“You like go movies tonight?” I would hear that at the end of a busy week in elementary school. About a block from Nanaikapono Elementary School, on the corner of Nanakuli Avenue and Farrington Highway, there stood a wooden outdoor theater called Homestead Theater in the early 1950’s. The Mahelona family that owned the candy store next door built it. There was always a popular movie shown on weekends, a treat for our country town in the evenings. The structure had no roof and was filled with wooden benches with backs that were worn from the sun. Of course, you could buy snacks to eat at the adjacent store and bring them into the theater. Another plus, you could burn green mosquito punk coils if the insects bothered you.
Loud laughter and conversation abounded, and you could hear the chatter and booming voices as you approached the doorway. I was used to the silence of movie theaters in Honolulu and thought this was quite strange. After I paid my 20 cents for admission and entered, I was surprised by all the enthusiasm and excitement of the moviegoers at this theater. I could not afford to buy snacks, but I realized I was not the only one. I saw many people opening up bags, sharing homemade meals and bentos from home. It was like a picnic in there! While I waited patiently for the movie to start, I drooled at the different kinds of food that surrounded me.
Finally, the lights would go out and the show would begin. Laughter and talking continued throughout the newsreel and cartoons. I thought these people would calm down and concentrate on the feature movie when it started. I was in for a shocking surprise – they kept on chatting and laughing out loud! I remembered the ushers at the Princess Theater and King Theater who used their flashlights to flag down disruptive viewers in the audience. But there were no theater ushers here, and it would have been dangerous to complain as almost everyone was not paying attention to the screen.
This noise continued during the entire movie, and I went home without any idea about the feature movie. Thinking it might have been an exceptional night for audience noise, I returned to watch another movie several weeks later. The same thing happened. Then I decided it was more fun to stay home and laugh and talk with my family on weekends.