|BWS Stories - NABBW and GRAND Magazine Contests Winners|
NABBW and GRAND Magazine Contests Winners - THE PASCACK THEATER - Runner Up!
Priscilla Whitley lives in Danbury,CT and is a contributing writer to the Hersam Acorn Press, a Connecticut company with newspapers throughout the state, writing for their award winning supplement, The Home Section. She's been published in an anthology for teachers, parenting magazines, and through the years, various other magazines. She teaches classes on writing essays and magazine articles, and there's also a novel going through yet another rewrite. Priscilla has a daughter in Washington, DC, and when she can get her home, they love cooking together.
THE PASCACK THEATER - Runner Up!
I grew up with
my family in New Jersey.
When I was born, my grandfather, William Corbett, turned seventy-five years old.
At age eighty-three, he became the ticket taker at a gilded classic movie
theater, which then became my home on Saturday afternoon’s.
Mother saw in my
grandfather, and the theater, an ideal babysitter. He’d keep an eye on me, and
I’d watch movies all day.
Standing at the entry in a red jacket with gold plumes at one shoulder, a bow
tie at his neck, he took the tickets. A tall, ramrod straight gentleman,
slim with gray hair, the map of Ireland
was his face. Though not a man of means, he was always perfectly groomed. After
paying 25 cents for one’s ticket, he’d tear it in half, nodding you through the
door. I didn’t have to pay. It was like I owned the place.
Before the movie
started there’d be piano music piped throughout the theater. I thought only I
knew my grandfather played that old upright piano. Taking me by the hand he’d
walk me down to the hidden pit where the concealed piano stood. I’d sit
on the bench next to him, a small light illuminating the sheet music. There
I learned to recognize every piece of movie music, I think, written. “Tara’s Theme”, “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” and “I’m A
Yankee Doodle Dandy” are only some of the seemingly thousand of songs he knew,
and I don’t know where he learned them all. For such a quiet, reserved
man, playing in the dark unleashed a creative side he’d never show in public,
and sitting next to him, I became the most special person in the entire world.
In the theater, he’d sit me in the same place every week, three rows from back
in the middle. Being in the center of things, I felt this was my own
theater. Every so often he’d walk down the aisle with his flashlight,
scanning the crowd looking for possible improprieties. I know now he was
watching out for me, though he never let on.
Back then were
double features, plus cartoons, and a newsreel. Sometimes he’d sit with me,
especially for a comedy, bringing with him chocolate covered ice-cream,
Bon-Bons, one for me, one for him. Through his entire life, he never lost
his love of ice cream.
I liked it
there, by myself, being in the dark, looking up at the chandeliers and studying
the murals on the walls. It felt like a magical, golden palace, and I
became the princess and my grandfather, always the king. And I was never
After the movie ended, I’d help him clean the theater. We used a carpet sweeper
pushing it together, going in neat rows back and forth across the gold carpet.
Afterwards he’d walk me home, my hand in his. We’d talk about the movies,
or sometimes we’d be quiet. The tall, dignified man and the little girl in
pigtails. And for so many years, my best friend.