Which leads me to Facebook, which, in its well-intentioned way, suggested recently that I friend one Paul Plonski, an aircraft engineer and former Staten Islander — an odd bit of serendipity, since, for the last two New Years, I’ve reprised a chunk of an email Paul (we called him Paulie back then) wrote me, a memory of New Years Eve, Dec. 31, 1976. He worked the candy stand as a teenager, while I froze at the box office, waiting to see if anyone would come through the theater’s red and gold doors that preternaturally cold night. After the last show, we darkened the house, closed down the box office and locked the concession stand door, threw the giant breakers to power down the marquee, bolted the glass doors and wished everybody well in the coming new year, 1977. Paulie jumped into his car, parked just below the marquee, and a few of us straggled up the hill towards home.
...We had a late show at the St. George. You and Dean made sure to get us out of the theater before midnight so we could make it home in time.
My ‘68 Pontiac Firebird was parked on Hyatt Street, right in front of the theater. At around 11:30 I got in, started the car, but could not get it into gear. So...at midnight I was on the hill, waiting for a tow truck, the cold wind blowing. I was freezing.
Quiet, except for the wind. Then at the stroke of midnight, the ships in the harbor sounded their whistles and shot off fireworks. It was just me, the wind and the ships with the NYC skyline, a night to cherish forever.
PS: The New Years party was still raging when I made it home (nothing missed).
Privation, exhilaration. These fit my overall experience of running the theater in 1976 and the first few months of 1977. It was going to be a cold cold winter; we’d be out, broke, by spring. But the theater, while it lasted, was itself a kind of fireworks, a lit spark I try to keep going, in these blog posts. Thanks again, Paulie!
Peace in the New Year everybody.