My dad was transferred to China Lake in 1966 and worked for Special Services on base. He was the station theater manager (I got to see quite a few free movies, cashiered for awhile), ran the gym and pool, and was involved in various other things like the stables, bowling alley, and hobby shop. We lived in Wherry housing at 324 Segundo. Any military kids out there remember the Chief's Club (Barney made a great prime rib), the Malt Shop, the pesky ushers in the theater with their flashlights ($.25 for a movie), etc.? I've read posts on town "spots" but would like to hear more about the base 

Diana Schultz 1968

   I lived on base at the corner of Wasp Road and Nimitz, walking distance to the theater. It really did cost only a quarter, and I remember watching "Jack the Giant Killer" on more than one Saturday! I can also remember going to see "The Absent-minded Professor" with my family in the evening. The "station theater" also had many concerts and lectures held there--I attended a lot of them with my father, so the place holds fond memories for me. One last memory--before the lecture center was completed at Burroughs, the band held its Spring Concert there on June 5,1970,the day I got my driver's license. 

Margaret Sizemore

   The station theater (always hated just getting settled and having to stand up for the national anthem) was probably one of the best places for social activities. I remember when they had the Miss Ridgecrest/China Lake Beauty Pageant there and featured Susan Anton. Pretty impressive! It was also a great place to check out the sailors who invariably could be identified by the smell of hamburgers and french fries, resulting from their previous stop at the Malt Shop. Diana Schultz
Absolutely!! :o) I think for a lot of us, the base was the first place we lived, then moved on to Ridgecrest!! Big Move!! :DD The movies were the best, 25 to get in, 10 for the popcorn and the coke, and a nickel for a candy bar.... 50 for an afternoon at the movies. Even for those times our parents got off cheap, can't say that for us now. :o/

D'Laine Brannan

  Even the bowling alley, you could have the greatest time there and hardly spend anything, and I remember liking their deep fried burritoes. :D Barney was the coolest! Even when I got old enough to play bingo, he was so much fun as the ball caller! :D Lived less than five houses from Dry Lake, so we had the entire desert (or it felt that way as kids) to do as we pleased in. Dee

  I most definitely agree with your comment about our parents getting off cheap on our entertainment(mine, more than most, lol). With me being a military brat, I didn't waste much time sampling all the goodies that the base had to offer. I even recall when during my sophomore year, our P.E. class actually went to the base gym/pool to get in a little swimming and sunning. Which brings up another subject, does anyone remember Mrs. Gulick. She was one of the greatest! I left Ridgecrest/China Lake for the last time in 1982 and don't really have plans on ever going back (maybe a visit, if I'm around for my 35th reunion). I hear occasionally from two brothers that still live there that it has grown quite a bit with a number of changes. I guess I'd rather remember it as it was then. Plenty of good memories!

Diana Schultz

Yes Diana I remember just about every and all 162 Trillion Desert nights in C/L & R/C. Hung out everywhere but home. Buy the way I seem to have been looking for home forever. Still have 3 brain cell left, but have to reprogram them daily. I remember complaining about the 10 cent difference between the Ridge Theater and the Base Theater.


  I can remember before I moved to R/C, I visited my grandparents in the 50s (i Know my age is showing ha) the movies was a dime!!! can you imagine? Memories, wow, one thing noone can take away...remember the baseball diamond behind the show? It had real dugouts,, great
place to go with your boyfriend when you were 14 or so...ha those were the days...Diana, do you have a brother Danny? My cousin Steve Smith ('65 i thinK) is looking for him.
ake care....

Theresa Kersten

  I'm not a Navy kid , but my parents worked Civil Service on the base. I remember the Malt Shop with fond memories. I lived at China Lake / Ridgecrest so long that I remember when the theater was only 10 cents. 
Clarice Graham

). I also remembered another thing about the station theater that I did that was quite clever. They got the oil for the popcorn in large canisters and it was about the consistency of softened butter. Some sort of dye was added to make it the yellow color. My dad had brought a canister home (for our own use) and I discovered it was great for enhancing a tan (sort of on the lines of mixing baby oil and iodine, only more natural). Soon, I talked my neighbor friend, Maryann Hillman into using it because she had been quite envious of the results and wanted to know my secret. It's kind of funny how I remember things like that!

Diana Schultz

  One of the best memories I have of the theater was when The Beach Boys did a concert there. My brother, Randy, was forced to take me to see it. Made him cranky, but it was one of the "wonders" I remember from living on base. And the Malt Shop was one of the favorite places to "sneak off to" at lunch from Murray. Amazing how the teachers knew all of our escape routes but still let us slip by once in a while. Remember Mrs. Tillit? Kids used to make fun of her because of her bad leg, but boy could she MOVE! Chased me from the school to the gym one day.

Margaret Sizemore

  I remember the base theater but mostly went to the Ridge and Crest drive-in. But my cousin use to take me to the movies when I was about 3 or 4 (she was 6 years older than me and hated it) to see matinees. Also the base pool alot. I remember one time when I was about 4 or so, her friend Beverly and her had to take me with them to see a movie called "The Snow Queen" and it scared me to death. She was so mad because I started crying and she had to take me out to the lobby because I didn't want to see anymore of it! She moved to Sacramento in about 1964, so she finished school there. Can't remember Bev's last name, but she lived on base too near the golf course and years later was one of my nurses at Ridgecrest Hospital when I was hospitalized for awhile. Amazing the memories this stuff triggers!!!

Cathy Padgett

I remember going to the Station Theater with Kathy Fenton to see "Flesh Gordon"....we thought it was "Flash Gordon" and we were too embarrassed to get up and leave when we saw one of our teachers 3 rows back....Ahhhhhh, the good ole days and my first "dirty" movie:-)

Lisa Camp

  You mean the same base theater where I helped John Kay and the rest
of the band (Steppenwolf) set up there stuff. I was in the fifth grade then. John Kay stepped on a pair of the most darkest purple shades ever made by humans , and broke off one of the arms on them, then gaven them to me. My mom through them away thinking they would blind me!! I even helped make most of the signs that were strung up around the base, heck, I thiught Steppenwolf was an orchestra type band because they always had stuff like that going on there. Boy was I surprised!!!! They had a spinning Cristmas light on stage with them. It was when they were touring with there first album!! Those Hammond B3"s weighed a ton!!! I must of seen a hundred Captan Vidio shows there too. Cheyenne Allen

...I remember the Gym, the pool and the chiefs club. My dad bartended there, I swam there at the pool and spent many hours at the theater. I graduated from Burroughs in 78. Our graduation party was at an outdoor pool that kinda looked like a bomb crater. Some of my fonder memories of growing up were at China Lake. I spent the summer after graduation working at the Crest Drive In  James Sterret

Who could forget it? 10c turnstiles. I (never) grew up a half block away from there. I kept the Malt Shoppe in business. Bicycles, skateboards, go-carts, swabees. DR. Ted Stump amazed us all at the Murray talent show with his piano concerto, who knew? Thanks Ted. Marty Denkin through the window at the Youth Center. The clorine. Bret Catcott splatting on the deck off the 'high dive'. Randy Crawford and I used to get up on the roof of the boiler room fire off the noon whistle at random. Did you hear it? The 'Steam Room' was kinda scary, lotta wrinkles in there. Then there was the beer machines at the BOQ's. 25c and all you could carry on your sting ray. Ditching the base cops after curfew...10:00pm. Those gray Chevy pickups were no match for a Schwinn. Do it over again? Yeah....... 

Richard Kelly

I just read through the site and I wanted to say that I remember the base theater very well. That's where I got a lesson or comeuppance in dating etiquette. I had arranged a date with
extremely cute brunette (Pat) whom I did lust after. But, boys being boys, I had a better offer. I was in high school and some of the guys who had gone off to college came home and I wanted to join them instead (thinking back, that was dumb). Anyway, I called Pat, told her my horse was sick and I had to stay with the vet and take care of my horse ( thinking about it now,I don't even know if we had a vet back then). She said fine so I assumed that she would spend the night at home. The guys and I decided to see the second show at the base theater and we were at the head of the line when the first showing ended. And yep, one of the first people out the door was Pat. She didn't say anything but gave me that 'look' that only a wronged female can give. She never said anything at school and acted as if nothing happened. I let a week go by and then I arranged another date. Boy, I thought I was cool. That Friday at school she said that she would be ready at 8, and I was dreaming of good things to come. When I arrived at her house at 8 it was dark, I had been stood up. Pissed, yeah, But I had a good laugh. I always had a lot of respect for her after that .....but I never asked her out again, my ego couldn't stand getting shot down twice by the same gal.

Ronald Smith


Hi, I'm a 1954 graduate of the old Burroughs High when it was on the base.

   My dad (Buell Beadle) gave NOTS the name 'China Lake'  when he was Chief of
   Staff, way back when.  Those were really great days for a teenager.  No drugs, no
    crime, (at least none I was aware of), we could walk home after dark and not think
    anything about it.  Played ping pong and checkers at the 'Stall' (really sounds
    exciting, doesn't it?)  There was really very little to Ridgecrest at that time.

    Do you remember the "Blitz' stickers to get on base?  Those were for the 'high
    ranking' folk and the Marines would just wave the whole car load through the gate
    without checking indidivual passes.  What a kick as a teenager with friends in
    daddy's car - one of the Marines even saluted as we came and went.  Lots of fun.

    During the summer we used to go to 'Ship's Service' and get a huge, cold dill pickle
    for a nickel and just get on the bus and ride around.  Naturally it was free.  After
    school would stop in for a plate of shoestring fries and a cherry coke - cost us 25
    cents -- try that now.

    Barbara (Beadle) Bell (1954)


I used to go to the base pool quite often, especially on the weekends, 'cause one has to maintain the California tan image, correct?
   It was there that I met and struck up a conversation with a cute local girl by the name of Vicky Romero (Caesar's neice). One thing led to another, and ended up with us planning on a dinner date that Friday night. WOW the thrill of it all, me dating a celebrity!
Well, it just so happened that she called me Friday afternoon and cancelled the engagement.

What a bummer. But that's life.  Oh, the good ole days.

  Robert Holly
More will be added here as more people respond with their experiences and adventures. . . .
High Desert Memories - A Hometown Journal Commemorating Ridgecrest California
The Base Pool, Theater
and Other places . .
  During my time in high school the base pool was used for physical education classes and for the purpose of training competitive swimmers from our school.  Of course the pool was used by military and their dependents and by civilians who lived on base and their dependents.  It was a pleasant place to escape the heat of the day and provided untold pleasure for those who used it on a continual basis.  It was attached to the Gymnasium and was accessible through the lockerrooms as well as outside entries.  There was a patio to one side and there were chairs and tables there to relax and socialize. I'm afraid I never availed myself of the privilege of its use when I was not attending a PE class.  I guess I felt it was just a little too much like Mr. Moore's PE class and I didn't want any more of that!!!! 

  My only experience with the Base Theater was as a place for the High School assemblies and my graduation ceremony.    But I could see that the people who used it enjoyed its benefits.  You will see some of those explanations and descriptions below.

The rest of the community center area on base was used by all who had the privileges.  You can see most of those in the descriptions which follow.
One thing that Dr. Lauritsen, Cmdr. Renard, and many others, had in common in 1943; was love of family. The men who were involved in the massive building project always carried pictures, in their wallets, of their loved ones. The first private snapshots came from "Kodak Brownie Box Cameras" and 620 b/w film.

  Then came 16mm Cameras, because the navy used 16mm projectors. The first off duty films shown at Inyokern were of a personal nature; showing co-workers, local fishing trips, etc, They were not commercial films. Then a daily Gov't. Transport flight brought in 16mm x 1000' quick show movies; then later, 2 reeled 16mm x 1200' Hollywood type commercial films. We sat on wood benches (no backs); set up between two quanset huts for wind protection.

  Later, our movie house was inside a quanset set. Still later, two quansets were bolted together; end to end. The center double wall was partially cut out. The movie goers grew from a handful to maximum capacity. Everything was free and you brought your own snacks.

  The permanent theatre was built and a sailor sold 10 cent tickets; a 2 cent State Tax was levied but didn't last long.  Life was good for kids like me. 
   Roy Gerard