Summertime in Belmont

Summer in The Olden Days

As I was driving down the streets of Belmont today I noticed one thing missing: Kids! Where are they? In day camps, sports camps, nature camps, computer camps, math clubs, etc?  Good or bad, times have changed. I remember back in the old days the streets would be full of kids playing Whiffle Ball, Hide-and-Seek, One Foot Off the Gutter, Football, and Red Rover. In backyards we were building forts and trying to dig holes to China. We left the house in the morning, sometimes came home from lunch, and were always home for dinner.  After dinner, we'd go out and play until the streetlights came on. Everyone knew each other, and my friends' moms were like my moms. We had sleepovers, during which we would sneak out and try to scare the girls at their sleepovers.  The ice cream man came around every day-and although we couldn't hear our mom when she was right next to us-we could hear that ice cream truck coming three blocks away! If we wanted to see a movie, we could go to The Belmont Theater or The Starlite Drive-In.  Yes, we had a drive-in in Belmont. The Starlite was located on the east part of Harbor, on the block between Harbor and O'Neill.  It was built in the late 50's and operated until about 1971. It held 550 cars. It was the place to go, either as a kid wearing your pajamas or when you were a teen--especially if you had a trunk that could hold several people. If you lived at the O'Neill end of one of the E,F,G,H,I,J,K streets (Elmer, Furlong, Granada, Hiller, Irwin, Judson, and Kedith) you could watch the movies free from your bedroom or front yard. The theater closed and was demolished in 1973, but that's not the end of the story. How many of you remember what was built next on that property?  It was huge, but only there for a couple years.  Please comment with your answer and any other memories of The Starlite.

Next Time:  Mayfair Market, Summer Rec, The Belmont/Bel Art Theater, and Jorgensen's Dairy.

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Terri Cook July 19, 2011 at 10:05 PM
I could have written this blog! Even though George is a little older than me (ha ha!), these are exactly the things we did growing up. My dad used to joke that there were 47 kids living in the one long block where I grew up on Coronet. When the streetlights came on, that was our curfew. Because there were still many vacant properties way back then, we could walk from our house to the Carlmont Shopping Center with only having to cross one street. So onto George's question re Starlite.....I remember the drive-in. I believe it was a coke bottling plant that went in afterward? Am I right?
Laura Dudnick (Editor) July 19, 2011 at 10:19 PM
I didn't know Belmont used to have a drive-in! That is so cool. Thanks for this blog, George, and for your comment, Terri!
Mary Morrissey Parden July 19, 2011 at 11:46 PM
Being an old-timer myself, I think Terri has your answer George! In the 60's and 70's, there were a number of independent bottlers (not just Coca Cola) in the San Francisco Bay Area. The San Francisco bottler, the San Jose bottler, the Oakland bottler, the Novato and Belmont bottlers were independently owned. The San Francisco bottler led the way with consolidating those entitites into one complete Bay Area bottling operation. A guy named Ron Jones was instrumental in that consolidation. He ran the Belmont, California bottler and became a fixture in the "created" company, ending up in New Orleans when Coca-Cola Enterprises (the company he helped create) purchased the bottling operation from the Zetts family. Jones as VP of the New Orleans Company, negotiated a purchase of Hygeia Coca Cola, a Pensacola bottler, who owned operations in the Florida panhandle and up the eastern seaboard. CCE spun some of those locations off to a company called Consolidated Coca Cola (North Carolina based) as those locations were a better fit for them.
Terri Cook July 20, 2011 at 12:09 AM
and just to set the record straight, I'm nearly 3rd generation Belmont. My mother moved her in 1930 (age 8). So I have stories from her going back to her childhood when they were the only year-round residents on their street (Pullman) and the big outing of the weekend was hiking to San Carlos. My house on Alameda used to be the first fairway on the golf course. It's likely many Belmontians don't know we had a golf course as well. We also had a dog race track.
George Metropulos July 20, 2011 at 12:12 AM
Yep--it was a Coca Cola bottling plant, which was only there a couple years. I remember going to the grand opening tour. All the coke I wanted to drink.
George Metropulos July 20, 2011 at 02:13 AM
Terri--I don't think anyone was questioning your "record." :)
Kathie McNulty July 20, 2011 at 02:29 AM
I remember the Starlite! Our dad used to take us there all the time because he was a deputy sheriff and we got in for free. Many of our summer days were spent at Belameda Pool (library site) where you could swim all day for 25 cents and on the walk home spend an extra 5 or 10 cents on penny candy at Dean's Variety. Evenings were for playing neighborhood games of "kick the can" until it got dark. Not sure whether I'm feeling nostalgic or old!
Jodi July 21, 2011 at 01:03 AM
I may not have been a resident of Belmont during those days but I can remember growing up in a neighborhood just like that. We ran the streets until mom called us in for dinner. Do you think days like that will ever return?
Sherri Garoutte July 22, 2011 at 12:49 AM
We moved to Belmont in 1974 so we just missed those things! But we grew up doing all the same things :-) But Terri, I thought we are "Belmonsters!"
Senta July 29, 2011 at 09:53 PM
i grew up here since 1971 and didn't know there was a drive-in! i do remember the coke bottling plant tho. i recognize a lot of you who responded, all from different places!! this local belmont patch thing is pretty awesome.
Steve Leyden October 18, 2012 at 01:05 PM
A cool thing about the Starlite Drive in was that it had "Dusk to Dawn" shows. You could watch movies from sundown until sunrise. Does anyone remember the 49-star flag raising ceremony at Nesbit School in 1959 when Alaska became a state? This ceremony was repeated in 1960 with a 50-star flag when Hawaii became a state. We were told at the time that Puerto Rico would soon become a state and we'd have a 51-star flag. It never happened. In the summer we played baseball all day long at the school, in parks, and in the street because Belmont didn't get Little League Baseball until around 1963. Kathie didn't mention above how humid it was inside Belameda pool on hot summer days. That place was like a steam room! You'd pay your quarter to get in and then store your towel and shoes in a locker. Each locker had a large stainless-steel clip (almost like an oversized saftey pin) which you'd clip to your swimming trunks so you'd remember the locker number where your stuff was stored.


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