The (Endless Screenings of) Sound of Music

I was recently searching through old movies to find something to stream online. I came across a listing for “The Sound of Music”. It evoked a very specific memory…
Photo Credit: Friends of the Westmont Theater, Inc.

Summer of 1965. I was 13 years old, feverish with the idea of being a teenager and all that I imagined that status would bestow on me.

I was a frequent visitor to my hometown movie theater, the Westmont Theater. I specialized in Saturday afternoon science fiction matinees, but at heart I was a generalist. Comedy, animated, horror. I went to a lot of movies.

I came to know some of the kids who worked there, and through them a couple of actual adults who ran the theater. All of which led to securing a coveted summer job at the movie theater.

A dream job! I would get to see all of the summer movies. For free! And I could see them multiple times, until a new movie arrived each weekend.

I was hired as an assistant — junior? — parking lot attendant. My job was to stand in the center lane of the parking lot, at the entrances to the rows of cars left and right. With flashlight in hand, I directed this car to turn right, that one to turn left. As the rows were filled, I backed up and started new rows.

Left. Right. Left. Right.

And then it was into the theater for the movie. I always missed the first ten minutes and the last ten. Except on slow nights like Monday and Tuesday. Not much traffic directing was required on those nights, so we would leave the parking lot early and cross the street to the theater in time to see the first scene.

Alas, my hope of seeing a slew of summer movies was not to be, dashed as it was on the rocks of popular culture. When I started, The Sound of Music was showing. When I went back to school that September, The Sound of Music was still showing.

To this day, I cringe when I hear “doe, a deer, a female deer…”

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