Wednesday, June 26, 2013

50 Novembers

I think most everyone who can remember November 22, 1963 can pinpoint the place they were when they heard the news of President Kennedy's assassination.

I was in 10th grade, on my way to my civics class when the announcement came over the intercom. The halls were instantly silent, except for quiet weeping and shocked gasps. When I walked into my classroom, the teacher was sitting on his stool as usual at the front of the class, but this time he had a radio playing and a stunned look on his face. We listened to the radio and he did his best to console us. That year our class paper was to be on either the assassination or on some other subject that I don't remember -- I think all but one student wrote about Kennedy. I still have my report.

Like the day the space shuttle Challenger exploded and 9/11/01 when our world was forever changed, I will always remember the day Kennedy's life was cut short and where I was and how I felt.

Our local ABC station was the one that broadcast the news that day to the citizens of the Dallas area and it is now doing a series of news stories and videos that are behind the scenes looks at the history of that day -- then and now -- leading up to the 50 year anniversary. Although I didn't live in the Dallas area at the time of the assassination, I have lived here for about 35 years and so am very familiar with such landmarks as Dealey Plaza, the Texas School Book Depository (which houses the Sixth Floor Museum) and the Texas Theatre.

One day recently I was happy to see that the story was about the Texas Theatre (check it out, there's a great video!) -- and am proud to say that my son, Adam, is a partner with three others in the ownership of that theater.  

The Texas Theatre was first opened in 1931 in Oak Cliff (a Dallas suburb) and was part of a chain of theaters owned at one time by Howard Hughes. It was an upscale theater and the first with air-conditioning in the Dallas area.


It was also where Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested. 

Three rows up, five seats in

After a series of ups and downs and almost demolitions, the Oak Cliff Foundation purchased the building, did some renovations and offered it up for a permanent lease.  Enter Aviation Cinemas (the name is a nod to Howard Hughes) of which my son is a part -- which took over the lease and has done more renovations, turning the theater into a venue for art films, indie films, and blockbusters in 35 mm. No digital there! The Texas Theatre is old-school! They are helping to revive their area of Oak Cliff, focusing on the arts and participating in local happenings. Go here for some interesting facts on the theater!

Checking out the 35 mm film

The theater itself has become an enjoyable hangout for the artistic set with a bar where only vinyl albums are played on a funky little portable record player....

and walls where local art is displayed.

Art like crazy movie posters

Old cartoons are shown on the wall in the lobby. You can watch while you're enjoying a beer or cocktail and a visit with friendly folk.

A sea of red seats
There are 645 seats downstairs and there will be 300 to 350 more in the balcony when they get that opened. It was Dallas' largest theater when it was first built.

blankets are there for the patrons' use
(the theater gets cold!)

Sometimes you can play chess

Previous owners had walled over some of the great old architecture, but our guys scraped off what they could without jeopardizing the structure. Now there are "peep holes" that show the beautiful craftsmanship of old.

This shows the original stairs going to the balcony
Note the scroll work on the stair ends

If you would like to see videos and read more of the history surrounding that fateful day in Dallas, you can check out "JFK: Dallas, 50 Novembers." It's a pretty interesting read! I have bookmarked it so I can keep up with it if I miss one of the WFAA newscasts.

Please note: with the exception of the photos of Kennedy and Oswald, all of the photos were either taken by me on excursions to the theater, or from my TV as the story on the theater was aired.


---- For this week's music ----
 "Abraham, Martin and John" by Dion

sharing over at Miss Jenny's for Alphabe-Thursday where we are studying the letter F
and at Cottage Sweet Cottage for Rednesday

Jenny Matlock          Cottage Sweet Cottage



Tracy Cook said...

What a full post .loved it thank you

Kara said...

I was born in 63 and so I don't remember the assassination at all. Being from Boston and Irish though JFK has always been a part of my life. the theatre looks very interesting and a great historic and fun place to visit.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post! It's good to hear the theater is being preserved, not just as part of a tragic event in our nation's history, but as an institution in and of itself. I was not alive when Kennedy was shot but I do remember the Challenger explosion. I was nine and I was very shocked and upset by it. It doesn't seem like our passion for space exploration has ever fully recovered from it.

Christie Cottage said...

I was a very little girl when this happened, but I remember watching the funeral on TV. STrange early childhood memory.

Cool post. The theatre loos awesome!

Stopping by from Blogging Buddies


Gattina said...

I was 20 and with my mother shopping in a supermarket in Brussels, when suddenly the loudspeakers announced the tragedy. Even after so many years I still remember the silence and the shocked people's faces.

BeadedTail said...

What a great theater! Sounds like a fun place to visit and watch a movie! I wasn't alive when JFK was assassinated but I was in high school when the Challenger explosion happened and I remember everything about the moment I heard about it. Same with 9/11. It's amazing how certain events just freeze in time in our minds.

Carol L McKenna said...

What a great post ~ fascinating and love the theatre and what your son and partners have done ~ so creative ~ What part of a 2 local theatres that were restored ~ they are gems as is your son's ~

Thanks for visiting ^_^

Judie said...

I was pregnant with my first child, and was at work in a doctor's office when Kennedy was shot. I saw Jack Ruby shoot Oswald on television. Sarah, you did a lot of research on this. It is a wonderful post.

lissa said...

it's a tragedy. I will always think what the world, the U.S. that is, would have been like if Kennedy have lived. perhaps, many bad things would not have happened. guess, we'll never know.

great F post. hope you have a sweet day.

fredamans said...

I'm not American and not quite old enough to have been around when he died, however, that doesn't make it an event that doesn't matter to me. On the contrary. It is one of those times that etches everyone's soul, no matter where you live or when you are born. When you learn of JFK and his assassination, you can't help but bear tremendous compassion and empathy.
Thank you for sharing the photos of the theater. It really felt like a walk through time.

Lmkazmierczak said...

Glad the theater is being renovated. I remember listening to the radio at home while my mother stopped the washing machine to listen. My letter F:

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

How interesting! You did a great job with this post and brought back some memories. I love to learn something about history, too. Enjoy your week and thanks for visiting me today! Hugs!

Pam~ Virginia Retro said...

Great post! How wonderful that your son and his partners are saving it. I was in a school classroom and they turned on the PA system for us to hear the radio news.

Ann said...

I was sitting in my 5th grade Dramatics class and everyone just silently cried. I remember a 3-day National Mourning and watching that carriage clop clop down the street. Quite an endeavor for your Son.

Annesphamily said...

Sarah you did a wonderful job on this! I was in the 4th grade and we were on the playground. All the nuns were crying and it was one of the saddest days I do recall in my life. I thought the president was one of the finest men and I hate seeing him run into the ground today all these years later. He and Jackie did a wonderful job as parents and she raised those kids with grace and dignity. The other Kennedy children have had their share of legal troubles and drug woes but JFK and RFK were my childhood heroes. They really truly cared about the American people. In today's worlds that is no longer true. Thank you so much for sharing this. It made my day to read your words. Hugs Anne

storybeader said...

that's great the theatre has been brought back to life. Good for Aviation Cinemas! So many old buildings in downtown areas are just demolished with no thought to the future. I remember I was in grade school when Kennedy was assassinated. And I had just come home and my mom and the maid was standing stunned, watching the tv. {:-D

ImSoVintage said...

I was in eighth grade when it happened. Love the story about the theater. So glad it was saved. xo Laura

Debbie@Debbie-Dabble and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

What an interesting post!!

Thanks so much for stopping by!!


Pam Beers. said...

Wow! I know exactly where I was when I heard the news Of JFK's assassination over the radio.

Nothing has been the same since.

Great post.

2justByou said...

Wow! I learned so much with your post. Thanks so much for sharing all about the theater. =0)

Splendid Little Stars said...

I was a young kid in school when Kennedy was shot. so shocking! My mother was out of town. My Dad took my brother and me out to eat at a Chinese restaurant.
The Challenger blew up the day my family moved to a new city.
The theater is very interesting! I would surely visit often if it were any where near me! I wish them much, much success!

J said...

I, too, was in 10th grade - seated on a bench in gym class waiting my turn in a relay when the principal came on the PA and announced the news. That morning, in homeroom, I scrambled with my friends to find a daily "news item" to report in another class. We were randomly called upon to supply one. Someone said, "Well the president is in Dallas," and I thought, "Dallas?" as if it were such a wrong place for him to be. Everything about that day was surreal. And the next was a national day of mourning with no question that there'd be no school. Just our somber faces silently watching television.

Jenny said...

Yes, that fateful Friday will be remembered forever...

I'm sure your son has a lot of fun being part owner of The Texas Theatre..

There are so many fascinating things to find in your area!

Fantastic post for the letter "F"...

Thanks for linking.



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