I am sitting in the mezzanine of the theater the marquee above is attached to, waiting for an 8 pm film. I just took that photo, as the downtown trolley was clanging its bell, about to head over the mile or so to the Boardwalk. The one – way fare is 25 cents.
The Del Mar is an elderly theater, built in 1936, and continually in operation, save a handful of years in the 1990’s. Originally, it had one large auditorium with a balcony and, of course, the mezzanine I am in presently ensconced in, in a big leather club chair and ottoman, not a bit less comfortable than my own at home.
Downstairs, the popcorn machine has worked itself into a frenzied fireworks finale, the smell wafting up and around like the fog that is creeping in outside. I cannot resist it’s siren call, and know I will eventually succumb to its (real) buttery goodness. I close my eyes and am transported to the days of youth, a simple time of 50 cent weekly allowances- if we completed all of our chores. And we had chores, and plenty of them! One weeks’ allowance was sufficient to see the movie; 2 weeks’ worth got us popcorn and a coke as well. And they were double-features, with cartoons! I recently went to two movies in a row, and realized that my comfort level sitting in what was once a seat I could stay in all day had waned – considerably.
I go to the window and look to the street below, not as populated as awhile ago, when I came in. The marquee is now illuminated in the wonderful neon we used to see, before the single lit sign that most theaters boast now. It harkens back memories of days gone by.
The ladies room is down maybe eight stairs, where there is a landing, and an equal number of stairs going up to a small auditorium that is half of what once was the balcony. They have these on each end of the mezzanine, that is open to the lobby below.
The sign itself, like the rest of the theater, is in the Art Deco style of its time.
Besides the wonderful architectural detail within the large auditorium on the main floor, which is replete with large gold stylized women’s statues on either side of the screen, and other period items, the ceiling over the lobby is spectacular, all concrete plaster, and colorfully carved detail,
I see it’s nearly time to go in to see “The Giver,” which I am hoping is better than I’m feeling it will be, so I visit the Ladies Lounge. It’s amusing to me that a building from even 1936 would have stall door height of around four and a half feet in height- as well as the partitions between! I happen to be a tall lady, but even with one of average height, they could easily see over the tile dividers. There is the mosaic black and white tiny tiled floor and the stall doors are painted the celadon green color of the period, the white four-inch square tiled dividers decoratively outlined in the same color.
I am relieved – or should I say my long frame is relieved that no one is inside, and I don’t have to contort myself so as to not appear a voyeur!
Outside of the Ladies room is a Ladies Lounge. There is a chaise lounge of the period, a sofa, tables, lamps, and a couple of chairs. It was not unimaginable that in those days of less-rushed, pre-cell phones and social media, women would sit and talk, perhaps smoke a cigarette in such a lounge.
I’m about to go into the movie, and I feel renewed. I have allowed myself the extra hour to spend in yesteryear. To relive some wonderful childhood memories of my double-feature days that came quickly to mind. Perhaps it was the ghosts traveling in on the wisps of fog from long-gone times.
And it was like going home again.