Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Plaza Theatre-beginning of Renovation

About four years ago, I took this photo; while I later saw the Plaza Theatre several times before the renovation began, one visit stood out above the rest.

Cynthia Farah-Haines was giving a presentation to the Historical Society about El Paso's theatres, which I had arranged. The last possible date was May because any time after that was much too hot—the Plaza had no functioning air conditioners. A reproduction Wurlitzer was delivered the day before and someone was going to play it for us.

Now, the society’s average member age must be around 70, and I was a bit worried they might have difficulties entering the building. However, any fears vanished as soon as I saw their reaction to the organ music. It was as if they were the children of Hamlin and the organist was the Pied Piper.

These children of The Great Depression slowly walked inside through a plywood door, which covered the original entrance. With canes, or arm-in-arm with their partners they cautiously walked along the long, open foyer with its red Spanish tile floor. They climbed a few stairs, and continued to an old concession stand. There, popcorn and red berry punch was set out for them. They chatted a bit about their youth and then they began walking into bowels of that ratty and dusty old theatre. Down the dimly lit aisle, and up to the front near the stage, they went. Looking around the near empty and cavernous palace, they saw their memories were safely stored away for them to retrieve that day.

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