"Don't throw that out! It might be worth something some day!
I live with someone who utters those words any time I start complaining about the clutter that seems to multiply each year. The "worth somethings" that have escaped the donate or trash piles have not brought me financial freedom as of this writing, and don't appear to have the potential to EVER allow me to retire to some tropical environment without a care in the world.
So, what IS worth saving? Is it your mother's china or her mink coat? How about your grandfather's pocket watch? That vintage cookie jar fetching top dollar on Ebay?
For most of us, these items aren't filling our closets and storage spaces because of their monetary value - it's the emotional attachment we have that makes them valuable to us.
Movies sometimes have that power - to trigger an emotional reaction that reminds us of a thing...a time...a person.... something that means something to us.
To this day, I get a little anxious if I see a flock of birds gathering anywhere. Twelve birds on a power line in the grocery store parking lot? I'm pretty sure they'll be swooping down to peck my eyes out as I step out of the car. Thank you, Alfred Hitchcock, for The Birds, a movie that will forever alter the way I view the roosting habits of birds.
I'll never have ornate wallpaper in my bedroom, thanks to The Haunting. Come see it when we show it in October. You'll agree with me.
That's what we're about here at the Queen. We've got the movies. You bring the memories. That's what worth saving.
Last week, the Queen was privileged to recognize a couple celebrating their 67th wedding anniversary. Mercedes and Paula Lopez were treated to a showing of Roman Holiday, popcorn, drinks, flowers and Queen merchandise. The couple met at the Queen and the theater has become a part of their history, not so much for the movies they watched there, but for the "smooching" in the balcony, according to Mr. Lopez.
What a sweet story! We are happy to share the Queen once again with this couple. Do you have a story to share? We'd love to hear it.
-Sandy Farris, Executive Director
“Old theaters are irreplaceable. They could never be duplicated at today’s costs – but more importantly, their spirit could not be duplicated because they remind us of a day when going to the show was a more glorious and escapist experience. I think a town’s old theatres are the sanctuary of its dreams.”
Roger Ebert, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic
In September, 1945, James Frank Hyde and Annie Marie Watson exchanged more than 40 letters. He was in New Orleans, awaiting discharge from the Navy following his World War II service as a Seabee and she was working at the Fort Polk Army Base in Leesville, Louisiana.
The letters chronicled the daily lives of the young man and woman as the war came to an end. They also revealed a blossoming courtship between the two. Movies were mentioned frequently by both of them. Frank wrote of passing the hours by watching picture shows at the recreation center, and Marie often told Frank about going to the Vernon Theater to watch the show with her sisters.
At the same time, more than 400 miles to the east, the Palace, Queen and Dixie theaters in Bryan, Texas were busy showing many of the same movies Frank and Marie talked about in their letters. “Anchors Aweigh,” “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” and “A Song to Remember” played to audiences ready to celebrate and relax in the post-war era.
“Going to the show” continued to be the vernacular used by most folks into the 1970’s. In the small East Texas town I grew up in, going to the show was part of the ritual of growing up. Our movie house wasn’t fancy, but it was the place to be on a Friday night. My friends and I went to the show not so much to watch the movie, but to hold hands with our boyfriends, eat popcorn and dill pickles, and talk about everything and nothing.
Old theaters hold memories that become the stuff of stories passed along through the generations. The Queen has her share of stories, many of which we will share in the coming months. We’ve got stories of young love, wartime patriotism, shooting rats (I know you can’t wait for that one!) and much more.
Oh – those letters between Frank and Marie? I don’t think it’s coincidental that they talked about movies in them. It’s kind of fitting, since I now oversee a vintage movie theater and I knew Frank and Marie by other names – Mom and Dad.
See you at the Queen – we’ll help you write your story.
Sandy Farris - Executive Director
When father and son Abraham and Morris Schulman came to Bryan from Houston in 1926, they bought the moving picture businesses on Main Street: the Dixie, the Palace and the Queen. In those days, the movie theaters were generally located in a mixed-use building. The Queen's space was on the ground floor of what was originally a hotel, built in 1884.
Following a 1939 renovation by Edna Schulman, the Queen became a movie theater from top to bottom. It was touted as one of the finest theaters in this part of the state. Opening night, November 14, featured "Fifth Avenue Girl" starring Ginger Rogers.
Fast forward through the Queen's glory days and subsequent decline after closing in the late 1970's. Today, May 11, is another chance for our Queen to shine again in Downtown Bryan. As a nod to her past, we are showing "Fifth Avenue Girl" once again. We have a sold out house for tonight.
I hope Abraham, Morris, Bill and Edna are looking down on us tonight, and joining us as we say, Welcome Back Your Majesty! It's showtime!
Sandy Farris, Executive Director
“Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else.” - Fred Rogers
That quote from everybody's neighbor, Mr. Rogers, pretty well sums up the story of the Queen Theatre in Bryan, Texas. Most locals know the story by now - a once thriving movie house, fallen into disrepair and neglect, has been rescued and revived. Why is this story worth telling? I think I know. Bear with me while I tell a small story of my own.
I tried to become a collector of things – specifically, teapots. I have a teapot that belonged to my mother, so that was the genesis of my teapot collecting phase. My husband was happy when I decided to do this thing, because that made buying birthday and Christmas gifts much easier for him. My children would say, “What can we get Mom for her birthday?” “Get her a teapot. She collects them,” he would answer.
So, I got teapots. Lots of them, some of which were pretty and cool. I’d look at them and think, “Those look pretty cool,” but I felt no attraction to them. They didn’t register an emotional response in me, which is kind of a dumb expectation, now that I think about it. Then, my eyes would land on my mother’s teapot.
It wasn’t the prettiest of my collection, but my mother’s teapot never failed to trigger the memories…watching her pull the soggy teabags out of the steaming hot water, inhaling the smell that wafted around the room, seeing the dark brown stains at the bottom of the teapot once it was empty. There was a story around this teapot, one which resonated deeply in my memory.
I’ve always loved old things. Not just any old thing, but things with history, character and most importantly, a story. Coincidentally, I’m an old thing now, a fact I’ve finally accepted since the evidence relentlessly confronts me in the mirror each morning. Human things will eventually come to an end, as that is how this aging thing works. Other things, such as furniture, jewelry and houses, to name a few of my favorite things, just get older. Barring some disaster or getting thrown in the ocean, material things live much longer than humans. Some gain value; others just sit there, being old and no more attractive than the day they were created.
So, that’s a long introduction to why this blog exists on the Queen Theatre website. Stories are the things that bind us together. Things with no story may be functional, but they will never progress beyond their creation. Things with history, character and a story will remain long after we humans leave their presence. That is the essence of the Queen Theatre. She’s got certifiable, street cred history. Her character lies in her Art Deco styling. Her stories are oh-my-goodness-that’s-so-cool. This building has a story, and we’re hoping to make you part of it. Stick around. We're at the beginning of something else.
-Sandy Farris, Executive Director