“Is it possible for me to see the manager?”
“You’re lookin’ at him,” Dean quipped.
They were instant friends.
“I’m a projectionist,” the stranger offered.
“We already have two, one worse than the other...” Dean replied. “The union gets to pick them...”
“Well, said the man, rising to his full height, “I’m a union projectionist too, the Chief Projectionist at Radio City Music Hall, as a matter of fact.”
(Radio City, the palace of all movie palaces. We referred to it as “high church.” Now here was the Bishop!)
“My name is Robert Endres,” the stranger continued, offering his hand through the bars. “All I want to do is look at your theater. I admire old theaters — collect them in my head...”
By this time, I’d closed the poster case and was standing next to a new friend. After a round of introductions, Dean called for somebody to staff the box office, and we joined Bob for a tour of our 2672-seat palace, a little less than half the size of the theater he called home.
From time to time in the scatter-shot year we occupied the St. George, Bob would come to visit us a few times, managing — to our mutual delight — to take a fill-in shift for one of our projectionists. Bob used white gloves to handle film: most of the projectionists we’d suffered to pay barely washed their hands.
Over the thirty-nine years that have passed since we ran the theater, we lost track of Bob, but, thanks to the remarkable coincidence of a mutual dentist on the Upper West Side, we’re friends again with the world’s most fastidious projectionist.
“We’re a vanishing breed,” Bob says, by which he doesn’t mean fastidious projectionists, but all projectionists.
As meticulous about the detail he finds in a person’s blog as he has always been about running a booth, Bob recently pointed out a major flaw in one of my earlier posts. If you’re interested in an explanation of what we actually had in the booth (not Strong Mogul Carbon Arcs, as I had thought, but Century/Ashcraft), go to “The Magic Cave” (7/22/2014), where you’ll find my friend’s authentic description of the working aspects of that booth — the tiny room that sat atop our theater world — almost forty years ago. I was wrong, and I stand delightfully corrected! He oughta know — he lit the carbons that shone the light.