I definitely have fond childhood summer memories of summertime. It’s just that I loved school and didn’t want to take the summer off! My birthday falls in late June so I was disappointed I never got to have a class party. My mom let me throw a pool party, which almost made up for it! Most of my friends from school, the neighborhood, and the horse stables came to my pool parties so there were kids of all ages—even on an island a pool was a big attraction. One memorable summer was the year I turned ten and chose $100 for ten horseback riding lessons in lieu of any other presents. It was a hot sweaty summer, I fell off more often than I stayed on, but by golly I got back up in the saddle every time and paid to ride again the next week!
As an adult, summertime has not been my favorite season here in Florida—I’m a homebody June through September. I really like my air-conditioned space and air that doesn’t feel like I’m breathing water. Most of my jobs as a teen and young adult were outside working with animals either at the Humane Society or a horse farm. I’ve learned hot sweaty work really is best suited to folks younger than me! After Jeff and I were parents we needed a second income more than ever and I landed a part-time air-conditioned job in the summer of ’86 at our new sixplex movie theatre built by Litchfield Theatres. I was in heaven—an extra perk was going to the movies for free!
I worked weekends and a few eves as a concession stand attendant who disliked popcorn and candy but was really convincing at ‘up selling’ and delivering fast friendly service. My manager desperately needed help on weekday summer mornings but I explained that my husband worked and my daughter was six months old and I couldn’t afford daycare. Awesome role model that she was, this single, childless, workingwoman didn’t hesitate she said, “Bring her; I’ll take her upstairs with me.”
That summer I sold hundreds of kiddie popcorns and drinks while Brin sat strapped in her car seat and watched my manager thread movie projectors and play the films. I quickly moved up the ranks and was an assistant manager within a year and manager after another year. I earned a considerable income for on the job training and an incomplete college degree—I could even afford childcare!
Most of all I loved what I did, and summer was my favorite time of year. We were swamped, the pace was insane, my staff was the absolute best—I truly adored them and they gave it their all. We had such a good time and our patrons were smiling and happy with their movie going experience 99% of the time. I learned to move at the speed of light and be in three places at the same time, keep crowds of people entertained while they waited: for tickets, for popcorn, and then to file into the dark, cool, curtained wonderland.
I overcame my shyness and excelled at communicating and connecting with both patrons and employees. Most movie goers came to have a good time—with their family, on a date, with friends, or simply to get away for a few hours. It was a feel good atmosphere and it gave me an excellent foundation for the lesson of being of service and giving back even more than I received. I developed my creative and promotional talents by arranging fun movie tie-ins with other businesses; blood drives for vampire films. For Total Recall we built a walk through futuristic memory maze; for Road House we recreated a bar in the lobby complete with pool table!
We played Top Gun for almost nine months! And several sleepers like Dirty Dancing and Ghost caught us unprepared for the crowds they brought in, but we always rose to the challenge! If summer means movies and popcorn to you then this list may bring back fond memories. I’ll see you this summer…at the movies!
The Numbers (A resource for box office data, movie stars, idle speculation)
- Top Gun 1986
- Dirty Dancing 1987
- Big & Who Framed Roger Rabbit 1988
- Batman 1989
- Ghost 1990
- T2 1991
- A League of Their Own 1992
- Jurassic Park 1993
- Lion King & Forrest Gump 1994