I was living in California in 1977 when Star Wars: A New Hope was released in theaters. I am not 100% sure that we went to see it in the theater, but I know we embraced every bit of the story as young boys as we explored the galaxy around us.
In 1980 we were living in Hood River, Oregon and I remember the theater and approximate row I was sitting in when we went as a family to watch The Empire Strikes Back (which arguably is the best of 4, 5 & 6). I recall that movies back then were captured on large reels (none of this digital awesomeness that we have today) and those reels not being large enough to hold an entire movie. This would require the movie to have an intermission while the theater crew would remove one reel and replace it with the next. On certain movies I can remember precisely where the cut for intermission took place and these two first films I remember plainly.
It just so happens that later that year I got my first X-Wing fighter toy for my birthday. It was the best present ever! I remember flying it through the house in dim lighting and pressing the blue button located just behind R2-D2 and the red light flashing on the front of the fighter with a laser-type noise emanating from within. The wings moved to the 'X' position with another button and it was just the best!
In 1983 we were living in Bountiful, Utah and I remember going to Salt Lake City to the Century Theaters that were located downtown and seeing The Return of the Jedi. This was the year of the great floods of Utah and State Street at the time of the movie release was converted into a temporary river to allow for the water flow with minimal damage to homes and businesses. I remember being in awe at the sheer number of sandbags (over a million) and amount of water that was running through the city as we walked our way through detours and over temporary pedestrian bridges which spanned the width of the streets to arrive at our theater destination.
This week we were able to go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens as a family of our own. We all had our SW shirts on display and I don't think I heard one complaint about the movie. In the following days Seth & Leah spent days putting together Star Wars Lego ships that haven't been erected for quite some time (the Millennium Falcon is incredible!). It was fun to listen and watch them - surely these will be memories that they will cherish in their later years.
Almost 40 years since the original movie was released the memories are countless for me and the force lives on in my children.