Thursday, December 1, 2011
The Forest Theater's Last Show
In many ways, Gary was the theater. He set the tone - a collegial, neighborly atmosphere where he soon remembered your name and maybe even your usual order at the candy counter.
Going to a movie at The Forest Theater meant you would automatically attend with friends, because people you knew were waiting to pay for a ticket with you, standing in line for popcorn and candy with you, and sitting in seats around you as a small child (who Gary had chosen from the concession line earlier) started the movie by pushing two buttons inside the theater office. When the ads for local businesses began showing on the screen, you remembered why the town now felt like a hometown.
• Driving by the theater during the day to remind myself of what would be playing there that night.
• Being able to enjoy a date night for less than $12, movie munchies included.
• Being able to walk to and from that date night so the magic lasted just a bit longer.
• Listening to the change machine and watching the 50-cent pieces roll down its slide after handing Gary $3 for a $2.50 admission.
• Sitting in the cry room with my infant son, wondering why all movie theaters didn't provide such a gracious spot to watch a movie with a restless or tired little tyke.
• Hearing Gary tell patrons with a large concession order how to carry the items so they won't spill.
• Hearing Gary caution patrons not to spill when it seemed he doubted their ability to carry items to their seats.
• Joking along with Gary every time he told me I owed him $40 or $50 for the $16 admission for our family entourage.
• Watching children and youth (mine included) fight for spots in the front row.
• Listening to the paper popcorn bags nearly drown the beginning sounds of movies with quiet opening scenes.
• Listening to Gary and Mark talk after the show about changes occurring in the movie industry because of the digital revolution.
• Watching my oldest son glide down to his spot in the front row as his wheelchair coasted into position, and then rhythmically push his tires when it was time to ascend the full length of the aisle's incline after credits had finished.
• Wondering what six movies would be on the next flyer to grace our family refrigerator.
Thanks for the memories, Cathy and Gary Compston. You missed taking a lot of vacations so we could escape for a few hours - week after week, month after month, year after year. May you enjoy each of those trips you have planned as a way to launch into retirement. You have left our community quite a legacy. I hope someone dares to step forward and carry that legacy into our community's future.
You will be missed.
You will not be forgotten.
Note: I hope the video helps you feel like you were there on the last night. I particularly enjoyed having Gary show off the projector room one last time as the last movie rolled. Seemed incredibly historic. With the advent of digital film, that machine will likely never roll a film again. I loved hearing the tick of the reels. Pretty poignant.