Tumbleweed Theatre

Five Points (El Monte), CA 91732

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 27, 2010 at 12:23 am

The Tumbleweed was a couple of doors west of the address which now belongs to El Pollo Loco in the Five Points Shopping Center, which is at 11928 Garvey Avenue, El Monte, CA. The theater was probably about 11918 Garvey, which is now part of the parking lot. I’m not sure if the Zip code is actually 91732, as El Monte has at least four Zips.

Also, this particular Five Points is just a small neighborhood around an intersection, and that isn’t its official place name. The only place in California officially called Five Points is in the northern part of the state.

kencmcintyre on March 26, 2010 at 11:05 pm

No real address for this one, I guess.

kencmcintyre on May 4, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Here is a January 1955 ad from the Covina Argus Citizen:

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 21, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Now why did Joe and I do it the hard way? That makes it unanimous. It’s from the 1950s.

BobHarlow on January 21, 2009 at 5:00 pm

It must be 1955 since they are showing “We’re No Angeles”

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 21, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Very observant Joe. You can also judge by the cars in the photo. Some of those cars are from the early 1950s (1952?).

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 21, 2009 at 4:46 pm

The sign giving the admission price as 30 cents dates this photo to the 1950s. Until the Federal tax on theater tickets was repealed (I can’t recall the exact year, but it was in the early-to-mid 1950s), the Tumbleweed’s sign said 25 cents. Tickets had actually cost 30 cents with the tax, and when it was repealed Edwards simply added the nickle to his admission prices.

kencmcintyre on October 3, 2007 at 7:48 am

Here is a July 1952 ad from the LA Times:

Here is a 1955 ad:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 3, 2007 at 6:10 am

My comment of October 20, 2005 above contains and error of fact. Architect Clifford Balch was not the father of William Glenn Balch, but his (considerably) older brother. This is not related to the Tumbleweed Theatre, but since I have no way of editing the older comment I wanted to point out the error so as to reduce the chances of it being perpetuated.

What does have to do with the Tumbleweed Theatre is the current classification of its style as “Oriental” at the top of this page. Oriental is no more accurate than was its earlier classification as “Atmospheric”.

The Tumbleweed had an American farm-style windmill out front!

Wagon wheels were featured as part of the decoration!

The walls were decorated with cartoons of such icons of the American west as an Indian on a pony, cacti, and a burro harnessed to a Mexican carreta! Not to mention the fact that the chandeliers repeated the wagon wheel motif!

While it is true that the plant after which this theatre was named is native to the steppes of Asia (and is also known as Russian thistle), there was nothing else about this theatre that was characteristic of the east, far or near. I still say that the style of the Tumbleweed could best have been described as Rustic.

kencmcintyre on August 27, 2007 at 7:52 pm

I see. Close to Fresno. Thanks.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 27, 2007 at 7:32 pm

Click on the Google map above. Erase (El Monte) and press the Search Maps button. Google maps will show a location for Five Points, CA.

kencmcintyre on August 27, 2007 at 7:27 pm

Any idea when Five Points became El Monte? The 1963 motion picture almanac lists the El Monte and Starlite drive-ins in El Monte, and the Five Points Drive-In in Five Points. Was there another town in CA named Five Points? I’m scratching my head.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 16, 2006 at 7:43 am

Here are multiple photo’s of the Tumbleweed Theater. Click each thumbnail to expand.

kencmcintyre on December 2, 2005 at 8:33 pm

It looks like an airplane hangar.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 14, 2005 at 2:56 am

Though the style of the Tumbleweed is designated above as “Atmospheric,” it was not a true atmospheric theatre. The ceiling did not depict a sky, but was a structure of open trusses and exposed rafters, as can be seen in this photo from the S.C. Lee collection at UCLA. The style of the theatre, both inside and out, could be more accurately described as Rustic.

kencmcintyre on October 20, 2005 at 1:52 pm

My mistake. Apologies.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 20, 2005 at 2:32 am

ken mc: What you have there is an aerial view of the El Monte Drive-In on Lower Azusa Road. The Cinema Treasures entry on the El Monte Drive-In mistakenly attributes the design to William Glenn Balch. W.G. Balch and his father, Clifford Balch did design the Starlite Drive-In in South El Monte, but both the Tumbleweed and the El Monte Drive-In were designed by S. Charles Lee.

KenRoe on October 19, 2005 at 10:57 pm

Great photo Ken mc, but the Tumbleweed Theatre was not a Drive-In.

CHILAOGAL on October 11, 2004 at 5:32 pm

I also remember the theater. My dad and his twin brother both worked as ushers there. Some nights they would leave the back door unlocked and their friends would come in and all of them would spend the night sleeping on the floor. Including my mom who wasn’t my mom until later. I remember going to it as a small kid. I have a great picture of it if anyone is interested.

dongumaer on October 10, 2004 at 6:58 pm

Several years ago, Mr. James Edwards told me the story behind the Tumbleweed Theater. It was the first theater he ever had built. When he approached a contractor to build him a theater with $2000, the contractor told him that for $2000 he could only build him a barn. Mr. Edwards had the barn built, added a screen, seats and projectors and made it into a theater. How’s that for ingenuity?

JamesHoback on October 14, 2003 at 11:03 am

What happened to the beautiful photo that used to be on this site?

JamesHoback on January 8, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Theater had a “crying booth” which I had to set in with my mother one time to see Bambi because no other seats were available. There was a train ride next to the theater. Does anyone have information on this train ride, or perhaps a photo?