It once was the Rex Theater, subsequently became The Chancelor Theater, and was a movie house in Irvington, New Jersey that I went to as a kid on Saturday afternoons with my friends.
It will always be the Rex to me and so that’s the way I will talk about it.
It was an innocent period of time. Mom’s and Dad’s didn’t worry about their kid’s spending the afternoon in the local movie house, they didn’t even worry about them walking to the theater, because home towns in those day’s were safe, strangers in my hometown behaved like family to each other.
It was a few years after the end of World War II and families were putting their lives back together. People seemed to care about each other and they didn’t make appointments to visit one another. Veterans were working their way back into society, trying to make something of themselves with the benefits of the GI Bill.
I used to walk to the Rex, which was about a mile from my house, with less than a dollar in my pocket.
A Saturday matinee cost about 50 cents, that left me with enough change for a box of Good & Plenty to nurse through two main features, the news and several cartoons.
There were about five employees working the movie house in those days, the person that sold the tickets, the one that ripped them in half and gave you half of the stub as you walked through the lobby with crystal chandeliers hanging over your head, the candy lady that sold me the Good & Plenty, the projector operator and, oh, that usher dressed to the nines like a head major leading a marching band, who kept control of we kids sitting in the front row right of the center isle.
Perhaps the owner of the theater was sitting in his office, periodically overseeing the operation.
Yes, it was a place we went to, to be entertained, and in those days to meet girls, and the girls went to meet boys.
There was no TV then, our fantasies played out on that screen with stories told by Hollywood, if not for that we only had the radio and the likes of shows that we had to imagine, like The Shadow, The FBI, and yes, Amos & Andy.
When World War II broke out some six years earlier when I was 7 years old, I was in that same theater with my parents only to find out when we left and went to my Grandmother’s house that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
The movies were meant to be fun, a place to get enjoyment and that’s why Hollywood created them and that’s the way audiences accepted them.
I reminiscent about the past as I remember the movies in those innocent times, and do so in sadness for the aberration, as they say, that took place today in Colorado when a crazed gunman took 12 lives and shot 71 persons who were at a movie theater to have fun and see a brand new version of ‘Batman.’
I can’t help but think of what has happened to the world’s culture, for this is the scene that is taking place on a global basis; is it really an aberration, it appears to be a common place happening?
Our nation’s leaders suggested hugging your kids tonight and reaching out to those that are hurting, those that lost loved ones, and to offer your prayers for the injured. Oh, we have enough common sense to do that and we reach out like every human being does. But how long does it last?
The politicians running during this presidential election year even suggested putting a moratorium on their respective negative ‘attack’ ads on each other. A moratorium on ‘attack’ ads? How about cutting them out? Isn’t that the very thing that gunman did in that theater — ‘attack?’ Isn’t that what killed 12 and shot 71?
Is that the result of a culture that has been created by the very irresponsible rhetoric created by a political culture that has gone toxic?
Might I suggest to our alleged leaders of today to reexamine the culture of yesterday to find out why it seemed to better then, than it is now?
You see there is nothing wrong with reexamining yesterday to recapture a culture that worked and incorporate it into a better tomorrow without ‘attacking’ your fellow man!