In the March 8 issue of the Signal Tribune, a photo of the Crest Theatre in Long Beach elicited several responses from readers. Among the letters that we received was a letter from reader Karen (who did not give a last name or city) writing in to tell about her experience working at the Crest during a six month run of “The Sound of Music,” and a letter from Gary Weinberger of Signal Hill who had fond memories of Mr. Francis, the theatre’s manager. Stephen Schepeler of Los Angeles read the letters and had these warm thoughts to add:
I also worked at the Crest Theatre 40 years ago as an usher during the showing of “The Sound of Music,” as did Karen of your article. I also worked during the showing of Disney’s “Jungle Book.”
Growing up in Bixby Knolls in Long Beach during the 1950s and 1960s, of course I patronized the Crest Theatre as well as the Towne Theatre-both on Atlantic Avenue. My friend Roy also lived just around the corner from my house on Olive Avenue.
Mr. Francis was kind enough to hire me as a ticket taker, concession sales and as an usher. I remember Mr. Francis well. He had a white 1957 Thunderbird that I am sure many of my age would give their left leg for today. As I understand it, he sold it to a son for $1. As always, it’s who you know.
But Mr. Francis was well known to a lot of us kids and he was interested enough to give us a shot at employment—as well as keep us out of mischief.
For example, he was smart enough not to chide us for eating the popcorn behind the concession stand; he knew we would get sick and tired of it soon enough. As we did!
I also remember those long lines of patrons waiting to see the show. Imagine any movie showing today for six months!
But the Crest was a beautiful theatre with the sunken lobby area behind the concession stand, the upper balcony seating, the curved entrances to either side of the seating areas, the heavy drapes in the theatre itself. What a great place for a kid or the family to go to the movies.
Somewhere I have a picture of myself in my blue uniform that we were required to wear. Had to get a couple of new white shirts as I remember. When was the last time you went to the movies with employees dressed in an actual uniform?
I wonder if I would remember this “Karen” who also responded to your newspaper as having worked during the showing of “The Sound of Music?”
Since 1973 I have lived in Denver, Colo., have been married for 23 years, have three adult children and two grandkids. Every now and then I remember my time at the Crest.
So, have you gotten many responses from those former employees of the Crest Theater? Would love to hear that you had. It is truly a small world.