The support for revitalizing the downtown and river districts in Fort Wayne has finally overflowed to Quimby Village. Some of my greatest childhood memories are filled with adventures there. My first movie experience took place in the Clyde Theater. Dad took the whole family to see “How The West Was Won” in 1962, starring John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Debbie Reynolds and Henry Fonda. Seeing that amazing theater empty for so many years breaks my heart. But now hope is returning to the Village and it begins with the Clyde.
Even Keel Productions has been working on a plan to turn the theater into a 2,200-seat multifunctional performing arts center. And just like in the movie, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” With the theater as a cornerstone, many other businesses could move in to give life to the entertainment capitol of Waynedale. Along with the theater, plans are also in the works to bring recording studios and an art gallery. Retail and office space will also be available and hopes for new restaurants and other entertainment related businesses. The theater project hopes to be completed by the summer of 2016, but no target date has been given.
Any hope for the Village is encouraging to me. The Clyde Theater and Village Bowl were so conveniently located, so close together. I remember in high school, after a break-up with my girlfriend, I went to the theater all-alone. I don’t remember what movie I saw, since I was angry and sad at the same time. A friend of mine was an usher at the Clyde and he saw me sitting all alone. After the movie was over, he came over to me and suggested we go bowling to get my mind off of my troubles. We walked over to the nearby Village Bowl. He had the right idea, as I took my frustration out on those helpless bowling pins, a smile started coming to my face. I was not a very good bowler, but that night I bowled a 231, the highest in my whole life.
I may not be able to remember the name of the movie, or for that matter, the name of my ex-girlfriend but, I will never forget the beautiful theater, the bowling alley (where I bowled that incredible 231) and especially my friend Mike Mauer, who later became a priest at St. Therese Catholic Church. That is what Quimby Village was all about. It was a place where friends could meet and be entertained, or consoled. I look forward to the return of a special place where memories will be made. And especially to a project that will restore beauty to a part of Waynedale that has been overlooked for years.