........" Memories of the Allen Theatre"..

 3809 Tweedy Blvd, South Gate, Ca

"Allen 1978"

South Gate's classic small neighborhood movie house going back to at least the 1930s and still showing movies on its single screen well into the 1980s. A real survivor, in 2004 the exterior is little changed except for removal of the ticket booth and it now is a venue for live rock music performers. In its heyday, it was affectionately known as "the flea pit".    Contributed by Rick Albright...S'57..
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"Allen 1980" Original ticket booth "Allen 2000" Ticket booth gone..
Late 2000     Notice outline of old
ticket booth on floor
Theatre built 1930
Major alterations 1936
Seats 673
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2-8-10... Knowing the "Fleapit" had talent shows on Saturday afternoons, Joanne Eads and myself decided we were going to be in the show. So one Saturday afternoon we got dressed up, got on stage and sang "Button And Bows". Remember?" East is east and west is west". We probably were about 10 or so at the time. I can't remember the words now, but it WAS FUN!  My sister, Nancy and I would walk every Saturday to the Allen and every Sunday to the Vogue. The Vogue was further, but we didn't mind..... I also remember getting kicked out of the Allen for making out. I don't know now who it was, but it was a bit embarrassing......Earlene Baker ( Lefler), W'55    702/255-0753


I worked there as a usher, popcorn gal, and cashier in 54 & 56.  I believe I started out  and finished  with a hourly @ .50 cents.
Oh, but it was fun to be in the cashiers box, as I could view everybody's Lowered cars and listen to the pipes as they put the pedal to the metal.
Nancy Rae (Fleming)

7-20-09....My strongest memories of the Allen are linked with Saturday matinee showings of war movies, westerns and a string of cartoons playing to a full house of screaming kids who were constantly in the disapproving beam of the usherette's flashlight. South Gate's other "walk-in" theatre, the Vogue, was a step up in quality. But nearby Huntington Park (the Warner's, the California, the Lyric -- where I joined the Navy upstairs, and the Nu-Park), Lynwood (the Arden) and North Long Beach (the Crest and the Towne) had the really nice nearby movie houses in the 1950s and early '60s. My choice for most unusual theatre in that area is the Fox Florence on the street of the same name. It had Spanish architecture, an open-air courtyard and a fountain/pond with live fish!    Rick Albright  S-'57....


    I Joe Spendlove S/50 worked as the door man at the Allen Theater in 1949/50 .
  Mr. Whitney was the manager, Lillian Waller and Bev Hadley  worked the ticket booth. Betty Mc Donald, Barbara Ross and Marilyn Smith were usherettes, all South Gate Alumnus.
  My job consisted of taking tickets and eating pop corn and taking tickets and eating pop corn and then after the last feature started it was off with the tie and coat and out with the ladder to change the marquee..
  My Allen Theater  career ended in Dec. 1950, we were having a Xmas staff party at the theater, Barbara and I were dating and I felt Mr. Whitney was paying to much attention to her and I voiced my opinion and needless to say he fired my butt. So I went across the street and went to work for the 76 station until I went in the Navy Aug. 1951.
     Keep up the good work, the site is great.....Joe

7-4-09....…Reprint from Special Memories......    I have one special memory of the grand old theater that happened to me many years ago.. The time I was asked to leave the theater…. well not asked, told to leave… This goes way back when I was going to Bryson about the 4th or 5th grade…and I had this friend who was a very odd lot.. some thought crazy.. and who had no friends that I knew of except for me…Some of you may remember him… Gordon Moe… His mother was a teacher at Bryson.. Mrs Laura Moe…. Well Gordon could get in trouble no matter where he was.. nothing serious that I know of just caused problems where ever he went…We didn’t spend too much time together as my folks did not approve of him one bit…but one Saturday Gordon called and asked if I wanted to go to the Allen with him and I said ok…well I think I must have realized something would happen but I went anyway… What I didn’t know at the time but found out later was that Gordon had consumed a large amount of Sauerkraut and ribs the night before.. which in turn gave him a huge amount of gas… And let me tell you when Gordon had a gas problem the last place he should be was in a theater….. I didn’t know any of this when we sat down near the front of the theater and the cartoons started…Everything was ok for a while but then Gordon leaned over and said he had a problem and we had better move quick… He didn’t have to tell me twice… wow… we moved quickly out of that row, up the isle to some seats on the right side of the theater…as we were sitting down I heard someone down front say out loud in a nasty tone…”O my gawd…… Well it looked like we were ok for a few minutes when Gordon said one more time … we better move… well with no place to go we went to the lobby then back into the theater on the left side and sat down but was too late… A usher and manager wanted to see us in the lobby then told us to leave the theater… which we did… Gordon and I laughed all the way back to his house ..I then went home…. Gordon,  his mom and dad moved to Downey a few years after that…and I didn’t see Gordon again…..except for a few times he dropped by when he was about 18… Many years later I found out Gordon had died at 50 years old in a emergency room in San Diego from a brain aneurysm and they had listed his occupation as a junk man….Gordon was an odd sort….. so long ago…….DM

Every Saturday morning I would get up early and head for the vacant lots next to Atlantic. I would collect beer (quarts) and coke bottles. I usually wound up with at least 25 cents worth. My friend got an allowance, but I didn’t. We would usually walk to the Allen for the matinee, but first we would hit the pool hall next door to load up on candy. After a bunch of cartoons, a serial and either a western or a Tarzan flick, we could stay for the regular movies if we had time, but we normally tried to get home before the street lights went on.

     My dad used to go to the Allen every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for Keno. He would bring all of my friends to help because he would get extra Keno cards with every admission and with every popcorn purchase. We would have Keno cards on both legs as we played for him. Every once in awhile he would win a dollar or maybe even five. You would have thought he had won the lottery, judging by the big grin on his face. After the first movie and Keno, we would head for home.

Walt Sharer – W’ 59


     I was an usher at the Allen.  It was my first taste of 'authority,' dressing in a real uniform and wielding a flashlight.  As I recall, the uniform was filthy (probably worn by dozens of girls before me) but it didn't seem to bother me at the time. 
 The flashlight made me feel so powerful - don't remember if I actually did it or just imagined flashing it on kissing couples.
 It was my first job - at the time I didn't guess how many years I'd work at 'real jobs' in the future.
 Also recall a lot of the 'bad boys' hanging out at the pool hall next door.
Will look forward to others' memories of the Allen.      Nancy Buchanan Hettich, 1957

6-16-09..  Reprint from Special Memories.    Going to the movies at the Allen Theater on Saturday; we walked. My mom always telling me not to go into the Pool Hall that was right next door. But....the pool hall had some real good candy, stuff you couldn't get at the movie and cheaper. The smell of beer and cigarettes was strong and the men looked scary but we went in anyway. Then running home after the movie if it was starting to get dark.
As we got older and wanted to go to the movies, we had to go to the Vogue theater. Our Mom or Dad would pick us up and always told us we could see the movie over if we wanted to. I'm sure our folks were glad to get rid of us for a few hours and we thought it was great seeing the movie twice and maybe sitting next to a boy or girl you knew from school.  Bette Weninger (Murch) S'56

6-15-09....Reprint from.. Cinema Treasures.. I remember the Allen’s Square Shooters every Saturday in the late 40’s and tossing the popcorn box’s at the screen! How about the contests and such like balancing a baseball bat on your shoe longer then anyone! I lived just around the corner on San Carlos about in the middle of the block and known as BUTCH... Any bells ring?  How about all the penny candy next door to the theater…
   Butch and brother Mari..
    The Hansen boys....


    From about March of 53 to 54, I was the "Ticket Tearer" there and I worked with  "Ticket Sellers, Candy Girls, & Usherettes," Janet Werkheiser, Marfae Masters, Juanita Escorza, Carole Adams, Nanette LeFever & Vivian Cannella.... South Gate Girls all!
    We were kids working for about a buck an hour, but what we ended up with were incredible memories of all the MGM, 20th Century Fox, Columbia, RKO, Republic, Paramount, and Universal movies of the day. 
       The Tweedy Inn Bar was just across the street and a Gay Guy named "Clem" would hit on me every night when he would stagger out of the bar. But as that "dork" Kobe Bryant would say, "I wuz up to da challenge!"
There was soooooooo much more!       Paul Cardinal S-54

    My name is Nanette LeFever Castor and was in class W'55.  I worked at the Allen Theater for almost 2 yrs., 1953 & 1954. , Here are a few things I remember.
      I was hired as a usherette for $.50 an hr. and wore an uniform.  I worked nights and Sat.  I was on the 4/4 program at So. Gate High.  My job was to seat guest with the flashlight and watched for kids doing wrong such as putting their feet on seats.  I was able to see most movies standing at the door while not busy.  What a treat!
     Later I was made a candy girl with a different uniform.  I poured large plastic bags of popped corn in the warmers.  Melted lots of butter, waited on customers and cleaned up before we left for the day. Also took inventory.
The favorite was frozen candy bars.
     I was promoted to the box office where I sold tickets for $.25, counted money and rolled coin by hand and made out a deposit slip.  Later I also did the payroll and had to stay late one night to do this. I was making $.75 a hour then.
   The last boss, theater manager, Mr. Barry was a very difficult person to work for.  We had a staff meeting before the theater opened one night and I was chewing gum.  He told me I looked like a cow chewing it's cud.  I was very embarrassed and to this day I have not chewed gum a lot.
    Paul Cardinal and Carol Adams were my best friends at the theater and we still remain in touch.
            Thanks for all your work with the web site.  It is so much fun to read.    Nanette LeFever Castor


    Of course we called it the "Fleapit". I thought for years that my older cousin made up that name. Then I got into HS and found out everybody called it that. Many years ago there was a small restaurant across the street (before SavOns) called Lucill's. A big night out for us kids was to go to movies then Lucill's. My very first date was at the Fleapit, with Bobby Fernald. I think we were in 6th grade.      Billie Holloway Marxmiller W'56

     About the Allen Theatre from Marlys Nelson Grodt:  S'54
My husband Dick Grodt, also a South Gate graduate of Summer 1954, remembers going to the Allen on Saturday mornings (starting at about age 10) where he met neighborhood friends and saw a serial, a cartoon and usually a Cowboy movie. He lived at 10407 San Juan, just south of Tweedy. He said his mom gave him a quarter which was enough for admission and a small bag/box of popcorn. It was a Saturday morning ritual, unless he was camping with his folks. After the movie, sometimes he'd go to the drug store next door and buy ice cream or a comic book if he had enough money. When he was in junior high, sometimes he would meet a girl named Helen Wagner there when her parents would let her go. She moved away after junior high.

I didn't move to South Gate until 1951 so I don't have any elementary or junior high memories of the Allen. But Dick and I started dating in the 10th grade (1952), and we went to the Allen all the way through high school. It was a good place to sit close to each other and hold hands. Sometimes we even watched the movie! After we married in January 15, 1955, we'd see a show there on Friday night or Sunday afternoon when we could afford it. Our first apartment was at 9621C San Luis, just north of Tweedy, and we continued to live there and go the movies at the Allen until February 1959 when we moved to the brand new three-bedroom home we bought January 7, 1959 in Westminster, way out in Orange County, California. Great memories!

       Thanks to Ken Mc for his pictures of the Allen Theatre in its current state...