Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happy Birthday Star Wars!

Walking in the rain so often recently I suppose it was inevitable that I'd eventually catch a cold, and so I have. Nevertheless, that shouldn't stop me from commemorating this most special of days (following immediately after by taking NyQuil and going right to sleep...hopefully).

Today we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the release of Star Wars, the first film in the blockbuster franchise known today as Episode IV: A New Hope.

Here is my opening day Star Wars story...

...or...ya'know, 40 years ago in Brooklyn, New York...

On Tuesday, May 24th, 1977, at the age of 8, I went with my Mom, and younger sister into Blondie's, a Luncheonette in Brooklyn not far from our apartment building. I saw on the racks of magazines a comic book from Marvel called 'Star Wars'.

My Mom bought it for me, and later that day she surprised me by telling me that Star Wars was a new motion picture coming out the next day, and that we (my immediate family) were all going to go see it.

On May 25th my father drove us to the Nostrand Theater, the movie theater managed by my grandfather, whom we called 'Pop'. The lot of us consisted of my Mom, my Dad, my sister (only three at the time), my Grandma, and myself. 

The lights dimmed. The film began. The music swelled. My mind was blown.

After the movie my father (a police officer) went off to work. My mother, grandmother, and sister were going clothing, and household shopping and planned to take me along.

"Can I stay at the theater today and help Pop?" I asked (OK pleaded). 

There was some mild protesting - Pop would be too busy to watch me, and I was only 8. 

"Oh let the kid stay," Pop replied, "he can sweep up, help the ushers, and even help out at the concession stand."

Honestly, I loved doing that. Whenever my grandparents babysat I always hoped I would get dropped off at whichever theater Pop was managing so I could pretend I worked there.

My Mom said it was OK, and I immediately went to help clean up the theater before the next showing. After sweeping up, I assisted people to their seats (remember when ushers did that?). Afterwards, I asked the lady at the concession stand (who knew who I was) if I could have some popcorn, and she gladly gave me a medium. I thanked her, and headed right back in the theater.

I watched the film again. I repeated this entire process three more times. Yep, you read that correctly. I saw Star Wars five times on its opening day. For free.

One of my favorite memories, and the start of a long standing love affair with that galaxy long ago, and far, far away. 

Happy Birthday Star Wars!!!

May The Force Be With You All!

Barking Alien


  1. I'm roughly the same age as you and Star Wars was a biggie for me too.The movie might have been out for 5 or 6 months before I saw it with my family. Hard to believe that now a movie in the theater for months one end today is strange, STar Wars was on the big screen for over 2 years straight going through the big cinemas to the cheapies and the showing up again as a release in the big places and then again in the second run places.
    There was a cinema in the city I lived in that had foreign language matinees and they were insanely cheap. I saw Star Wars in Greek after seeing it in english thanks to that, not that I spoke greek but it was Star Wars for under $1.00 for kids.

    1. Wow. Great story JD. It's really incredible to think that Star Wars initially opened in only 32 theaters in the entire United States!

      My Pop (grandpa) was a movie theater manager, and in those days the big studios didn't own the theaters. Instead, film studios like 20th Century Fox, and Paramount had to go to presentations and sell the theater on why they should carry a given movie.

      My Pop told me that at the managers meeting for Star Wars, all the other theater runners turned it down. My Pop said he would take it as he had two grandsons (myself and my cousin) who loved that kind of stuff. Plus, he had one or two schools near the theater. Disney movies did well, so he figured a Sci-Fi action movie would do well. He was right of course. ;)

      Managers received a bonus back then based on how well the movie did, since it was their discussion which film they showed. My Pop had a real knack for picking winners and did well that year.