In 1972, at the age of 15 with work permit in hand, I landed my first job at JF North Point Theater. Now, don’t get that mixed up with North Point Drive-In Theater—that’s another theater and another story.
The JF North Point Theater sat where Wal-mart currently sits at 2399 North Point Blvd. Do you remember that theater? When the JF North Point Theater was originally built, it was one big theater with a grand lobby.
My friend Teresa recommended me for a job there and I was lucky enough to get hired. Yeah, lucky is what I said, because most of the Baby Boomer generation realizes how lucky we were, and still are, to acquire and maintain jobs.
Teresa worked the ticket booth and I worked the concession stand.
We had a nice selection of candy and the ushers would haul in huge bags of popcorn. I dumped the popcorn into the display case, which warmed the popcorn, which was then scooped into your bag or bucket when you placed your order. Although there was a designated amount of pumps of butter per container, we weren’t limited in pleasing the customers with an extra pump or two.
I remember when we showed Disney’s Mary Poppins and Teresa dressed up in full Mary Poppins attire. She looked great! We made a big deal out of that movie, and we took great pride in our jobs.
After reconnecting with Teresa for this article, she jogged my memory with anecdotes from days gone by.
Teresa, remembering the North Point Theater days, reminded me that she made her Mary Poppins outfit entirely from scratch, including her hat from an aluminum pie pan. Let me tell you, that was some feat for a 16-year-old girl.
Teresa asked me, “Do you remember when your friends used to come to the movies and I would get the doorman to let them in?”
We reminisced about Mr. Wright (the manager), Mr. Floyd (the projectionist), the doorman and the ushers.
Mary Breeden, Teresa’s sister who worked there before Teresa and me, recalled her tenure there. “I used to work there in 1968-1971," she said. "I had to help promote a movie and dress up as an Indian princess. Mr. Wright was a lot of fun. He had Wayne Newton come there to promote a movie he was in and we all had to dress as cowgirls. ”
We took our jobs seriously, but there was always a great camaraderie among employees.
Teresa recalls that she willingly worked at other JF Theater locations when needed; The Strand (Shipping Place in Dundalk), The Vilma (on Belair Road) and The Carlton (corner of Dundalk and Holabird Avenues).
Speaking of The Carlton takes me to a momentous memory in 1976 when my boyfriend and I were on a double date with my brother Ed and his wife, Phyllis.
It was late 1976 when we went to see the newly released movie Carrie. In general, that movie kept you on the edge of your seat with a barrage of emotions. We weren’t numb to terror in those days. A simple innuendo in a movie was enough to keep you covered to your neck with your coat or cuddled up with your date for safety.
I felt really bad for Amy Irving’s character at the end of the movie, when she was sitting at the site of the house that Carrie willfully took down along with her mother and herself. That was the end. Or so I thought.
Then suddenly that hand came up from the grave to pull Sue Snell, Amy Irving’s character, down to the depths of hell with Carrie.
Well, that was it! It scared me so bad that I began to shake. As hard as I tried to hold back the tears it was all over. I burst into tears and cried uncontrollably. Ha! My brother, boyfriend and sister-in-law laughed so hard. I can still remember my brother Ed laughing.
I knew it was a movie, but it caught me so off guard and scared the bejesus out of me.
Movie theaters were part of a great social scene in my day. Fear didn’t have to be insane terror, slashing or grand special effects. It just had to be the illusion of what could be a dream, or a nightmare.
Today, I am afraid a great social scene has been lost with the closing of all the local movie theaters.
And let’s face it: At-home movie downloads, Netflix and Comcast “on-demand” movies aren’t the same as watching a 20-foot prom queen covered in blood on the big screen.