Sunday, as previously mentioned, we went to an opened house at the Strand Theater.
We have already been once after it was renovated. We went New Years Eve to hear Billy Joe Royal in concert. But that was to see and hear the concert, we didn’t have a chance to look around.
I have many memories from my Strand days.
"Baby Bird" (David Green)
Back before I was 12 years old attendance was mandatory for kids my age on Saturday morning. We would see normally see a cowboy movie or sometimes a movie featuring the Bowery Boys, a cartoon, a newsreel, and a cliff hanging serial – which insured us being back the next week to see how the hero got out of that fine mess he found himself in.
Then, a lot of times Saturday or Sunday night I would return with my family to see a good grownup movie, maybe a musical, maybe a shoot’em up cops and robbers movie… movies that are on the Turner Classics today.
I remember one time in the day time (why in the day time?) I was playing with a Roman candle and the blast of white-hot flames licked the palm of my hand which was a very painful ordeal. Also, it presented me with a problem. I was afraid to tell my parents of my blunder because fireworks were illegal and Daddy was a policeman. The only solution I could think of going to a Strand Theater matinee and buying a large Coke and sitting there lost in the movie with my hand down in the cola and ice. It worked. It helped to be on friendly terms with the girl behind the counter – I explained to her what I was going through and what I needed and she told me to keep the cup and she would refill it for me with mostly ice.
I’m sure there were better solutions – but at least this way I could be entertained while wallowing in misery.
After being a teenager we went a lot to movies in mid afternoon after school. Back then you could buy your ticket and go in anytime. If you entered a movie midway you would just wait until that scene rolled around again to leave. Many times you are your companion would say, “This is where we came in.”
As teenagers the ushers kept on us. We would make comments and wise-cracks throughout the movie which the usher kicked us out on more than one occasion and we have even been banned. We knew we just had to wait it out a few months until a new usher was hired… it was music to the ears when we heard “the Strand has a new usher.” We could return.
One time an usher made us leave and told us not to come back Larry B. told his mother. She listened to his “watered down version” and said “Humbug!” It was the first time I heard someone use “humbug” as an expression, other than Charles Dickens. She went down to the Strand and complained to the manager and came back and said we were allowed to return – providing we used our best behavior.
Our best behavior wasn’t saying much, but we got to go back and the usher sort of ignored us – just a nod.
A little man that was a ticket taker was Sharkey. Sharkey was nice, quiet and polite, and not all that observant. We found we could enter from the outside and light up. There was a small area between two sets of doors that smokers smoked… it was also where Sharkey was stationed. After we smoked a cigarette and talked to Sharkey a while, we would ground our cigarettes in the container, and go into the lobby of the theater as if that is where we came from.
Once there was a manager at the Strand named Tiny. Tiny was a big fat brute. He was a Marietta Policeman until he was fired for shooting blacks on several occasions. He later moved on up in the Theater business world to be the manager of the Rialto on Forsyth Street in Atlanta.
I remember watching all the old scary movies when I was young and movies like Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon and I am not quiet sure where and when I saw them. That type of movie either rated a Saturday morning audience or a grown up audience anytime… however, they almost fell into the “B Movie” category, which in that case they would fall in the Cobb Theater group – they were always showing B movies.