Stacey Darling loves watching family movies at the Ellsworth Air Force Base theater in South Dakota because it’s so much more affordable than taking her three children to the multiplex in nearby Rapid City.
Darling, whose husband is an airman, has been catching second-run films on base for about 2 1/2 years, and was there Saturday for the theater’s last showing, a screening of the animated movie “Hotel Transylvania.”
The movie theater is among 60 around the globe run by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service that is screening its last picture show amid the industry’s conversion to digital projection.
Frankly, I’m a little surprised they haven’t shut them all down. 40 years ago, there were a lot more single troops, with much lower pay. Fewer single soldiers had cars to get off base, and televisions and other entertainment options in the barracks were pretty slim. So going to the base theater to see The Sting was a pretty attractive option.
But even 25 years ago, my buddies and I would go off post to see movies, or of course, crank up our TVs and VCRs.
One interesting bit for you non-veterans out there. Before every showing, the projectionist plays the national anthem. Everyone stands, many of us sang, and almost inevitably, at the end of the anthem, a hearty “Hoohah!’ sounded off.
What was your favorite MWR activity? And which ones did you think were probably a waste?