It was magic – giants floating – speaking, living, dying even singing and dancing. Earliest I can remember is being taken to the Kingsway Theater, my mother holding my hand tight, as we waited on line to go in and see, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
It says the movie came out in 1969 but I believe we saw it a bit later on – maybe 1973 or so. I remember falling in love with Katherine Ross and her smile. Paul Newman riding a bicycle with her on front with her hair blowing and both of them smiling.
I remember wanting to be like Butch and Sundance despite the fact that they were the bad guys. In the movie they were the cool guys. Movies have ways of doing that you know? Don Corleone, Michael Corleone, Butch and the kid, and so many more bad guys who we actually root for to win.
I remember the theater pretty well. You paid for the tickets in one of the booths – one on the left side of the entrance and the other on the right side. Then you would walk in through big doors and find yourself in a lobby with posters of upcoming movies within glass frames. The usher would stand or sit behind a sort of a tall desk and take the ticket, tear it at and give you the other end. You would then walk through those doors and directly ahead of you – against the wall was where you would buy popcorn. I can tell you the pop corn was delicious and they don’t make it like that anymore – but I would be full of it – I honestly don’t remember.
I do remember two sets of doors on both sides of the popcorn counter – and the stairs leading to the balcony on each side of the entrance. We would end up in the balcony if there were no seats or the movie was boring and we wanted to cause problems. Throwing pop corn at people sitting below – or holding hands on a date both of our hands sweating in anticipation.
I remember one Friday when Rocky III came out in 1982 – our whole grade snuck out of school a little early and ended up at the Kingsway Theater to see Rocky take on Mr. T. I just remember a group of around 20 or 25 kids walking up Kings Highway trying to be inconspicuous – but failing none-the less.
This was the main theater (we wont mention that other place on east 7th St) and going to the movies was an event – and the audience would really get into it. We would sit through a movie twice sometimes – “Excalibur”, “The Bad News Bears,” “The Exorcist,”Jaws,” so many movies – we would all gasp and scream, cheer and sing along – am I romanticizing this or was it true? I think its a combination – all I know is we would make sure to put on tenax and our best shirts.
The hangout was the second floor – even if they closed it sometimes during off-hours. We would end up there and sit around and talk, talk, talk. There was a telephone booth there – I just remembered this – right by the Men’s bathroom. We dial 411 and ask for the number of Al Coholic or Sam Busak – for some reason they never caught on or just played along.
What are your memories of the Kingsway theater or other movie theaters in our area? The Highway, Avalon, Mayfair, The Marlboro (that was a big one!) and so many more.
Maybe its the safety of the past that lures us back there again and again. Maybe its the complexity of our lives today – there is no down time and whatever time there is simply flies on past us before we can even look up. I am a romantic and I like to remember the past as something that springs us towards our future. Our past wasn’t always so pristine and so innocent or free from hardships. But as we get older it comforts us to focus on those good times and the camaraderie we shared. Our days when we walked along Kings Highway across Ocean Parkway, passed the Te-amo’s and the mom and pop stores towards Field Brothers and Crazy Eddies. Across the street from there on the corner of Kings Highway and Coney Island Avenue – I choose to remember a beautiful movie house where we all shared good times and some great popcorn.