Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why ??

Why? Ever ask yourself that question? I didn’t think so. Me neither. Well, maybe sometime. Today, for instance. Why am I attracted to old movie theatres? I don’t know. I don’t care much if I don’t know exactly why. I think it has to do with “grinning”. No, I don’t prefer comedies or goofy story lines in movies. I am a serious individual.

The Boss and I were eating breakfast at one of our many favorite places we frequent on Saturday mornings. “Frequent” is the right word, trust me. She was sitting there patting her foot waiting for me to finish my cup of coffee. She doesn’t drink coffee.

“Know what?”

“What?”, slurp

"I have been thinking, I wonder what the house Grandmother used to live in looks like?”

Slurp. “Humph.”

“I have thought about it a several times.”

"Ok, Let’s go then.” Coffee cup empty. I had worn out my excuses.

“It’s in Greenville.”
.“I ain’t that senile yet.” I slide my coffee cup to the side.

“And then we could ride on over to Denton and look at the house we moved into when we got married. That is only a little over an hour more”
“Did you take your pills this morning?”
“Yes, but I need my sunglasses.”
At 11:30 am we are leaving the house for the second time that morning. Sunglasses, books, Kindle and cameras. Off to Grandmother’s house we go.
In a couple of hours we were driving up and down the remembered street counting the lots of the once sidewalk edged street. Well, things aren’t as big, long, or shinny as we remember growing up. The street was broken and cracked. Weeds lined both sides of the once manicured street.
.“Ok, it is in the next block, slow down.”
I would have never guessed to do that. I coasted to an almost slow crawl.

“We missed it. You have got to turn around.”

I would have never guessed to do that. I turned around right in the middle of the next intersection. There was no traffic. I had to be careful of the Dodge pickup that looked abandoned.

“Ok, don’t go so fast, you will pass it again.”

Do you think I would have ever guessed to do that?
.“It’s gone.”
It was gone. The pier foundation posts were still there.

“What happen to it?"
“I don’t know. I guess somebody took it.” I was amused at my wit.

The Boss’s expression revealed to me that not only was I not amusing, but there was more to it than that.

We expect things to stay as we remembered them. Time has passed since I started this story. Time had devoured that small part of her world. I did not feel witty anymore. I made another turnaround and drove back down the street. It was still discouraging.

“Well, let’s go on to Denton and we will have a good time there.” Putting an optimistic spin on the situation, I felt, seemed like a good idea.

“Ok.” Looking out the window, she was searching one last time. I could not see her face.

As we drove out of that neighborhood, I think maybe that street still had its sidewalks bordered with neatly trimmed grass and flowers dotting the adjacent yards. I am pretty sure The Boss saw it
* * * * * * * *
Denton, Texas 1970, avenue B. flash to 2010.

“Turn left here.”
I don’t think I would have thought of that. How did I ever make it this far, reckon?
“The street used to be crushed rock. Remember trying to ride that old bicycle that you painted florescent green on all that gravel. This is much better. I am glad to see good changes for a while.”
I slowed to a crawl, I don’t have to be told three times.
“It should be right there. But,,It is gone. There are apartments there now.”
I backed the van up. There was no Dodge pickup in the way on the street. “Are you sure it wasn’t the last one, there?”
“No, it was next to the last one on the street. It’ gone.”
“The E-Z Mart is still back there. We passed it awhile ago. Let’s go get some M&Ms and a Dr Pepper. Remember? We used to do that every time I got paid.” I didn’t want her looking out the window like back in Greenville. I almost felt a little frantic.
“Ok, but It’s gone.” Something must have been outside the window.
“Let’s ride around the square. I want to take some shots of the old movie theaters. I have been taking pictures in every town I travel to when calling on customers. Those M&Ms are pretty good aren’t they?”
Crunch, Crunch, Crunch.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In 1971, John Wayne as “Big Jake” came to the silver screen at the Campus Theatre on west Hickory Avenue. We were there. The theatre was still there. I got out of the van and walked up to the front door. The Boss stayed with the air conditioning and her Kindle. I could see someone moving around through the round windows of the lobby doors leading into the main auditorium. I figured that if I messed around looking through the front door long enough he would get curious and ask what the heck I wanted.

I jumped a mile. A nicely dressed young woman came from behind me. “Could I help you?”

“Ah, yes ma’um,,ah my name is (you know what it is), and my wife and I moved to Denton in 1970 and we came to this theater all the time.” I sort of was talking off the cuff.”And I am a famous writer and I got this blog site, and all my friends would just love to hear about how,, this and that.” I could see it in her face. She finally smiled.

“Would you like to peek inside?”
“Oh, yes ma’um, that would be wonderful, and if you don’t mind, would it be ok to take a few pictures of the inside, if I can’t, well, I understand and all that.” Envision a “hang-dog” look right here.
A light chuckle. “Sur’uh, but I am running behind and we have a play performance tonight so I have GOT to get some paper work finished. Just take all you want.”

“Yes Ma’um, I will only take a few so I will only be a minute.”

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels played that Saturday night. I did not go to the show, but, you know what? I am going to one in the future. I might go to two of them. The building was refurbished to its original state.

The carpet was manufactured in the original weave and color pattern. The seats were upgraded. professional stage lighting was installed and it looked like the stage area may have been enlarged. Some things I miss. I am a talker not a reporter, but I wanted to share with you why I like old theatres, both renovated and dilapidated. I am attracted to all of them. Why? Well that is how we started today and after studying about it. I think it is because they hold a treasure of universal memories for everyone that has ever had the opportunity to go to one of the single screen, pop corn cooking, shoe sole sticking movie houses. They can fall in on themselves but the mystic is never “gone”. Try to look at one, if you are old enough to remember them, and try to keep that grin off your face.

Larry McMurtry, I hope you are wrong. I hope there will never be “The Last Picture Show”
If you want to drop by "The Campus" website just click on the highlight
Say "hello" to Ms. Julie
**sorry about the spacing and layout, after 1.5 hours of everything jumping around, I gave up. Try you best to read it.. lol



  1. So, this is what you've been up to, Glenn :)
    It's sort of bittersweet, isn't it...

  2. Glenn! I went to NTSU from June 1966 thru May 1967! Then I lived there again in 1968-1969 with my first husband, in a little apartment just off campus, around the corner from Griff's Hamburgers! We just missed each other, though I'm sure we came back for a fraternity party or two before we left the state. Small world!

    I don't remember the theater, but I'm sure I've been there. I love the old theaters in general, and am very nostalgic when I see one that hasn't been torn down. They bring back our memories of teen years and young adulthood, like drive-in theaters. I went back to Denton about twenty years ago, and didn't recognize a thing. I think my dorm, one of the oldest at the time, had even been torn down or turned into something else.

    I can understand your wife's disappointment. It's like thinking someone you used to know was alive, and then finding out they died in the Vietnam war or something like that decades ago. You've pictured in your head what they were like when you knew them, and what they might have become as adults, and then find out they never became adults. Surreal. And disappointing.

  3. I love that you never actually tell the Boss, "I don't think I would have thought of that...".

    That was a wonderful time trip. It takes a lot of years on planet earth to see that everything does indeed constantly change. You have a wonderful way of taking your reader through the serious side of life with a wink and a smile. Thanks, I've missed your stories.

  4. What a wonderful post Glenn, small town American is a beautiful place. I loved your pictures as well.

    Felt bad that "the boss" wasn't able to see the old homes she once remembered. One thing we can count on is change......:-) Hugs

  5. I so enjoyed this trip with you and the boss,I understood exactly how she felt. I have also experienced this and just wanted to give her a hug. As I have said before,I love theaters too. I noticed they were having theater school,that would be so much fun to attend. I hope you invite us along on your next trip down memory lane. Ya'll have a good evening.

  6. You transported me one town over, where we still have an old movie theatre with velvet curtains blocking the concession stand from the theatre and the wooden floors squeak when you walk down the aisle. LOVE this post...even though it also reminded me of one town over in the other direction, where my grandparents used to have a summer house which was torn down and "made better" about 10 years ago. There is this jazzy home there now where we used to run barefooted across a splintering porch. I walk by the property sometimes, and all I recognize is the manhole cover in the middle of the front lawn.

  7. I grew up in Wichita Falls and later in Burkburnett. But in Wichita Falls there was this elegant theater with deep blue curtains and twinkly star light in the ceiling. I think I've been looking for a theater like that ever sense.

    I did take a side jaunt once to Antlers, Okla. to drive by my parents old house. Just as you experienced, it was gone. A lonely foundation still with the hickory tree on the property. I felt...I don't know...disturbed...out of sync.

    Nice thought provoking post.

  8. Love this the style..a nice dialogue between two people who are good friends as well as old married folk. Funny how we start to read each others minds,huh.
    thanks for the sweet comment on my's been hanging in here so long, I never think about it any more.
    I may give it another try...
    Stay cool and keep typing..

  9. Thanks for sharing this dialogue and trip with all of us. I can understand that bittersweet feeling going back to see the old places. Glad that you did it together :)

  10. Round portals in theatre doors. Yeah, I remember those. I loved mostly the interaction between you and the boss...loved your silent annoyance, and her still resolute in some convoluted knowledge that she controls you. Absolutely loved it for the familiarity, the way she pat her breakfast, your coffee excuses, M&M distractions. I saw more of you here than ever before. Oh, simmer down's ok.

  11. Glenn, I was back and forth between laughing and aching. Ya, I saw yer wit. Real familiar worn edge to it. Stuff of understanding and love, I think. And your history. Your wife's. And the relentless turn of time. And then on to those things that remain, just like your refurbished movie house. There is a lot here, Glenn. This story coulda gone off in any direction, but you went real slow and didn't miss a turn, afterall. You're a gentle sort. Feel I know you.

    Glad you got those M and M's. Know what I mean?


  12. Oh, I can't lie, I cried a little to hear you talk about not wanting her to look out the window like that again. I'm so sad the houses are gone, but so glad you have each other for your funny little road trips and manners of speaking (I can hear the conversation over the "regular" breakfast as if it were actually happening as I read it).

    My, my, dad, you know how to tell a story :)

    Lime green bicycle???