Did it matter what was showing at our movie palace, just a block and half from the harbor? The streets outside the St. George Theatre were flooded with people, but they were all headed downhill towards the water. The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea happened to be the movie we’d just rented from Avco Films, but it would be an expensive waste to burn the carbons and light our projectors. Despite the fact that we had to pay the projectionist for a shift, there was no use showing anything till nightfall.
Entrepreneurs are a desperate species: under the misguided notion that people on their way to the nation’s party might want some popcorn or a hotdog, we got out the ladder and switched the aluminum letters on the marquee to read “Happy Birthday, America! Concession Stand Open.” For our trouble we sold about eight dollars worth of food the whole afternoon.
Well why not join the party? The roof of the St. George Theater has an unobstructed view of the harbor. How Dean and I got there is a long scary story I’m saving for the release of the full book, Starts Wednesday: Coming of Age in a Movie Palace — too complicated for the space I have here. Suffice it to say we stayed about an hour on the roof, enjoying the great sweep of the harbor, so thick with vessels you could barely see the water.
Night was coming and we’d decided to burn a few carbons for the evening, in the hopes that somebody, anybody, would buy tickets to watch The Sailor Who Fell From Grace.... A skeleton staff, including other loyal members of management were keeping watch downstairs. As we descended, our audience — a handful of drunken partiers forgetful of fireworks — staggered in to snooze in the dark.
No one had thought to change the marquee letters, and a woman walked up to the box office to inquire “Who’s in Concession Stand Open?” I helped myself to a Sabrett’s hot dog with dijon mustard on an Italian roll, free dinner.