Sunday, January 16, 2011

Movies, Men & Mice

Richland has a local theater. We have yet to attend any plays there. It isn't because we don't want to go, it just seems we always have something else on our busy social calendar.  Yesterday, I snapped a pic of the billboard just for fun. 

I was also thinking about no. 8 on my 20 Rules I've Broken list.

I worked in a movie theater when I was in high school.  It was the best job ever and I'm sure it's why I have such a love of movies today.

My sister and I grew up in the really small town of  Haines, Alaska.  There weren't a lot of jobs to be had so I was lucky to get out of the babysitting business and work at a real job. It was a very small theater but it had a balcony and it was the local hangout on Friday and Saturday nights. We only ran one movie a night and I can't remember if we ever had more than one movie in-house at a time. It was very expensive to rent the huge reels and the manager, Archie, had to reserve them far in advance to get good movies to Haines.  We had to be able to cover our costs of renting the reels so he made sure we got popular ones in so people would spend their hard-earned money to come to the theater.  Those were hard times back then and not everyone had a job.  Not so unlike today.  Going to the movies was a treat ~ it was what you saved your babysitting money for.  But working in the theater afforded awesome fringe benefits!

I did every job there was at the theater except I never ran the projector. Archie was an old fashioned kinda guy and it seems he left that job for the guys. The reels were heavy and you had to be paying attention because there was a little white dot that would come up on the screen at the end of the reel and you had to have your finger on the 2nd projector and turn it on as soon as you saw that white dot. This lined up the 2nd  reel to start projecting when the 1st reel ran out.  Do any of you remember seeing that back in the day?  Sometimes, if the projector guy was asleep at the wheel, the 1st reel would run out and all you'd see is white screen.  Uh oh!

I worked in the concession stand a lot. It was a very small counter with a big popcorn machine, soda dispenser and assorted candies. Back behind the movie screen, we kept all our candy & popcorn supplies. The popcorn was kept in a huge metal barrel that had a heavy lid on it.  One time somebody forgot to put the lid back on all the way and a mouse fell into the popcorn seeds and met his demise. It was disgusting. I'd love to tell you that we disposed of the entire barrel of popcorn seeds but that's not what happened.  Archie was a sensible guy and he told us to just take a big scooper to remove the poor mouse and not to worry about. Apparently he thought the extremely hot butter flavored grease we cooked the popcorn in would take care of anything that might otherwise cause harm.  I know.  Ick.

I also worked the ticket sales at the front door.  LOVED that job. I got to see all my friends come in and see who was dating who. It was wonderful to be behind that plexi-glass. I had a secret crush on more than one cute guy and since the only other thing to do in Haines was party, often times everyone would come to the movies first and pass the word about where the party was happening after the show.  Usually it was at "11 Mile".  That's a topic for another post ... undoubtedly.

A couple of us had keys to the theater so when a particularly popular movie would come in, we would go late at night and run it for ourselves & a few select friends.  We would bring our own big plastics cups to fill with crushed ice, soda and usually some kind of alcohol, as the paper cups were counted ~ that's how we figured our income. Archie had an inventory sheet that we would have to complete every night after the show to see if we met our expenses and to match up with the $$ taken in.

The movie that made the biggest impression on me back in the day was "The Exorcist". To this day, I really can't watch that movie.  It scared the crap out of me then and just the thought of it now gives me shivers. It had an "R" rating and while Archie did a really good job of keeping kids out of the theater when we had "R" movies in town, us workers watched them whenever we could get together for a late night showing.  Those were the good old days!

When my son was a teenager, we went to a couple of movies every year.  If it had been up to me, we would have spent every single weekend at the movie theater. I love everything about going to the movies. Love the smell of popcorn, the comfy seats, surround sound and most of all the big screen. I love the experience of going and sitting next to someone you care about. Today, on the rare occasion when we do go see a movie, these memories come back as if it was yesterday.  It's been 30-plus years.


  1. i went to the movies every single sunday afternoon while i was going to high school. i loved the movies!! and still do...the big screen is so awesome and the new 3D is totally excellent! i go when i can and now that i'm retired i plan on going to more it's cheaper for me being in an "older" age bracket. LOL thanks for bringing back the movie memories for me.

  2. That popcorn/mouse story has grossed me out all day....I was one of those consumers of movie popcorn and ate it with relish!

  3. Ah ... so sorry Kathy! Yeah, it's one of those things that I have never been able to get out of my head either!

  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I popped over hear to do a little reading and see that you grew up in Haines. Of all the places that my husband and I have visited in Alaska, Haines is our favorite (outside of Fairbanks). We could actually see ourselves living there. Beautiful! And the people were so nice and friendly. While Fairbanks is by no means a small town, it does have that small town feel in that we run into people we know everywhere. I felt very comfortable and relaxed in Haines. We will definitely be going back.


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