Oasis Theatre

63-57 Fresh Pond Road,
Ridgewood, NY 11385

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Showing 176 - 186 of 186 comments

Bway
Bway on June 15, 2004 at 9:03 am

Thanks. The 1947 one is most likely the style of the one I remember before being modified for the Oasis Roller World’s new marquee style.
The way I remember it as a theater marquee back in the 70’s was very “50’s” looking, with moving lights, etc, so it is probably the 1947 one. “Oasis” was in skinny letters and either orange or brown.

jflundy
jflundy on June 14, 2004 at 5:48 pm

The original marquee was modified at least once in the 1930’s and a new style one replaced the modified original in the 1940’s, most likely about 1947.

Bway
Bway on June 14, 2004 at 4:19 am

For those interested, the “Our Neigborhood” of the “Times Newsweekly” had a photo of the Oasis one week. It shows the Marquee of the Oasis when it first opened. At some point the lettering and neon letters were changed, as this is not the same sign I remember from the 70’s before the theater closed to movies.
Here’s the link:
View link

Bway
Bway on June 13, 2004 at 5:15 pm

Oh this is great! You just reminded me of another thing. Those little round skate rental chips with the Oasis logo on it! It’s all coming back now from my teenage years! I vaguely remember what the logo looked like. If I remember correctly, it had a huge “O” with a desert “Oasis” scene in it, and then “asis” next to it much smaller. I think the chips just had the “O” on it, but can’t quite remember. I can’t even count how many of those I must have touched those over the years when it was a skating rink!
I remember the old marquee so well. Actually, it almost looked nicer with the “Oasis Roller World” sign on it than the original movie theater marquee looked. I can still see the big “O” with the scene in the middle. When the theater first closed from movies, but before becoming the roller rink, they did very briefly did things like local band concerts, etc in there. I remember them using the old marquee, and the movie letters you mention for those events.
As for Pinochio and Cinderella, I saw many Disney movies there. For some reason my mother always preferred to take me to that theater over the others (maybe because that’s the one that always had them). I don’t have any of the stubs, but did see Cinderella there too (Hmmm, maybe you were there the same day…) Anyway, Pinochio I saw at the Ridgewood Theater, but remember seeing Snow White, Bambi, and Alice in Wonderland (and possibly others) at the Oasis.
As for your first time getting drunk, I guess The Oasis was a good a place as any! My first time certainly wasn’t there, but remember thinking “never again” when that “spinning feeling” came, of course that didn’t teach me a lesson…it became the first of many.
Ridgewood Grove…I went by there just a few weeks ago, when I was in “the old neighborhood”, and it’s a huge and fancy Chinese Buffet now! I couldn’t believe it. I wonder what relics they dug up there when they ripped the interior of that building apart. I think it’s last usage (some 20 years of being vacant though) was a “Royal Farms” supermarket.
Thanks again for the great memories of one of my favorite theaters (always was)…and if you find those photos……

mpfaeffle
mpfaeffle on June 13, 2004 at 9:58 am

Hi Bway! – to answer some of your questions, the pyramids didn’t rotate…just the lighting beneath and above. They housed the large EV speakers until we decided to mount them on the wall. There were sirens at the base of each corner of each pyramid and big rotating “hollywood” style lights in the top of the middle “monolith” between both pyramids. Regarding CVS, I had the opportunity to view the construcion of it – I gave them a sob story of how sad I was to see the old building chopped apart and they gladly let me in behind the temporary wood surround. The old dome was sadly demolished as it was a safety hazard – much of the steel above it was tired and the plaster work must have weighed tons. I remember the catwalks already swinging and squeaking while I walked across them back in early 80’s. I actually JUST sold the large 36" diameter disco ball that hung through the middle of it. The seating I’m sure is still under there – the slab was still intact while the construction was going on. The old basement (aka. the old skateroom) is still there – there was a small apt. setup down there alongside it by the Martinelli’s w/ a bathroom and office – on the latenights it was handy to catch some sleep before the next day’s early “kiddy” session. To get back to the seating, we found it while exploring the tunnels. At stage-left, beneath the DJ booth, there was a trap door in the floor with a stairwell that went down to a big cavernous room. In the room was another short flight of stairs that led to a small trap door – going through the door it opened back up to a HALLWAY! And that led to another room which was approximately right under the screen. In that room was a bricked up doorway. Curiousity got the best of me one night so a few of us went down with a coleman lantern and a sledge hammer. When we broke threw, sand spilled out all over – I know what it was like now to discover a tomb in ancient Egypt! We didn’t even have to go too far to find the first row of seating. I realize now that it would have been magnificent to swipe a few of them. Beyond that room the hallway continued, turned to the right, and then shrunk down to what I think was a utility tunnel with old steam lines. Following that tunnel brought us back to the power room adjoing the old skate rental room under the main lobby – we had sooo much fun! In the tunnel we even found boxes of extra Marqee letters – again I regret not taking every last one of them. I’ll look for those photos tonight – I know I have interior and exterior..and certainly some have me up in the DJ booth and my friends down on the floor.
Also, there were actually 2 fires. One was an electrical problem in the “booking office” – one of the small storefronts – that damaged the office and the new skateroom. Then the second fire came after closing… caused by the sign manufacturing store on the far corner of the block. That took out most of the storefronts and heavily damaged the interior wall of the rink.
I just walked over to my “cabinet of memories” and I found several old Oasis movie theater tickets for Pinochio and Cinderella, a stack of the round plastic chips used for skate rental with the Oasis logo, and the wood pipe organ tube I found during one of my wandering through the ceiling.
And a quick funny story – It was the first place I got drunk. We had closed one night for a special political party and we had a temporary liquor license. Although I was underage, I was the only one that could work that night that knew how run all the lighting so Mr. Midha let me work. Afterward, during cleanup, I “tasted” one of the drinks and actually liked it! So I drank some more, and then more, and then it hit my little 13 year old body. I recall stumbling home and vomiting in some poor womans tomato garden on 60th place. That was the night my dad taught me the trick of keeping one foot on the floor (hanging over the bed) to help minimize “the spins”! Hahahaha… I’ll never forget that.

Now if only I could afford the old Rigewood Grove Arena….. :–)

Bway
Bway on June 13, 2004 at 8:37 am

Michael, thanks so much for all the accounts! Most of my memories, were just that, memories from when I went skating there. That is so interesting that that all they did to ‘straighten the floor was to poor sand in the slope, and put the new floor in over that. PLEASE post some photos. I would absolutely love to see them. I also have such great memories of that building both as a theater, and as a skating rink as a teenager. Thanks for the clarification on there being only two pyramids, also i was just going by memory. Did the pyramids rotate? You mentioned something about a rotating area. Also, were the pyramids hollow? How did you see the old seating area underneath? I was never there after the pyramids were removed.
Yeah, the balcony already seemed pretty dirty when I used to skate there. I was never up there, but you could see it was a pretty dirty place with years of dust up there.
I too am sad when passing there knowing that the Oasis is now gone. I, like Warren, wonder what’s still above the ceiling of the CVS. You may not know either as you seem to be from the roller rink era, not after, but hopefully you know. It was very “intact” while the roller rink was there. I’m sure not all that much as there was a fire before the CVS bought it. Who knows, maybe the seating is still under CVS!

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on June 13, 2004 at 4:27 am

Michael, is there anything left of the auditorium above the false ceiling in the CVS store, or was the interior entirely gutted?

mpfaeffle
mpfaeffle on June 12, 2004 at 6:36 pm

It is in fact still Ridgewood… I live just 2 blocks away. I remember all the disney movies as well. But right after the theatre closed, I was happily employed by both the Martinelli’s and it’s later owner, Mr. Midha – from the age of 13 to 21 I think. I started as a skate guard, graduated to DJ (And yes, it WAS LOUD!), and finally wound up managing on the weekends. It was fascinating to roam around “behind the scenes”. There were numerous underground tunnels, rooms, shaftways, and even an old locked safe on the second floor! In my years there, we found the frame and some pipes behind the old screen for what was the old pipe organ, the infamous safe that we tried to get into a number of times, the old projection equipment, the unexplained tunnels that ran from end to end of the building, and catwalks up in the ceiling (which I used to change the lamps in the “dome”). I still have a lot of the lighting equipment and even the big ElectroVoice speakers sitting in my basement from when it closed down – I’m sure my neighbors appreciate them! I still even have my Reidel “Gold Star” skates w/ GM2 plates and the AllAmerican wheels – which was the typical dance skate of the day. And just for sake of record, there were only 2 pyramids with a box'ish column between them that had 2 large rotating spots in it (invisible from normal eye level). Under the pyramids, the seating was still there! Buried in sand. The entire space was buried in sand, with a thin slab poured on top, and then the maple flooring over it. The pyramids were removed when Subash Midha bought the business and we wrapped the center area with a railing – the interior of which hosted a lot of breakdance contests! Anyone remember the “Harman Breakers”?! The employees used to watch from either the DJ booth or up in the balcony – but the balcony was filthy and we had to drape sheets over the seats just to sit down.
I have hundreds of great memories from that place which was almost a second home to me while I was growing up – both owners (though sometimes a bit odd) were always kind and warm to those who worked for them. It’s really a shame the neighborhood doesn’t still have a gathering place like that for younger people. It’s almost sad to drive past and see it as a CVS now. If anyone has any questions about the actual structure, feel free to contact me – I knew it intimately as I did most of the electrical, hvac, and general maintenance myself. I’ll post a few photos when I get a chance.

RobertR
RobertR on April 15, 2004 at 8:20 am

Bway your comments about the roller rink brought it all back for me. I remember skating there and thinking that really except for the floor being leveled that the theatre had not changed at all. They even used the marquee. I grew up going to this theatre, and it was ironic because UA had done some renovations shortly before closing it in 1976. I also remember them booking some bands into the place right after the movies stopped, but I think there were problems with unruly crowds. During the time it was closed I know of two people who inquired about buying the property and opening cinemas in the space, but the owner wanted a fortune, and theres really no parking except on the street. Glendale will be getting new cinemas soon when a small multi-plex opens at Atlas terminals which is being converted to a small mall.

Bway
Bway on April 15, 2004 at 8:02 am

Just to add to Warren’s great description. As far as I know the Oasis does in fact sit in Ridgewood, not Glendale, and it always had been Ridgewood.
I remember the Oasis well as a child visiting there. Most of the movies I had seen there were Disney movies with my mother. After closing to movies in the 70’s for a very short time before becoming a roller rink, they had sort or local bands or something playing there. That didn’t last long.
I remember the roller rink well, as I went there many times as a teenager. All the seats on the main level were removed and three pyranmids put in the middle (where you scated around, or you could sit to take a break). They put dancing neon Eqyptians in the former screen area, and the Proscenium survived intact. The concession stand area was in the same spot from when it was a theater.
All the chandeliers survived the conversion, as did the glass stained fixtures along the walls. The fancy fixtures on the ceiling under the balcony were still used and remained lit, although dimmed while the roller sessions were going on. The chandeliers and glass stained fixtures usually remained off during the roller skating sessions, although occasionally blinked on and off with some songs, and they usually lit them during the final song of the sessions, which was usually “New York, New York”. The music was always extremely loud in the Oasis Roller Rink.
The balcony, although totally unused in the Oasis Roller Rink days was entirely intact during it’s life as a roller rink. You could see the seats up above while skating.
The Oasis did sit empty for many years after the Oasis Roller World closed. The Oasis also burned during that time. The lobby area and the stores that use to face Fresh Pond Road were all demolished after the fire. The main auditorium remains as CVS. I don’t know what ornamentation still survived after the fire, or conversion to a CVS above the CVS ceiling. It’s unfortunate, because all the ornamentation and fancy lighting fixtures were still intact from it’s conversion from theater to roller rink.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on January 23, 2004 at 6:05 am

Perhaps today the neighborhood is considered Glendale, but when the Oasis Theatre first opened in September 1927, the area was part of Ridgewood. Sol Brill, a onetime business associate of William Fox, built the Oasis, which was designed by Thomas Lamb in a subdued Egyptian style. The stage opening and surrounding area were draped to suggest a tent that might be found in a desert oasis. Most of its original 1,800 seats were on the ground floor, but the Oasis had a small balcony with a loge section at the front. The stage was too shallow for vaudeville, and the Oasis showed only movies, but employed a pit orchestra with 15 musicians plus an organist until 1929, when the theatre converted to “talkies.” For its first few years, the Oasis showed a feature movie, supported by shorts and newsreels, with program changes every three days, and then switched to double features. The movies were always second-run for Ridgewood because the Fox (later Randforce) Ridgewood and RKO Madison, both located in the heart of the shopping district, were the area’s leaders. The Oasis, on the upper part of Fresh Pond Road, was a very long walk from there and in a more residential area. Sol Brill eventually sold the Oasis to the Randforce circuit, so it landed under the same management as the Ridgewood for the rest of its life as a movie house…Several years ago, after standing empty since its closing as a roller rink, the Oasis was semi-demolished for conversion to a CVS store. Only the basic structure was kept; everything else is new.