The world is in a continuous state of flux. The things that are here today have a tendency to be gone tomorrow. Nations rise and fall, babies are born and the elderly die, technology gets replaced by newer inventions. Even the mighty rivers can alter their course without a moment’s notice. Nothing, it seems, ever stays the same.
You can’t stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting.
This is a good thing, is it not? Things are supposed to change. If they didn’t, life would not only get stale and boring, but the quality of life would be lessened. There would be no advancement of technology, which means that we would never discover new ways to treat illnesses or find faster ways to communicate. Evolution is necessary for the survival of humanity.
So why do we hate and fear change so much? And why do we dwell on the past?
I was raised in the town of Gallipolis (pronounced gal-uh-pole-LEESE), Ohio. Don’t worry if you have never heard of it; most people haven’t. It is located along the Ohio River in the southeastern corner of the state, on the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, which also happens to be the most economically oppressed section of the Buckeye State as well. Gallipolis bears claim to the title of third oldest city in Ohio, and it has a bit of history, but it is most remembered as being the town on the other end of the Silver Bridge disaster, which was immortalized in the Richard Gere movie The Mothman Prophecies.
I love Gallipolis, and at the same time I hate it with a fiery passion. It was an ultra conservative town, and ultra conservative towns are not kind to the weird kids with big imaginations, outlandish dreams and second hand clothes. It was tough growing up, but there was one place I could always go to escape life for a while: The Colony Theater.
The Colony Theater was built in 1937 and to this day the original marquee still stands over the box office. It only played films that were long into their second run, but the cost of admission was around two to three dollars (maybe even a dollar fifty, time seems to have erased the actual amount from my memory) which was fairly affordable even to a child living below the poverty level. There was only one screen and one showtime per night (7:30), with the exception of an occasional double feature. Each film played for exactly one week unless it was a big seller. I believe Titanic ran for a full month.
Upon walking into the lobby you are greeted with the best smelling popcorn ever to indulge your nostrils. I have been to plenty of other theaters since and I have yet to come across a similar smell. The Esquire in Northside, Ohio comes close, but it still pales to The Colony’s corn. The lobby retained the old 30’s style, so maybe the popcorn poppers were vintage too, and that is why the smell and taste has not been duplicated by the fancy megaplexes of today.
In the back of the lobby there are two large and heavy wooden doors. These opened up into the theater, and instantly your eyes marveled at the magnificence. Everything was a deep maroon color, from the felt on the seats to the curtains bordering the screen. The exception to this was the mural on the left wall (or was it on both walls? Again my memory fails) which was all white, and featured a group of Greek men and women, naked save for the loose fitting robes that scarcely covered their bodies at all. Oh how those robes rippled in the wind…
I cannot recall every movie I saw in that theater, but I can remember quite a few of them. It was where I saw Star Wars: A New Hope on the silver screen (for more on that, see my first blog entry). The only movie my father ever took me to was there; that movie was called Willow, and I’m sure most of the readers on this site remember that one quite well. There was also White Men Can’t Jump, Independence Day, Grumpier Old Men, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (the last twenty minutes of that was in old school 3D, how exciting!), Ernest Scared Stupid, Twister, Blues Brothers 2000 and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, to name a few.
Unfortunately, we live in tough economic times. The Colony Theater closed its doors for good a few years ago, after an impressive seventy year run. The end was inevitable; I moved away from my hometown a decade ago, and even then it was struggling to survive. No more celluloid will flicker past the projection lens. The screen has gone forever dark.
Why should this bother me? I moved away ten years ago, and it is very unlikely that I would have ever sat down in one of those maroon seats again, with the salt from the world’s best popcorn lingering on my lips. My relationship with The Colony ended all those years ago; I shouldn’t care what happens to the theater.
And yet I do.
If nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased desire to return, the empty bones of The Colony Theater serve as a reminder that you can never go back. The past can never be reclaimed; it is but a ghost standing in the hallway, visible to the eye but impossible to touch.
The building that housed The Colony theater was purchased last year. From what I’ve heard, the new owners intend to repurpose the property but they haven’t disclosed what it will be. They said that they hope to keep the marquee if it is financially feasible. I hope they make it feasible.