By Kristi Casey Sanders
The Fox Theatre is one of Atlanta’s great treasures. In addition to its magnificent architecture and décor, the Fox houses collective memories of weddings, first dates, high school proms, rock concerts and theatrical extravaganzas that are a part of the city’s social fabric. Here are some native Atlantans’ favorite memories, in their own words.
“My first date was at the Fox … When I returned home later, I thought it was the most glorious time ever.”
Elizabeth Clamp Rowan was a babe in arms when her mom caught the Grant Park trolley and brought her to The Fox Theatre’s Grand Opening Celebration in 1929. She grew up in the Boulevard/Ponce de Leon area.
“My first date was at the Fox. I was ‘Sweet 16’ and it was in the 1940s, wartime. I guess my young date didn’t have a driver’s license, so we walked up to Ponce de Leon to catch a trolley. On impulse, I imagine, he hailed a cab. I just knew at that moment I must be a real princess.
“[They were showing] a Bing Crosby musical. One of the songs in the movie was ‘Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.’ (Oh, by the way, my date’s name was Ricky.)
“After the movie, we walked across the street and went bowling. When I arrived home later, I thought it was just the most glorious time ever.
“I was married 53 years and my husband and I attended many performances, dances and birthday parties through the years at the Fox. I am blessed to have so many memories to look back on.”
“It was like a castle … it was great for kids with all your fantasies.”
Bob and Brenda Sanders met and began dating when they were working at the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills, now the Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts, in Cabbagetown. Brenda’s father was a drummer in one of the dance bands that played the Fox ballrooms in the 1930s. As a young married couple in the 1960s, when they lived in the West End, they often brought their children Bobby and Pam to see movies at the Fox and sing along with the Mighty Mo organ.
Brenda: “[Growing up] we didn’t go that often because we had to walk mostly where we went, and we lived off of Techwood — in that area where the Olympic Park is now. We usually went to the Rialto, or to the Paramount and Loews. But the Fox was different. Everything about the Fox was grandeur. It was like a castle … it was great for kids with all your fantasies.
“[In] the late 1940s, you would see the people going up in their fancy formal attire. I went up one time. I pretended to be lost, just to see. We would always sit in the balcony because it was close to the clouds and the stars.
“One time, the son of one of the [Fulton Bag] owners took me out on a date, and we went to a party at the Fox. His friends were all artists; I remember thinking they were just weird.”
Bob: “When I went the first time, I was just amazed at the stars in the sky. You looked up and it was like you were outdoors, and that just amazed me.
“For many years, back in the 1950s, that was the place to go for the New Year’s Eve parties. There weren’t any other places around town that could accommodate a lot of people, so that was the place to go, the nicest.
“You know how places now advertise: You pay this, and you’ll get a free bottle of champagne and a hat? That’s what it was like. You had people from all over Atlanta there. It was open to the public, and they always had a big band. Each couple would get a bottle of champagne; they had them all on a table when you came in. It was just a fun place to go, and it was the nicest place.”
Do you have a special memory of The Fox Theatre you’d like to share? E-mail Kristi@EncoreAtlanta.com and tell us your story.