Thursday, September 18, 2014

Golden Age Movies and Milkshakes To-Die-For

One of my favorite places to go on a date night is the Stanford movie theater in Palo Alto. Last week my husband was on a business trip so I took the kids. We saw the 1931 classic version of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. My daughter thought it was pretty "cheesy" and only slightly scary, but my son and I got into the story and thought it was pretty spooky. That is the risk you take when you take children to see black and white movies, some will enjoy it and some will only look for the missing special effects.

The marquee is not actually missing any letters, my camera didn't pick up the way they were lit!

The Stanford movie theater, built in 1925 and restored in 1987 by David Packard, only shows movies from the "golden age" of Hollywood. The interior of the theater is beautifully detailed. It consists of one screening room that also has a balcony.

Photo from the Stanford Theater Website.

Detail of a Ceiling Panel.

One of the best things about the Stanford theater is the Wurlitzer organ that seemingly rises from beneath the floor. The organist plays before and after each 7:30 show for about 10 minutes. On Wednesday evenings the theater often shows silent movies which are accompanied by the organist. It is quite a show! Imagine playing an instrument non-stop for 60 to 90 minutes. You have to see it to believe it! The night we were there, we heard Bill Taylor - one of the regular "masters of the Mighty Wurlitzer."


Adjacent to the theater is a room that showcases many posters and mementos from classic movies. It is fun to walk through and linger, or rush, as the case may be, when you have kids in tow. You can only enter this room through the lobby of the Main Theater.

Dracula's Next Victim? Not on my watch!

After going to the Stanford theater, it is a tradition for me and my husband (and now kids) to go to the Peninsula Creamery at 566 Emerson Street, Palo Alto. The Peninsula Creamery is a 1950s style soda fountain and diner that was built in 1923 and restored sometime in the 1980s.

Photo by Catherine Sweeney and Mr. TWS
The menu is varied with delicious food made from scratch. And in my humble opinion, they have the best shakes in the nation. I always get a hamburger and chocolate milkshake. My daughter got a Thanksgiving style turkey dinner that she said was the best restaurant meal she'd ever had, followed by an Oreo shake. My son got a mushroom burger with a chocolate mint shake. The portions are generous and the shakes are absolutely huge. I learned from experience to skip the fries and eat a small salad with my burger, leaving room for the shake. My son was full but made himself finish the shake - it was a matter of pride. My daughter was full but didn't want to leave a drop behind, it was too delicious. We rolled out of there but it was totally worth it.

Notice the classic TV hanging up in the corner, also the working jukebox!

Milkshakes to-die-for . .

To be fair, the Peninsula Creamery is also known for its delicious pies. You can see why.

Only a chocoholic like me could resist pies like this!
If you go: I'd recommend the classic movies for older children who will be patient with the old style of filming. If you have a film history buff, they will love it. If you haven't seen many classic movies, try some! They had to rely on good stories, drama, humor, song and dance - not special effects. It's also nice to watch a movie that's not edited with frenetic cuts and pounding music for once.

Ticket Prices: Ticket prices are $7.00 for adults, and $5 for Seniors (65 and over) and Youth (18 and under). And take note of this– they only accept cash! No credit cards, so be prepared.

Have fun!

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