Family sponsoring ‘free popcorn weekend’ at theater in Harmony
This weekend, moviegoers at the JEM Theater in Harmony will be treated to a free small bag of popcorn with the price of admission.
The popcorn is being provided by the family of Richard Thundale Rostvold, the son of the founder of the JEM Theater.
Richard Rostvold died in August in San Antonio, Texas, and his family returned to Harmony to have a memorial service where he spent his childhood.
Sue Rostvold, Richard's daughter, has since explored her family's history and has written how Harmony continues to hold such special memories for her and her siblings.
Following are some of her thoughts on Harmony and some of the history of her family, which includes how the JEM theater was started and how it got its name.
"Return to Harmony"
By Sue Rostvold
My great-grandfather, Ole Nels Thundale, owned the General Merchandise store in Harmony about 100 years ago. He had a house built at 60 2nd Avenue SE in 1894. My grandmother, Emma Glendora (Thundale) Rostvold lived there for 80 years. My grandfather, Joseph Milford Rostvold, married Emma and lived there 50 years. My father was born and lived there for 18 years. My grandparents both lived to be 92, and they both loved the community with all their hearts.
My grandmother worked at Thundale’s before she married J.M. Rostvold and they had three children; Joseph, Richard and Elizabeth.
My grandfather, J.M, Rostvold, was one of the coaches for the Harmony (semi-pro) baseball team and was also part owner of a bowling alley, and owned theaters in Spring Grove, Caledonia and Harmony and a barbershop at different times in Harmony after serving in WWI.
My parents met and grew up together in Harmony. My mom was the “new girl” in town in 1938. She lived in the house on 60 2nd Street. Dad claims he was the “class cut-up." It seems to me that that’s just a nice way of saying he was a trouble-maker.
My mom’s family owned the Harmony Café.
The JEM Theater opened it’s doors in 1940. It was named after almost everyone in the family. “J” was for Joseph (my grandfather and uncles’ first name), “E” was for Emma, (my grandmother) and Elizabeth (my aunt), and “M” was for Milford, (my grandfather and uncle’s middle name). My grandfather’s name was Joseph Milford Rostvold, but he went by Milford most of the time. They tried, but couldn’t figure out a way to get an “R” into the name, which would have represented Richard and Rostvold. The only word they could come up with was the “JERM” theatre and that didn’t have much of a ring to it. My dad never took it personally and the JEM Theater was born.
I kind of feel like I grew up in Harmony, too, because our family made frequent trips to Harmony for holidays and summer vacations.
I mainly remember Harmony in the 1960s and early 1970s, my grade school and junior high years. I felt so grown up to be able to walk around Harmony all by myself. I could walk from the house my dad grew up in to the house my mom grew up in and get some candy at the five and dime, (D & D), along the way. Roundtrip it was only about 10 blocks. Sometimes I’d stop in at the Harmony House if I saw Dad, Grandpa or Uncle through the window having coffee and visiting.
Since my grandfather was a barber we usually got haircuts when we came to visit, sometimes at the barbershop and sometimes at home in the big bathroom upstairs.
Going to the JEM theater was always the most fun for me. I remember watching the movie "The Sound of Music," among others, at the JEM Theater many times. There was a limit to the candy consumption, but I don’t remember there being a limit to the amount of popcorn we could have. Popcorn was always the snack of choice at the Rostvold house. It remained my dad’s favorite snack for his entire life. Popcorn was almost a nightly family event at our house and Dad always made sure your bowl was never empty.
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Because of Richard's love for popcorn and because of his children's love for him, they decided an appropriate celebration of his life would be to treat moviegoers to free popcorn.
The Rostvold children, providing this special treat are Nancy, Sue, Mark and Scott.