The Old Romina
Mother worked for Jigs Goforth in his Soda Shop beside the Romina Theatre in Forest City. (It later became Bo’s Snack Shop, owned by Bo Sisk.) She would take me to work with her when I was a small baby, put me at the end of the counter in a box and customers would pick and play with me while she fixed their orders. She said the first word I spoke was “cherrymash”—Cherry Smash, a fountain drink of the time. This would be 1943-45.
Later in the early 1950’s mother would go to work at 7:00 a.m. and take me with her. I would wait until 7:30 and then walk to Forest City Elementary School. After school I walked back to town and waited on her to get off work at 4:00 p.m. and rode home with her.
The Snack Shop didn’t have a restroom, but they had a key to the theatre and employees would go to the restroom in there. (Of course, you would just have to hold it if you were busy with customers.) Also, cups, napkins, straws and other supplies for the Shop were stored in a room under the stage of the theater.
One of the small glass panes was missing in one of the double glass doors going into the theater lobby, but I was small enough to squeeze through and get inside without unlocking the door. Perishables were kept in small quantities in the Snack Shop. Bo kept larger quantities at his house or would run to the Forest City Packing Company or Dalton Paper or Forest City Ice Plant as needed.
My brothers David and Tim and I all took our turns working there as we got older. I worked as a curb hop about 1955-56 and remember bringing a big tray of burgers and drinks out to a bunch of guys in a ’47 Ford. The driver’s window was down about two inches and sometimes I would hook the curb tray on the window as the customer rolled it down. This driver was waving and hollering but I thought he was just joking with the rest of the group—well, the window glass fell out and dumped the whole tray in the driver’s lap. No tip!
On the other side of the theatre ticket booth was another store, Brit Hines Jewelry. Brit was married to Euzelia Spurlin, sister of Matthew Yates Spurlin of Cliffside, my father-in-law.
J.W. Griffin Sr. ran the theater and Mrs. Griffin sold tickets. She was a nice lady and I would dig sassafras roots for her to brew tea with. At one time you could pay for admission with nine Brock candy bar wrappers. (This was the beginning of dumpster diving.)
I remember going to a movie about 1947 and Joe Louis had just won a title fight that night and people were talking about hearing it on the radio. Blackie Allen worked there and would walk down the aisles with a flashlight and pop your feet if you had them propped up on the seat in front of you, and admonish any overly-romantic couples.
Posey Lynch was the projectionist. The week’s movies would come from Charlotte by Carolina Trailways bus in the morning and would be set out on the sidewalk in front of the theatre. I hung out around town while mother was working and Posey would give me a dime to help him carry the film canisters up to the projection booth—a lot of steps. Movies would be in reel cans with 3-4 reels in each can. (Posey had congestive heart failure and at the time got very winded climbing the steps. He didn’t know what ailed him. He died a few years later )
I was a street kid around town, and I went to the movies almost everytime the picture changed and to every Saturday matinee. Of course on Saturday I couldn’t miss one of the “continueds” that ran in serial episodes: Rocket Man, The Hurricane Express, Captain Midnight. Plus the features with Lash LaRue, The Durango Kid, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Red Ryder and Little Beaver, and, straight from the Melody Ranch, Gene Autry. Also the East Side Kids (or Bowery Boys) with Huntz Hall and Leo Gorcey, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Martin and Lewis and any war movie.
Across the street was the Grace Theater. I believe it had been called Horn’s and then later was named The Pastime.