Kay memories: 9-cent ticket, dead dog, dead arm
Neighbor Grover sez he once took a job at as bakery because he kneaded dough. K ay Theater Foundation is applying for a grant to help fund the ongoing restoration of the 1947-vintage movie venue downtown. And they need some help from those of us long enough in the tooth to have memories of the Kay. Your memories will be part of the grant application.
So join in and help the effort if you can. You can email those memories to Geri Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following are a few memories I was able to fish up:
I was in junior-high school, 11 years old, when the Kay opened. Saw Saturday afternoon Westerns there regularly. Admission was 9 cents for kids age 12 and under and, I think, 25 cents after you turned 12. I turned 12 but continued to pay 9 cents for a few months, until my Dad gave me a lecture on "theft of services." So next Saturday, I plunked down the full amount and Mrs. Arrington, the proprietor, said: "Billy, are you 12 now?" She had a twinkle in her eye and I'm pretty sure she probably knew I'd been slacking on her for a while.
Another memory is the old black-and-white thriller The Thing which was, at the time, the scariest horror f lick ever made. The place was packed and during a tense scene when folks were searching for a monster in howling blizzard conditions, they carefully opened up a big cabinet and a dead dog fell out. People jumped out of their seats and screamed for at least a minute.
I guess The Thing would be mild by today's standards.
I also attempted to put my arm around a girl for the first time at the Kay. Don't remember if I was paying 9 cents or 25 cents at the time but I do remember that I wasn't tall enough for the maneuver and my arm went asleep—dead aching asleep.
When I attempted to move it I bonked the girl in the head with the sleeping limb. Can't remember who she was and probably never saw her again, by her design.
Mr. and Mrs. Foy Arrington were really nice folks. They had an "amateur hour" on Saturdays before the afternoon movie where kids would sing down at the front of the theater. I don't remember what the prizes were, probably movie passes, but a little guy named Billy Frank Davenport won that competition more often than not, belting out Frank Sinatra ballads. I remember being totally blown away by anyone who could stand up in front of people and carry a tune, a talent which to this day eludes me.
My hat is off to the Kay Theater Foundation volunteers. They're doing a wonderful job of restoration and renovation as funds permit, and one of these days the Kay is going to be great performing arts venue and community events facility.
Also, you can help the effort this Saturday morning by participating in the annual "5-Kay Run/Walk/Un-run" fund-raiser at the Kay. Details of that event can be found in a front-page story this week. Entry blanks can be downloaded from our web site, www.rockdalereporter.com. See you there.