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Column: A Friday night trip to the local video store

When I was younger, I did not truly appreciate the beauty of the smaller things in life.

One of those things was any given Friday night in the 1980s. This included regular stops at the once-powerhouse pizza chain Shakey's, night games for a few extra minutes after the streetlights came on, and a sleepover with a bunch of unruly friends that would result in about eight minutes of sleep.

Often, a Friday night would include a trip to Warehouse Video to rent movies. I remember when the VCR craze made its way to my hometown in Wyoming. A few stores came and went over the years, but there was nothing like a trip to Warehouse Video, whose vast selection was unrivaled.

While there were plenty of times when I had to see a new release, it was often daunting trying to narrow down the choices with thousands of movies in almost every imaginable genre.

If I were with a group, we would usually end up on the top level, going through the horror section.

As my group of friends got older, we would always dare each other for someone to sneak into the "adult room" to grab a movie, hoping the clerk would not recognize that he was renting a skin flick to a 12-year-old. It never worked, although once, when one of us was going in, one of our teachers was coming out, which made the next school day weird.

One of the best parts about the store was that they didn't care how many videos you rented. If I was at my dad's house for the weekend and he was busy doing something, he didn't care how many videos I rented. He did, however, care when I took the movies back a few days late. I had to start renting using my mom's phone number because he refused to pay the late fee.

I spent so many hot summer days when I should have been reading or playing outside watching old movies, and it gave me a tremendous appreciation of cinema.

It was also one of those places where I was always greeted by name when I walked in or checked out. The owner, Matt, would always give me recommendations, and I loved how personable the place was. There were times I would ask him when a movie I wanted to see was coming out, and he would let me take home a copy a few days before he was allowed to put it on the shelves. You could always reserve movies, which was a big deal back in the day.

I've got so much social anxiety these days that I hope nobody knows me, but at the time and place, it meant a lot.

Once you checked out, they always gave you a bag of fresh popcorn. You could smell it from the moment you walked in, another reason this place was so special.

Sometimes, I came home and saw videos and the paper bag of popcorn on the counter, and I knew it would be a good evening.

I remember some excitement when Blockbuster Video opened in town, but I could have cared less. Blockbuster was just the video version of a big box store, and their new releases were always gone about ten minutes after the store opened.

I was saddened to hear the news when Warehouse Video closed, but it was not surprising. I can remember when I moved to Montana, the grocery store and gas station in Whitehall rented videos, but they stopped doing that long ago.

I still see a Redbox occasionally, but it's not the same.

I'll be the first to admit I have a few too many streaming services, but that's the way it is these days.

I need to make more money even to consider going to the theater in Bozeman, but I will occasionally go to the reasonably priced one in Whitehall.

While seeing a movie on the big screen is excellent, I'd rather watch it at home.

I sure do miss the magic of those Friday nights.

One of these Fridays, I will take a long drive to one of the few remaining Shakey's locations. I think there is one in Pasco-and then maybe I'll try to find a video store.

 
 
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