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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 3, September 2018
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Patricia Prime
Auckland, New Zealand


Cinemas

spring matinee
the Wurlitzer organ
rises into applause

Growing up in London after the war years, I loved the local cinemas. The Central Hall, where patrons could order tea and cakes. The Mayfair, the first cinema I went to with my yet-to-be husband, where in the dark we held hands next to his Mum and Dad. The Vogue, so tiny we called it “the hole in the wall.” But my favourite was the Granada. Nothing could compare with the Granada’s cathedral-like opulence. Designed by Cecil Massey, the building had a towering, Modern Italianate entrance, with four pillars topped by Corinthian capitals. Queues formed before every performance, and a tall commissionaire, dressed in a blue uniform, cap, and white gloves, stood outside saying which seats were available. (Sometimes we children snuck in through an alleyway entrance, so we didn’t have to pay.) Inside, we climbed to the balcony, where the walls held a series of painted murals of medieval figures. From there, we saw cartoons and movies, live shows and concerts.

It was in the Granada that my sister, in a dress Mum made for her from an old curtain, performed Shirley Temple’s “On the Good Ship Lollipop” in a talent contest, winning first prize. We saw Frank Sinatra in his first U.K. performance. During Saturday matinees, we watched Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck cartoons, followed by Pathe Pictorial news and a serial that ended with yet another dilemma. After the interval came a film—Zorro, Batman, or Flash Gordon. Mum gave each of us a shilling to spend: sixpence for the cinema and sixpence for an ice cream during the interval, purchased from a lady who walked the aisles, carrying a tray and dressed in a short skirt.

Of course, this was all long before the Granada became a bingo hall, before the Mayfair became a Muslim-based school, before the Vogue became a Mothercare shop selling babyware. Before we all grew up, when in the dark of the cinema we met our friends and imagined ourselves as film stars.

cliffhanger
every week
a new guess

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