide variety of colors and textures is missing as is the artful lighting. The Avalon had a sense of the Arabian Nights about it, making it a delightful place to see a show, which in those days was always a double feature, costing kids just twenty-five cents.
The Avalon – which still stands, although it has been much changed and defaced as a fundamentalist church – was the largest and grandest of our neighborhood theaters.
South Shore had a amazing variety of theaters – we called them “shows” – in those days. The east side of Exchange, just south of 79th Street, had the smaller Chelten, the west end had the Avalon (near Stony Island).
Stony Island Avenue had the Stony.
75th Street had the nice little Shore Theater – the site of raucus twenty-five cartoon shows on Saturday mornings complete with flying popcorn boxes and the odd sticky candy landing in the dark – and east from Exchange Ave, the little-known Ray, a tiny place to which I never went.
71st Street had the large and beautiful Jeffery (near the street of the same name) and the Hamilton, a somewhat smaller but nice theater, further east.
Except for the Stony, these were all within walking distance, at least the “walking distance” of those days which was a mile or two for many people.