The Readers Write: 'Star Wars' memories

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Lucasfilms Ltd.
Sir Alec Guiness as Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars."

May 25, 2007, will be the 30th anniversary of George Lucas' "Star Wars," the epic space movie that enriched popular culture with phrases like "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away," majestic music, Luke Skywalker, light sabers, Princess Leia hair buns, Han Solo, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Force, talking robots and Jedi mind tricks.

In honor of the movie milestone, readers are invited to share your memories of "Star Wars" -- where you were when you first saw it and what it meant to you then ... and now.

Readers' memories

The thing I remember was my dad taking me to see "Return of the Jedi." It came out between first and second grade for me. I remember I went to see the "planes" and to see the Ewoks. How cute, huh? I remember watching that movie in this small little theater and just loving it. When it was over I was so excited, I had to get the merchandise. The toys, the bed sheets, the clothes, etc. ... My dad told me that there were two movies before this one and that we would watch them sometime, and then I was hooked.

Here it is 30 years later and I am still hooked on "Star Wars." I have twin sons that were just born, and I can't wait until they are old enough to watch the movies with me so I can see their enjoyment in the saga. And of course, buy the fun toys for them to play with and for me to play with, with them.

Stuart Cunningham
Gaithersburg, MD (formerly of Wheeling, W.Va.)

I was 18 when the original "Star Wars" was released. My then-girlfriend and I saw it at the old Eastland Theater in North Versailles. It was far, far removed from any other movie of its era, a deep reach into a science fiction genre done as never before. The special effects alone made it a cinematic landmark. I loved it.

My girlfriend wasn't impressed. She hated "Star Wars" and said it would bomb at the box office. But what could you expect from a gal who listened to Bread?

Dan Skantar
(Formerly of East Pittsburgh)

We were in graduate school at Clemson University. We named our German Shepherd Darth Vader.

Linda Young
Greenville, SC

I was a freshman in college at Point Park College (now Point Park University). A whole group of us walked from the dorms on Wood Street up a few blocks to the new Bank Building complex that had just opened. Mostly shops and few restaurants, but the top floor had a multiplex showing "Star Wars" on every screen. They had signs on the box office window telling you which showings were sold out. They pretty much started a new showing almost every hour on the hour. So we went over to Market Square to kill time and returned 45 minutes later to find the next showing was also sold out. Most of the group were ready to give up, but I suggested we wait a little bit. We saw dozens of people walk in and leave upset because there were no tickets. No one was lining up at the box office either, because you weren't allowed. The Bank Building management would send security to make you leave the area as soon as they put those signs up (well, they always made the college students leave anyway). So we wandered around the other shops on that floor keeping an eye on the box office. We saw hundreds of people show up and read those signs with disappointment. They would either leave or security would advise them to leave (and most did). At 10 minutes after the hour they took the sign off the box office window and started selling tickets for the next showing. We immediately jumped and ran for the window. Word quickly spread and before you knew it the signs were back up saying the next showing was sold out. You have to remember, 'back in the day' they didn't pre-sell tickets for later showings. They only sold tickets for the next showing that was going to start. So my memory of "Star Wars" was as a spy/stalker waiting to pounce on a box office window the moment it was open (and dodging the watchful gaze of Bank Building security).

Alan Fisher
Hartsville, TN

We met on the opening weekend of "Star Wars" in May 1977. Seeing Star Wars was our first movie date! We are still together 30 years later. Happily married with two beautiful children and a lot to be grateful for. It's been a mystical adventure.

Bill & Amy Barlock
Penn Hills

I was 6 years old when I was taken to see "Star Wars." It was the first "grown up" movie my parents took me to see. We went to an evening show Downtown. Unfortunately we were running late, and my father ran a red light coming out of the West End. One of Pittsburgh's finest pulled us over and proceeded to write out a ticket. Despite my announcing to the officer (at the top of my lungs) that we were going to miss the movie, we still got the ticket. I think the officer went slower as a result of my pleas. I ended up missing the first five minutes of the movie and didn't see the opening scenes until we got a VCR. Special effects may have gotten better, but 30 years later "Star Wars" remains one of my favorite movies. To this day, when I see the opening titles and hear the music, I think back to that evening in a dark theater with my parents, and I'm a kid again.

J. R. Simpson
Charleston, South Carolina
(formerly of North Fayette Township)

I was 27 and was going through a rough time in my life. I asked a cute blond gal I knew from high school out on a movie date, and we saw "Star Wars."

Starting from the very beginning with those huge titles and story script in forced perspective on the dark blue "deep space" background to the end of the movie I was mesmerized. I never experienced such 3-D realism in a movie before. The story was gripping; the music was perfect. I almost forgot I had a date with me, I was so engrossed. As we left the theater and walked to my car, I was silent, almost in shock. My little blond date speaks .... "I sort-a liked it; what did you think?" Well, I couldn't believe any sentient being could be so blase after witnessing such a dynamic, ground-breaking, inspiring film. I had no idea how to reply to her, since she obviously wasn't a sentient being. I never called her again.

Joe Renckly
Deutschtown (North Side)

I distinctly remember seeing the first TV ad for the film.

I was 7 years old, the perfect age for "Star-Wars" mania, and I was rapt immediately. After 30 years my memory may have bent the details a bit, but I remember playing near the TV when I saw the commercial. For several moments there was a quiet shot of outer space -- stars and such. I was 7, space was cool, my attention was hooked. And then two words filled the screen. "Star Wars."

That's all I needed. I would have crossed no-man's land for that film.

Several months later, on my eighth birthday, my brother Tom took me. It was everything I had expected. And honestly, how often does that happen?

Mark Franks

I'll always remember the first time that I saw "Star Wars" because I just graduated from High School and it was like a new world was opening up for me. What really makes the movie special for me was the second time that I saw it in the movies ... almost 20 years later. I was on a first date with a guy who never saw it! Well, we wound up at a movie theater and caught the last showing. It was during the previews of the second and third movie that I covered up his eyes so he wouldn't know what was going to happen ... and next thing you know ... it was our first kiss!

Thanks "Star Wars"!

Donna Kravitz
Brick, NJ

In retrospect, if I couldn't marry Han Solo, "Star Wars" at least gave me a more than adequate substitute.

Home for the summer after my first year in college, I became a volunteer at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Days in the old Children's Zoo were fun, the animals were cuddly and visitors not too bothersome. Then, one day in June, I looked across a crowded goat pen, and there he was. Most people would have seen a summer employee, maybe a future zookeeper. I saw my future. It was love at first sight. I schemed and planned and FINALLY, Greg asked me out on July 5th 1977. We saw this cool movie we had heard about, "STAR WARS." We decided to see it again. And again. And again. Four times that summer.

At our wedding in May of 1981, the highly respected organist of our very traditional Episcopal church segued from Handel into the "Star Wars" theme just as I was about to walk down the aisle. Those in the pews who knew us well laughed and cheered. From that first date in '77 until my husband's death in 2005, each movie of the series became part of our family tradition. From the quotes ("I don't think he likes you very much") to the concepts (Evil must be fought even when you fight against all odds), "Star Wars" added color to the rich texture of our marriage. Thank you, George!

Laurel Roberts

In 1977 I was 21 years old and a fresh college graduate when I went to see "Star Wars" at the Showcase Cinemas in Monroeville, which was a "galaxy far, far away" since I lived Castle Shannon! The showing was sold out, so I sat on the floor in the aisle ... fire safety regulations must have been less strict in 1977. I can still remember "Star Wars" scrolling across the screen to John Williams' score ... remember the big movie screens?

In 1989 my son, Michael, was born. As a toddler, while playing with some "Star Wars" action figures at a neighbor's, a new fan was born ... as was the need for my wife and me to provide him with the "Star Wars" figures, vehicles, weapons, lunchboxes, backpacks, sheets, posters, coloring books, VHS tapes, etc. ...

Over the past 17 years I waited in lines (at odd hours of the day) at Toy-R-Us and Kay-Bee Toys to hunt for 'rare' "Star Wars" action figures, often attacking stock boys as they brought the new shipments to the display. I waited in lines (usually the oldest one) in order to buy tickets so Michael (and I) could see the 'first' showing of the latest "Star Wars" release (always at hours of the day past my bedtime).

I have seen all the "Star Wars" movies, and I'm sure I will watch them all again. I just hope Michael doesn't want to start the movie at 12:01 a.m. ... after all, I'm 30 years older, and I need my rest!

Jim Jarrett
Peters Township

This movie meant so much to me when I was a 12-year-old boy. My friend and I would go to the Showcase Cinema in Monroeville on Saturdays for the noon show and stay until his mom picked us up after the 8:00 p.m. show ended. You could do that in those days. There were no cell phones and text messages for us at that age. Only light sabers, blasters and the Millenium Falcon.

I now watch the original trilogy with my 4-year-old, and he loves it just as much as I did.

Dave Kapcin
North Braddock

My Star Wars Memories start way before actually seeing the movie. I remember the cards, and the buzz when I was in 3rd grade in 1977, and I was totally obsessed. My buddy Matt and I would make up Star Wars stories, spend every night together trading and looking at cards, etc. but Mom said I was too little to see a movie rated PG because I had been terrified by pictures of Jaws (I was 7.) The teachers wouldn't let us trade the cards, in school, Mom wouldn't let me see the movie, and my new little brother was crying all the time ... Hey, life was rough when you're seven!

So I guess that's why my Star Wars memories are all about my Father, and a trip to the Bank. It had to have been in the early fall, well after most other "big people" had seen the movie, because we had come down with our annual Bronchitis infection, and I know Dad was feeling really sick -- I don't remember the date, but I remember it was on a Sunday, and Dad asked me if I wanted to go to the Bank with him, even though he was sick. Now, back in those days, there were no ATMs, so a trip to the bank usually meant a lollipop every week. 7 year olds are all about the lollipops, but there was something wrong here ... Now, I didn't know much, but I knew the Banks weren't open on Sunday. Dad said this one was and insisted I go with him. Needless to say, I had better things to do -- pour over my Star Wars cards, play with my friends who had also not seen the movie because they were too little, etc. But when Dad insists, well when you're 7 you get in the car. So we got in the car, and we took a drive Dahntahn, where I didn't know they had banks. Dad told me he had worked at this one when he was young, so he had special privileges.

Now, if you're old enough to remember Dahntahn back then, you know my Dad set me up for this as a surprise -- Probably the biggest surprise he could give me at that time. This particular Bank was the Bank Cinema in the Bank Center, which used to be an old Bank ... And when the lights went down, Dad told me they were showing Star Wars .... I didn't move for the next two hours ... I don't think I've stopped talking or thinking about that movie for the last 30 years. It's shaped my career, but the lengths my Dad went to shaped the way I think about how families should be with each other.

I don't know if Dad remembers the day like I do, but I think there's a reason I love Star Wars above all other movies -- it reminds me of the first time I can remember my father doing something special for me. If I have children someday, I hope I can do something like this for them too.

William E. Madden Jr.

I can't believe it has been 30 years, it doesn't seem that long ago, then again I was only 6 years old when Star Wars debuted. My father, Tom Borne, and I walked to the Mount Oliver Theater for the 7:00 p.m. show. When we got to the theater the line was very long, so long that the 7:00 p.m. show sold out and the line didn't seem to move. We waited for what seemed like forever for the second show, especially for a 6-year-old. We finally found our seats and wound up sitting in the first row center. As the words "In a galaxy far, far away" came across the screen, we were so close that we had to look up to see the screen. Our heads were going back and forth just to see all of the words, and then the first ship appeared right over our heads and it made you feel like we were in space.

It was unlike we had ever experienced while watching a movie.

As we walked home that night all we could do was talk about the movie and how good it was. I felt special that night, I got to experience one of the greatest movies ever made with my Dad. We still tell this story to anyone who will listen and it sounds like we just saw the movie for the first time, 30 years later.

Katrina Burkhard

Dreams really can come true. I saw the first Star Wars movie when it had first come out on video 3 decades ago, and I was hooked from seeing the words "Star Wars" splashed on the screen upon hearing the awesome score of John Williams. I have been one of the biggest fans of the whole series since, collecting various toys, posters, games, etc.

My parents were both musicians and I followed in their footsteps only to relalize that my calling was composing. Right out of high school I began a career as a composer for video games.

After 13 years in my career, I got the call to join a company as an Audio Director whos first contract was to work on a "Star Wars" game for Lucasarts. I had always wished to be a part of "Star Wars" in some way, and I finally got my golden ticket. I got to work with all the main sound effects and scores from the films, not to mention being able to add my own new music and effects to the legacy. I got to visit Lucasarts, Skywalker Ranch, and ILM and those are experiences I will never forget, the best of all having my name forever associated with an official "Star Wars" product.

Did I mention that the first film hit theaters on my birthday? It was my destiny.

Frank Klepacki
Las Vegas

David Prowse as Darth Vader confronts Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia during the opening moments of "Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope."
Click photo for larger image.
Related coverage:

Star Wars: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

Han Solo tattoo
Click photo for larger image.

Although "Star Wars" was already well known by the time I saw it (I was 4 and it was 1986) I remember falling in love with the Jedi Order (and Princess Leia).

After the movie came out my older cousin and I would play with his plethora of "Star Wars" action figures and stage the ultimate fight of 2 Jedi knights taking on 500 bloodthirsty green plastic army men.

Now more then 20 years later I have a Han Solo tribute tattoo, a Pomeranian named Lando Calrissian, and several hundred "Star Wars" comics, books, and novels. For those that never gave "Star Wars" a chance because it doesn't have crazy car crashes or high school dance teams I say shame on you... This is the number one movie franchise of all time.

And remember people, Han shot first...

Phil Laboon

The first movie I ever remember seeing was Star Wars. My parents took my sister and I to the drive-in that used to exist in Bethel Park (now there is a Taco Bell and a day care center there). It was spectacular seeing the movie on that gigantic screen!

When I was a kid it was just a cool thing to see (I was about four years old), but watching it as a quasi-adult I see good philosophies about life and existence in the original trilogy ... like don't be bad or you'll be turned into a huge, tough-looking dude with a black mask that can strangle people with his mind!

Of course that really isn't a bad thing in retrospect ...

Mary Lynn Baronett
Bethel Park

I was never a big fan of Star Wars, but only because I had never seen them.

My friend Shawn, who is obsessed, always thought I was crazy. They started to look more interesting to me, and last year, I finally saw all 6 of them. Now, I'm obsessed too, seeing each movie almost ten times in less than a year, and Star Tours is my new favorite ride at Disney World. I really didn't know what I was missing all those years.

Dan Williamson

I was 5 years old and in kindergarten at Fulton School in Highland Park when my Dad took me out of school one day to see a matinee of Star Wars at the Showcase Cinema East (Monroeville).

My dad gave me my first two Star Wars action figures that day before the movie-- R2D2 and a stormtrooper. Those two started what would become a large collection of Star Wars figures and toys. That day holds a lot of magic in my heart.

For much of my childhood me and my best friend, Dan Crow, spent endless hours enjoying our Star Wars toys and living in deep anticipation for the next installment of the Star Wars trilogy.

The opening scene of Star Wars is so absolutely memorable with the Imperial star ship flying over the top of the screen in hot pursuit of the rebel ship with Princess Leah on board.

Thank you Dad!

Tom Link
South Side Slopes

My first memory of seeing a movie involved Star Wars. If it opened 30 years ago, that would have made me a little over two years old. I remember not really being interested in the movie, and playing in the seats of the theater. However, I vividly remember that my attention was caught by the scene where Princess Leia is picked up and swooped across the broken walkway. I thought that was really neat for some reason.

It took a few more years for me to be old enough to really appreciate the whole movie, but boy, I can still remember when I first saw that scene!

Jennifer M. Irvin

Star Wars has and always will have a part in my life. I was around the age of six or seven the first time I watched it and I remember just rewinding it and watching it over and over. I still have most of my toys from when I was younger and have added quite a few more over the years. I am very lucky to have an awesome wife who is a star dork as well. We both can't get enough of the movies, books, and artwork. As active members of the Star Wars Association of Pittsburgh we are constantly going on trips and doing charity events together. We have only been members for a little over a year but in the past year I have had a lot of fun and I look forward to the future of this group. Thank you George Lucas and may the Force be with you all.

Jason Trader

A few years back, I was heading out to Chicago from Detroit with my wife, my brother and a friend. Along the way, we were stopped by a state trooper on highway I-94. I was moving at 78mph in a 70mph zone.

After giving me the speech (which was quite heated) he asked me to give him one good reason that he had never heard before to let me go. The first thing I could think of was that I didn't have any points on my record. After stating this, he got even more upset and said "You think I've never heard that one before? I said, give me a reason that I've never heard before!"

Imediately, I thought of old Ben Kenobi trying to get by the imperial storm troopers at Mos Eisley. So I replied, "You ever seen 'Star Wars'?" He nodded. I then waved my hand in front of his face and repeated Ben's words, "You don't need to see my identification. These aren't the droids you're looking for. I can go about my business. Move along." The officer just stood there, stunned. After a moment he admitted, "I've never heard anyone say that before..."

After taking my licence and registration back to his car, he returned quickly and handed them back to me -- without a ticket! He said, "Droids, huh?". I replied, "Yep," and I was on my way -- the Force had worked!!! I had taken my first step into a larger world.

As crazy as this sounds, the story is true. Guess you never know when being a huge "Star Wars" fan comes in handy.

Harin Wickremasinghe
Dearborn Heights, Mich.

The "Star Wars" crew had a presence at the World Science Fiction Convention in KC in 1976 when no one knew anything about where the movie would go. They were just trying to get the movie within the radar of people who were good candidates to see it when released the next year.

I was a young engineer between jobs and took the opportunity to attend the convention. (Robert Heinlein, a favorite, was author Guest of Honor). I went to the "Star Wars" display room, and a little-known actor, Mark Hamill, was sitting to cover the room. I had a really good one-on-one half-hour conversation about the film and its history and realized this was a really regular guy. Got a really nice note from him in the convention program book. It wasn't really until I saw the film the next year that I realized how big and different this thing was ... and subsequently saw it five more times.

Bruce Quayle
West View

My wife and I got married in June 1977 and went to NYC on our honeymoon. When we first saw the TV commercials for "Star Wars" it looked like a cheesy space opera like the old Flash Gordon serials.

However, we decided to go to the Loews Theatre in NYC that you showed in your article. The theater was huge and was filled with people of all types and ages.

There were a bunch of young people sitting in the back making a lot of noise and even smoking some questionable substances. The place was abuzz with excitement since there was a lot of word of mouth about how good this movie was. When the John Williams score exploded with the "Star Wars" logo in a chorus of brass and strings, the place went silent. The rush of the Star Destroyer rumbling overhead caused OOHs and Ahhs all throughout the theater. From that point on it was a rollercoaster ride of thrills, chills, suspense and joy as George Lucas took us on an edge-of-your-seat journey that was to last 30 years. When the Death Star was destroyed and the film ended with the throne room medal ceremony, the place erupted in thunderous applause. I had never seen that ever happen before in a MOVIE theatre. Since then, words and names like "Star Wars," "Luke Skywalker," "Darth Vader" and "Obi-Wan Kenobi" have become part of our everyday vocabulary. The film changed the movie industry and culture as well. There is probably not a person on this planet that had not heard of "Star Wars."

There has never been another movie or event that had the impact of the original "Star Wars" on the entertainment field since. I think it was because it was pure fun and had a happy ending (unlike many films today). The only other event that I can think of that is similar was the Beatles' appearance on Ed Sullivan.

My wife and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary with "Star Wars" and are thankful that we were able to experience this in our lifetime. I doubt that another movie or event will ever happen again like this.

Thirty years later, we sat in a theater at the Waterworks mall with our four children who have grown up with "Star Wars" to see the LAST film, "Revenge of the Sith." When the last scene with the twin suns of Tattooine setting to John Williams' soulful score played, I turned to my wife and kissed her and remember what a great 30 years it has been.

May the Force be with you...always.

Kenneth Ung

My family didn't have much money when I was growing up, so the fact that "Star Wars" was the first and only movie my sister and I were ever allowed to see twice in the theater (at the "outrageous" admission price of $3.00 per ticket) was a VERY big deal. We saw it, both times, at the theater behind the Eastland Mall in McKeesport.

I was 7 when the movie came out, and soon afterward, all the girls in my class were mooning over Luke Skywalker. I was the only one who liked Han Solo better and was considered a weirdo. My maiden name was Heidi Waun, and while I loved the movie "Star Wars," it became a reason for the boys in my class to call me Heidi Waun-Kenobi for the next 6 years.

Upon showing the original movie to my kids recently, they liked it, but it's hard to capture the same magic for them in an age of CGI. My 12-year-old daughter (who also liked Han Solo better) asked, "Wait, isn't that Indiana Jones?" and my 10-year-old son said, "Hey, Darth Vader sounds just like that guy from the Verizon commercials."

Heidi McDonald

I was living in Los Angeles in May of 1977, and I remember standing in a lengthy and festive line outside a theater "over the hill" in Hollywood. I was living out in "the Valley." I was with Richard Dysart and a couple other friends, and we were having a sort of impromptu party, along with a lot of other people in the line. I can't remember though, which theater we were lined up for, it was either Graumann's Chinese, or a newer big one where the entry was shaped like a big geodesic dome. For some reason I think it was light outside, not night time.

There was a real buzz in the theater when we all settled in, and the buzz got louder when the lights went down, and got a little louder with the music and the scroll of those memorable words up the screen, and then the ship coming down from the top of the screen, and then the laser shots from something unseen chasing it, and then when the rumbling Empire pursuing ship filled the entire screen everyone in the theater roared with delight.

I never experienced anything like that in a movie theater before....or since.

Tom Atkins
Peters Township

I remember when Star Wars came out. My Mom was taking my brothers and me to the movies, and we'd decided to see something else because we figured with this being the opening day, opening showing of the movie, it would be sold out. When we got to the cinema, the line for Star Wars was very short, and my brother and I liked what we saw in the commercials so we talked Mom into going. We found out why the line was so short when we got in - the room was full. We wound up with seats way up near the front. The movie was like nothing we'd ever seen before; it had us and the audience cheering and left us blown away when we left. No movie before or since has topped it; although a few have come close.

Jim Barsic

My Dad took my brother and me to see the movie in Butler. My youngest brother was born on the release date so we went when they got home from the hospital. We wanted to go to the early evening show but we had to wait in the rain for a later one. My mother was not so happy about that! To this day, sometimes when I call my brother he is watching a Star Wars movie.

John Boris
Annapolis, Md. / Sarver native
"Go Stillers, Beat the Ravens!"

I had the opportunity to see Star Wars with my entire family and I blew it. It was a rare occasion that the family was able to afford to go to the movies together, even in 1977. But we all had a choice as to what movie we wanted to see. My two sisters and younger brother all voted for Star Wars, then I cried because I wanted to see "Herbie the Love Bug." My parents gave in to my whining and we went to Herbie. It was at a drive-in and it poured. We had to leave half-way through. My siblings, to this day, have never forgiven me.

E.J. Seergae
Baltimore, Md.

I'm not from the Pittsburgh area; however, I may be someday...

In 1977 I was 6, and my family took me to see Star Wars. My Dad had to read the intro to me, because I was so young. I remember sitting through the whole movie wide-eyed and engrossed in the movie. My parents were both surprised that I didn't make a sound through the whole film. The next day it was all I talked about on the playground.

Wayne F.Stitt
Hometown: Pitman, N.J.
Currently Residing: Easton

As a fan, I have a good many "Star Wars" memories. As far as seeing the movie when I was young, well ... I wasn't allowed to see "Star Wars." :( I saw the movies later on and was hooked from the moment of the ultra-enthusiastic opening music. From light saber battles ending in glory even when something got broken or someone came close to having an eye poked out, to standing at election polls wearing a Vader mask, to the time I rescheduled my college finals to go see "Revenge of the Sith" for the second time the day after it opened -- yes, there certainly have been many memories and "Star Wars" shenanigans in my life over the years.

I figured lots of people would be sending in stories of childhood memories, so I'm just going to tell you about my collective "Star Wars" memories over the past year, as that is when I signed up for the official Fanforce group, Star Wars Association of Pittsburgh. Having never heard of the group, by that point I had missed out of much of the fun. Already the group had been together a few years, sharing their love of "Star Wars," standing in half-day long lines at conventions and such.

Now, of course, I've met fans here and there at the movies and in toy aisles, pretending to be buying action figures for children they know, but having the fans united in geekdom really made for a more superiorly awesome brand of fun. Yes, we all have "Star Wars" memories, and this past year I've gotten to "SWAP" memories and stories with everyone else in the group. There have been good times at local outings; I've learned how to play Epic Duels (even got to play with the three-time champion and a friend of mine got an autographed picture -- who knows how much that would go for on eBay!), award shows, costumes, and discussion -- both serious and ridiculous.

I think this Star Wars memory is a unique one, because the memories I will take from this group, though they may not ALL be "Star Wars" ones, are the great times shared with some really interesting new friends. And "Star Wars" is what brought us all together.

May the Force be with you, always.

Michele Trader

I was 13 years old when "Star Wars" was released and first heard about it while away at summer camp. One of the kids there had a "May the force be with you" button, and I had asked about it. He proceeded to describe this incredible movie unlike any seen before. Before long, all of the campers were abuzz about this new movie they had to see, once they got back to "civilization." After camp was over, I did see the movie and naturally was blown away -- having previously only seen TV shows like the original "Star Trek" with special effects consisting primarily of crude models hanging from strings. "Star Wars" was something beyond my adolescent imagination. I went on to see it 10 times that summer -- and countless times since.

Michael Izsak

I was three in 1977 and never saw the original trilogy. I knew about them and saw my (male) cousins have "Star Wars" items, and I figured they were boring boy movies. Fast-forward to 1993, the year I started dating my husband, a "Star Wars" freak.

"Star Wars" has been a big part of our lives. I've now seen all six movies several times ... took days off work for the premieres of the newer trilogies. We have a toy room of unopened boxes dedicated to "Star Wars." I am a not a real fan ... just a wife of a Huge Fan. I know I don't get the same enjoyment from the movies that my husband does, as they are childhood memories for him ... and he is still that 7-year-old boy inside when he watches them even now.

Jennifer Emerick
Mt. Washington

I was 12 years old when the first movie, Episode 4, came out. I was a preteen boy who loved "Star Trek" and any science fiction TV/movies/books I could get my hands on.

For whatever reason, one of my dad's friends took my brother, sister and me to see the movie in Morgantown, W.Va., where we lived at the time. We went to an afternoon showing, I believe, and we liked it so much that we stayed to watch it at least one more time. In those days, there were no cell phones so my parents were starting to get pretty worried that something had happened when we were gone all day with no word.

I remember calling the local radio station and requesting that theme song over and over and them playing it what seemed like constantly. I had all the models, posters and what have you.

Now that I have my own kids, two boys and a girl, I love sitting down to watch the movies with them. They love all six episodes as much as I do, and now they have the computer games and the online games that I would have loved as a kid. I guess being a nerd can run in the family!


Bob Wertz

In the spring of 1977 I was 11 years old and my family and I had just moved from Pittsburgh to Houston, Texas, and "Star Wars" hadn't opened there yet. When it did open, I remember my parents taking my sister and me to the Almeda Mall Cinemas on a Saturday afternoon to see it. We got there in time for the first show of the day but the line to get in stretched all the way through the mall. I remember we sat on the floor outside the theater, where they had a poster for the film on display. I sat there and kept looking at that poster and I could feel the excitement building. We finally got in for the third showing that day and from the opening crawl to the final credits I was completely amazed at what I saw. Needless to say, the other members of my family weren't as impressed as I was. To this day, "Star Wars" is still one of my favorite movies.

Tony Cammarata

Bob Raspet photos
Bob Raspet on Christmas Day, 1978, and today.
Click photos for larger versions.

I remember I was 6 years old back in 1977 watching previews on TV for what would become one of the greatest movies of all time. I begged my father to take me to see the movie.

My father not being a fan of long lines turned the car around after we pulled up to the theater in Monroeville and saw how long the line was. I cried the whole way home, and finally, after bugging him every day he finally broke down and took me again, we waited in line and saw Star Wars.

A year later (believe it or not, they didn't come out with the figures until 1978) my mother bought me my first 2 Star Wars action figures.

Thirty years later I have amassed a collection of well over 5,500 SW items, and I am the Western PA contact for the Pennsylvania Star Wars Collectors Society.

Over the years, I've been fortunate to meet many of the original actors and have countless fond memories spent collecting with friends.

Bob Raspet

The first time I "saw" Star Wars was in the womb -- my mom went to see the movie with my dad when it came out in 1977 and she was three months pregnant with me.

With the precedent set, I went to see Episode II in 2002 with my husband, when I was several months pregnant with my daughter. She turned somersaults the whole time -- no doubt in reaction to the appallingly bad dialogue.

Beth Polen
West View

I first saw the original "Star Wars" in the summer of 1977 in my hometown of Savannah, Ga. I went to the old Savannah Theatre on Bull Street, which you can briefly see, by the way, in the famous opening shot of "Forrest Gump" with the feather floating down from the sky. I was around 6 years old at the time and I went with my Mom, uncle, and some of my cousins.

My uncle had already seen the film and kept insisting to my Mom that we had to go see this movie. He loved it and knew that we would enjoy it too.

I can't remember too many moments of actually watching the film itself, I just remember that I was completely in awe of the entire experience. I had never seen anything like that before in a movie theatre! For some reason the one scene that sticks out in my mind to this day, is the shot of the creature's arm lying on the floor bleeding after Obi-Wan Kenobi slices it off in the cantina with his light sabre. For some reason that was much more gruesome to my 6-year-old brain than it really was.

To this day I am a "Star Wars" fan and I love and enjoy the film as much as I always have. I even named my cat George, in honor of one of my favorite directors, George Lucas.

Lee Karr

Having been born in 1974, I was too young to really go through the original wave of Star Wars fever. In fact, the first of the trilogy that I saw was "The Empire Strikes Back." And even though my family arrived late for the movie (but thankfully in time for the Battle of Hoth) I was immediately enthralled. After more than two dozen subsequent viewings, all I wanted in life was to see the original.

So, when "Star Wars" was re-released and my grandfather took me as a birthday gift, it was as if a missing piece of my life was finally filled. I sat captivated as the story of my heroes was finally revealed to me. Of course all that really did was set the stage for the biggest moment of my childhood with the eventual arrival of "Return of the Jedi." Some people don???t understand the magic of the trilogy. But, to me, "Star Wars" is more than just some space movie. It is everything that was good about being young.

The way previous generations remember where they were when Bobby Thompson hit the "shot heard round the world" or when man landed on the Moon is how many in my generation remember the first time that music played and the words "a long time ago" crawled across the screen.

I understand that some think it is just a movie, but to me (and many others), it will always be the best part of childhood.

Ken Sines

In 1977 my two sons were ages five and eight. On a Saturday afternoon the three of us ventured to the Monroeville Cinemas to see "Star Wars." Age clouds my memories of whether we had a great sense of anticipation regarding the movie we were going to see, but I remember with stark clarity that from the opening credits until the music crescendoed as we walked from the theater, we were all shamelessly awestruck.

It may be hard for some to comprehend, but 1977 technology was primitive in contrast to 2007. The world was becoming fascinated with Atari and its signature game Pong. The darting spot of light bouncing from side to side across the screen was wondrous (and sadly, marked the last time I beat my kids at anything connected to computer technology).

"Star Wars" unfolded before our eyes produced a grand sense of awe for all of us. For my kids the talking robots and the menacing Darth Vader were centers of attention. For me, the visual depiction of battles on a cosmic scale was mind boggling.

There was only one other major science fiction release in 1977, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." When the principle alien spacecraft arrival scene occurred at the end of the movie, I was yawning in comparison to "Star Wars." Today with HDTV, digital surround sound and lifelike computer graphics, it's sometimes difficult to remember that Stars Wars gave birth to it all.

Ron Porter
East Liberty

I was 4 years old and my parents took me to see "Star Wars" at the Monroeville Mall Theater. It would be the only one of the 6 that I did not see on Opening Day.

The new movies were great, but nothing compares to what it was like during the original run. Unlike today when movies will be on DVD 6-9 months from their theatrical release, we never knew when these movies would be in our home. Kids would brag, "I saw Empire 25 times, man!" And they were all in the theater.

Also most movies today have good special effects. There are minute differences between "good" SE and "bad". Star Wars was like nothing else ever seen before it. It blew everything else away, like no movie ever will again. So much so, that I believe that the old ways STILL look better than CGI.

The original movies were a special thing especially for people born from '65-78. I count myself fortunate to have been that age at that time.

Matt Swanson

I was 7 or 8 and living in Forest Hills when my parents took me to see "Return of the Jedi" on opening night at Showcase Cinema East in Wilkins Township across from Sears. WOW, was it ever so crowded, and I was so excited! I remember seeing a girl dressed up like Princess Leia, buns in her hair and all. My favorite part of the movie back then was the speeder bike chase and the green lightsaber, man that was cool!

Dave Drylie
New Kensington

I was in college when George Lucas re-released the original trilogy in theaters. As my excitement grew and grew waiting for the opening day, my roommate -- who has become my best friend -- made a casual comment at the dining hall that nearly devastated me.

"I've never seen the movie."

A stunned silence fell over the table. She looked around, innocent of the physical pain this simple statement caused me. Of course, through 20 years of life in American popular culture, she knew the gist of the story, but had never witnessed first hand the blinding twin suns of Tattooine or the doom-in-motion that is the Imperial Star Destroyer.

So I promptly organized an outing, complete with a stop for kids meals at the fast food place featuring the movie tie-ins, and helped her through her first "Star Wars" experience.

I few years later, I was out of college and working for a small weekly newspaper. I was once again obnoxious as the release of "The Phantom Menace" approached, so I was given an assignment to cover the midnight release at the local movie theater.

Among the group of friends I met at the theater for that very first shot at the movie was my college roommate and best friend. She had an old friend of hers in tow, a friend who had never seen a "Star Wars" movie. You could almost feel the Force working.

Sarah Sonnett

I was three years old, sitting in the back seat of a Jeep Cherokee, my legs sticking to the black vinyl seat. The windows were rolled down, and the music of John Williams was playing in mono through the poor-excuse-for-a-speaker sitting on the dash. My parents had taken my brother and me to the drive-in, just outside of Fairmont, W.Va., to see "Star Wars." It is one of my earliest childhood memories.

From that point on, it was action figures for every birthday and Christmas. George Lucas' creations were my primary source of inspiration as I developed my artistic abilities toward my current career in design. I'm still a huge fan, I still have the action figures, and I play a mean game of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit.

Jack L. Moffett

When I saw the first movie I didnt understand a lot, I only understood it was cool. Then my dream was always to have a R2 Unit and a Lightsaber. Then I saw "Return of the Jedi" with my dad. He was really happy about the movie.

Years go by and I was older, I got a job and I took my dad to see "Revenge of the Sith." He was really happy. Oh! and with my first paycheck I got the R2 unit and the Lightsaber.

"Star Wars" has influenced me in a lot of thing, jobs, making friends and even homework!

Simon Velarde Valencia
Arequipa, Peru

I never had the privilege of seeing the original films in the theaters, but I did see them when they were re-released. And finally being able to see them on the big screen was just magical. At the beginning, when that awesome theme started, it just seemed surreal. The whole audience was captivated, and they still are the only movies I've ever been to where the audience erupts into applause at the end.

I've also seen all the new additions in theaters as well, episodes I-III. I remember that when the "Phantom Menace" was coming out, the revived atmosphere for "Star Wars" was unbelievably palpable. I've never experienced anything like it. And in episode II, when Yoda came out to fight, I've never heard an audience applaud and cheer so much. Then, Episode III had an eager line waiting to get in, with people dressed up as Darth Vader and such. And the audience was so united with one another, sharing the experience together.

They are something that are beyond movies, and it's an experience I'll never forget.

Mike Vavro

I have fond "Star Wars" memories of the day I graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) in May 1980, especially since the "maker," George Lucas, is also a Trojan alumnus.

My day began with a general assembly followed by a more intimate School of Engineering ceremony. I had a good-sized posse of friends and family members with me that day, including my then-girlfriend whom I married a few months later (and remain so to this day almost 27 years later).

After the obligatory photo shoot at the Tommy Trojan statue on campus I was "kidnapped" by my posse to the nearby landmark Pantry restaurant for a celebratory graduation feast.

My special day was capped by a surprise trip to the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood to see "Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back." You haven't lived until you've experienced a Star Wars movie in all the glory and splendor of a Hollywood cinema! There was loud applause and cheering whenever a rebel hero appeared in the film, along with hissing and booing for the Galactic Empire villains. Artoo-Deetoo (my campus nick-name and alter-ego) received the loudest cheers.

To this day I remain a staunch Star Wars fan and avid memorabilia collector. And while I still can't talk my wife into wearing cinnamon buns on her ears a la Princess Leia, I have fully indoctrinated my children into the "Star Wars" galaxy!

Arturo Salazar
Los Angeles

I wish this were an exaggeration, but "Star Wars" changed my life.

I was eight years old when my dad took me to downtown Pittsburgh to see it for the first in what has turned out to be countless times. With popcorn in one hand and a candy bar in the other, I was transported to that far, far away galaxy, burst to life on the screen from the imagination of George Lucas. I thrilled to the sights and sounds of flying star ships, a Wookie named Chewbacca, Jawas, and light saber battles.

Over the next few years, I collected the action figures, ate the cereal and played the video games. But these materials are by far the least important byproducts of the "Star Wars" saga and what it means to its true fans.

"Star Wars" gave me something to believe in. I saw my reflection in young Luke Skywalker back then and discovered I, too, could reach for the stars.

Thirty years later, I still love the movie, quote the dialogue and thrill all over again to the rich tapestry of their universe. That's unlikely to ever change.

It may seem childish to some, but "Star Wars" is truly a powerful Force. It made me a better person and enabled me to dream the impossible.

David Mayernik Jr.
Scott Township

My absolute earliest "Star Wars" memory was when I saw it for about the 3rd time in 1979. I had a C-3PO action figure with me and was saying all the lines about a split-second before they were in the movie. I made some guy behind me very unhappy. I was only 7.

But, by far, my favorite Star Wars memory came years later when the Special Editions came out. My brother, who was not born yet when the movies originally came out, had become as big a fan as I, and one day I treated him to an all-day marathon of all three movies at the Village Theater in Bethel Park. We spent the entire day there and it was one of the best days I ever spent with him.

Now he lives in Los Angeles and I'm making a special trip out to see him and attend Celebration IV together.

Mark Seeley

I was 7 years old when Episode IV premiered. The first time we went to see "Star Wars" was the day of my First Holy Communion. I wore my white dress and veil, so I very much felt like Princess Leia herself! It was so amazing and wonderful! I'd never seen anything like it!

After that, I was a complete Star Wars freak -- and I still am. I've seen every movie I don't know how many times, read nearly every book, collected everything I could find and then some. I even lost a few friends over it, too, who thought I was a "Star Wars geek." Oh well. They're not Jedi material anyway -- long live Star Wars!

Amy Gallo
Jefferson Hills

My memory of "Star Wars" is that it is the only movie that I have ever seen with my father in an actual movie theater.

Our entire family had been living in Pittsburgh for the summer while Westinghouse decided where we were heading next. We had just left Brazil and then we ended up living in the Philippine Islands for the next year and a half. While all five of us shared two hotel rooms for several months, we talked my father into seeing "Star Wars" with the rest of us. He wasn't impressed but my mom, sisters and I were fans from the beginning. So this movie has a special place in my heart.

I wonder if he remembers.

Mary Howatson
Mt. Lebanon

The first time I saw Star Wars was when my mother was 8 1/2 months pregnant with me and I have been hooked ever since.

As I grew into childhood I had all the toys and the original trilogy ran nonstop on my parents' Beta player. When I became a teenager new books began being written by Timothy Zahn which expanded the Star Wars Universe for myself and all other Star Wars fans. Then in my twenties I camped out for days and was interviewed by all radio stations, newspapers and television stations while I waited in line for my Episode 1 tickets. Three years later we got to see Yoda fight like the Jedi Master we all knew he was in Episode 2 and we had all of our questions answered 3 years later in Episode 3.

Next month I turn 30 years old and I look forward to 30 more years of the wonderful Star wars Universe.

Sean O'Brien


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