Giant video discs, colourful VCRs and saloon doors were a long-ago part of the movie-watching experience. (VIFD file photo)

Giant video discs, colourful VCRs and saloon doors were a long-ago part of the movie-watching experience. (VIFD file photo)

Who doesn’t miss the great joy of late fees on returned movies?

Looming closure of video store sparks memories

News: My pal Robert Barron of the Cowichan Valley Citizen reports Pioneer’s Video and More is closing after more than a quarter-century in business.

Views: Thoughts of three things immediately popped into my head when I read Robert’s piece — giant video discs, multi-coloured VCRs and saloon doors.

Now, it’s been years since I rented a movie from a “video store” (which I’ll call them until the very last one disappears).

The convenience of sitting on your keister and finding whatever flick you like from the comfort of your couch has made even a short drive to the video store too difficult for most of us.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t wistfully look back at the fun things I’ll never get to do again.

The shop closing in Duncan, my stomping grounds growing up, definitely hit home.

It was in Duncan that I first discovered the joy of being able to watch a movie at home (any time you wanted!) or recording your favourite programs to watch later (any time you wanted!).

For some bizarre reason, the absolutely first thing I thought of in this case was the old RCA video discs.

Anyone remember those things?

Giant things the size of record albums. Rented them at Trio Home Furnishings, I believe. All the rage for a while.

I’ll also never forget our first video-cassette recorder. It was an old Fisher brand thing, and it cost like $1,500 back in the 1980s.

Knowing I could actually record ‘Battle of the Network Stars’ was surely a highlight of teenhood.

Even wilder than our machine was the multicoloured (oh, the inventiveness) JVC brand my friend had.

I later picked up a used one like that and kept it forever, watching old hockey fight videos and a trove of fuzzy Montreal Canadiens games from the 1970s that I ordered from the back of the Hockey News.

Good times.

But mostly, I thought of all the years I actually made the trip to rent movies, and the fun associated with each journey. There was a place in Duncan called McQuinn’s, where we rented most movies when I was a strapping young lad. Most intriguing in that place was the magical mystery land that lurked behind a pair of old-style swinging saloon doors.

Rumour has it, that was where the non-Disney movies were kept.

As a kid, you’d be with your parents (who needed to come for you to rent Friday the 13th), and some random dude would sneak in there and the squeaky doors were a dead giveaway. Everyone in the store would stop and stare.

A few years later as a then of-age adult man type guy, I thought “hey, I can enter the non-Disney zone now.”

Only, there was a very lovely young lady working the counter and cowardly me couldn’t build up the nerve to head through the saloon doors while she was watching.

And who doesn’t miss the rules of video rentals.

Be kind, rewind. Bring them back on time.

Was there anything more frustrating than phoning ahead to reserve a movie (these were the days before Blockbuster and their 1,576 copies of each title) and then some cretin didn’t bring it back?

Or how it felt like winning the lottery when you’d be at the counter asking about a particular movie and the person who had it brought it back at that very second?

Or the guilt you felt when you let your answering machine pick up a call and it was the video store employee chiding you for not returning your movie? And how mad at yourself you would be the next time you went in, when your late fees meant it cost you $42 to rent one movie.

I mean, we’re really missing out here.

I’ll just have to be content with the handful of movies buried a box somewhere in a crawl space I never bothered to return to now-defunct operations.

Score.

» Philip Wolf is the managing editor for www.vifreedaily.com Reach him at philip.wolf@blackress.ca or send your feedback to editor@vifreedaily.com

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