Monday, August 25, 2008

Back by popular demand...The Della Theater


A reader named Mary comments on the late, great Della Theater on Welch Boulevard and — Presto! — a photo of the theater is produced, courtesy of Mary Fisher, via Grumkin. Yes, Flint Expatriates suddenly has established a reliable supply line for great photos of Flint in the fifties. (Many of you younger Flintoids may have illegally purchased beer and wine at drive-thru party store that's just out of the frame on the right. I won't mention any names.) The Della was later replaced by a Citizens Bank branch.) As usual, you can click on the photo for a larger image.

Here's Mary's reflection on the Della: "I have wonderful memories of the Della Theater on Welch Blvd. My dad would drop me and my friends off at the theater and come back after the double feature. I felt sorry for the adults that attended those Saturday matinees. The kids were wild. It only cost 35 cents for two movies! Half the time I didn't understand what was going on in second movie — usually a drama that was geared for adults."

UPDATE: I enlarged the photo at home and the marquee reads:
Ginger Rogers
We're Not Married
Carson City

Another Update: A reader has pointed out that it was a Genesee Bank branch that landed near the spot of the old Della, not Citizens Bank. Sorry for the error, and thanks for the correction.

27 comments:

  1. Thank you, thank you! I was trying to remember the name of that theatre! Been there--saw that!

    Hey, I'm loving these pictures from the fifties. Keep 'em coming, y'all! (I mean you guys.)

    Randy "you're not from around here, are you boy?" Gearhart

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  2. Great pic! Love these fifties Flint photos.

    My mom had wonderful home movies of Welch Boulevard in the early fifties- I have to find out where those went to.

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  3. where on Welsh was it? can't remember now...we attended Community Presbyterian Church up that away, after leaving the folds of the Catholic Church, much to G.Mother's soul wrenching dismay...

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  4. I think I'm older than most on here(74).I lived in Flint and area for 60yrs.Love this site.Mid 1940s I went to the Della every Saturday and Sunday.Some saturdays you could get in by bringing 10 or 12 flattened tin cans to help the war effort.Held a girls hand for the first time there in 1944 or '45.

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  5. Yankeedp, you probably took in some of the same movies as my mom, who is 77. She used to go to the Della on weekends with her parents.

    And Jeff, let me know if you track down those movies!

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  6. Wow, that is impressive. And to think I long for the days when we'd go to the theatre on Clio Rd. or the "$100 movies" every Thursday at that fourplex on Pierson.

    Uh...my fond memories of that stretch of Welch Blvd. revolve around the ability to buy 40 oz. btls. of dirt cheap malt liquor at three different party stores- all while a minor.

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  7. ken wallace,jr. father of kenny,kelly,kathy. I went to the Della in '44,'45,& '46. I lived on Copeman Blvd. and went to Civic Park school. At that time the Della cost .10 cents and a bag of popcorn was .05 cents. that's how we spent our saturday afternoons. we rode our bikes. Can you imagine 500 bikes in front of the theater?

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  8. Mr. Wallace, it's great to hear from you. The image of 500 bikes on Welch Blvd. is pretty amazing.

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  9. I grew up in that neighborhood and not to correct anyone, but it was a Genesee Merchantrs Bank Drive Thru. Also, there was a Wendlands store I believe and a great deli...

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  10. These photographs from the 50's are just fantastic! So where exactly was the Della and when was it torn down or converted into something else? I am picturing it near the plaza over at the intersection with Chevrolet Ave. near Stockdale where Johnny's Shoe Repair used to be, though my memory is a little hazy. I wasn't born until late '65 so maybe I missed it entirely. I can't place the Citizens Bank branch either.

    Anyway, I was looking up the Della on the net and came across this excerpt from a bulletin from Saint John Vianney, which celebrated its 67th anniversary this year:

    "Our first Mass as a parish was celebrated on February 2,1941 at the Della Theater on Welch Blvd. The Della was showing a double feature that day, “Boom Boom Town”
    starring Clark Gable, Spencer Tracey and Claudette Cobbért [sic]. Admission was 25¢ for adults and a dime for children. Masses that Sunday were 6:00, 7:00, 11:00 and 12:00. The altar was left on stage behind the screen and Msgr. Flannigan brought everything else with him each week. It was a wonderful beginning."

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  11. from ken wallace jr......glad you printed my comments.to contimue my story, next door to the della was an ice cream store called "BOKAY ICE CREAM". you'd get a cone with slabs of chocolate,vanilla,strawberry.orange, and lime all on one cone. I'd sure love to go back and get one of those today. best cones I ever had. next to that store was Abbey's clothing store,then Schlegals pure oil gas station.

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  12. Went to the Della on Friday night, when there wasn't a sporting event at Norther or the IMA. Boys sat in about three or four rows ahead of the girls and during the Gene Autry or Roy Rogers movies, alot of changing seats took place. If anyone remembers the movie,"Summer of 42" will remember an arm around the back of a theater seat at the Della.

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  13. My father took me and my brother and sister there to see "Sink The Bismark" and "Hatari" as a double feature.

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  14. hey ken wallace jr.

    great to hear from another bassett place neighbor, 2 doors north of you

    dave "slick" mcdonald

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  15. J, wasn't the deli called Wolfies? I remember being in there when my sister was a baby ... I think it was gone by the time we actually moved to the neighborhood.

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  16. Oh yeah, I remember the Della, I'll write some more later, it took me soo long to get logged in I'm beat.

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  17. I went to the Della every week. It was one mile and one block from my house in Mott Park. Loved the serials each week.

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  18. There was an Ice cream store across fromk the Della but it was not BOKAY. Bokay was locaded across from Oak Park Methodist church on N. Saginaw Street.

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  19. The Della can be considered to have been right on track with today's return of 3D movies. The techcnology has hardly changed in 54 years. In 1953 or "54" I was invited to a birthday party at the Della where a Mom took everyone attending the party to a Saturday afternoon 3D Western starring John Wayne. Indian warriors threw a spear and shot an arrow at Mr. Wayne and while both missed him they hit in the audience. The effect of an arrow or spear flying out into the seats had very little difference from when I saw it again in Avatar in 2010.

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  20. > There was an Ice cream store across from the Della but it was not BOKAY. Bokay was locaded across from Oak Park Methodist church on N. Saginaw Street. <

    There must have been multiple Bokay locations, as I recall that the ice cream shop located just east of the Hamady's at Third Avenue and Grand Traverse was a Bokay.

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  21. There was a Bokay ice cream parlor located on the corner of Fenton Rd. and Crawford St. when I was a youngster in the forties. I really thought there was one across the street from the Della theater also. Whatever was there, it was a must stop after the Sunday afternoon movie. I would have lost money on a bet....

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  22. Love the photo. My Aunt Mary Leser's mother-in-law, the lady we called Aunt Del, owned the theatre and Aunt Mary lived right around the corner on Copeman. Aunt Del always stayed at the Durant Hotel when she came to Flint after she moved to Sandusky. She also owned Learner's in Flint and I remember one time being invited to the Flint Country Club by Aunt Del. She took us to Learner's to buy us dresses for the club. But, and here is the capper, we had to go downstairs to the sale area to buy our dresses. I remember my dress was $6.99, blue with a full skirt with a crinolin under it. Aunt Del had a Cadillac with a driver. We thought she was the richest person in the world!

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  23. Aunt Del probably knew how much the clothes on the first floor were marked up. That's why she took you to the "sale" area!

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  24. I spent many Saturdays at the Della. In my grandfathers diary he spoke about the opening and going there with my brothers and sister back in late 30's early 40's. I also went to the bakery across the street after Longfellow and also the icecream store.

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  25. My Dad had a second job at the Della--and I remember seeing Bambi there.

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  26. Great memories of the Della. I remember seeing Gun Fight At The OK Coral starring Burt Lancaster, etc. Also remember the time Larry Mott held a popcorn box up to the projector window. Sound but no picture.

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  27. So many memories of being at the Della in the 50's until it closed in the early 60's. Went every Saturday,we lived on Dayton st. across from Bassett Park and walked to and home again from the Della. Always had to stop at the candy machine in the lobby to get a pack of "Chum Gum". I remember seeing North by Northwest,also remember that Larry Mott was always up to something Tom! Will never forget those days spent at the Della theater.

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