The Old Allison Theatre

4 08 2011

The Old Allison Theatre - Showing Quality Entertainment Like "The Bellboy" with Jerry Lewis, No "Dr. Zhivago" for us....:-)

Don’t you just hate it when folks send you an email, a personal email sharing some of their thoughts or experiences, funny ones that is and then some jerk like me uses them in a story in his own blog and then doesn’t even credit the person who sent the email with the memories in the first place?  Me too, that’s why I’m going to relate to you some stories about the old Allison Theatre in Piedmont, Alabama today that are mine and mine alone and some other day I’ll share those from other folks with you..You see like my mother, God Bless her, I don’t throw NOTHING away……:-) I got the first email I ever got when I got online in 1994. It was from a professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University, Israel Finkelstein. Some kids had heroes like Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose, Whitey Ford, Denny McClain, Joe Namath, Leroy Jordan or Engelberg Humperdink but me? Paul From Alabama, my hero was a Professor of Archeology of Ancient Israel, Israel Finkelstein…..You got your heroes, I got mine, so quit laughing fellow gardeners, its beneath you……:-)

OK again I’ve forgotten what I was talking about oh yeah, the old Allison Theatre. Now it was one of those old time “walk in” theaters with only “one” screen, “one’ bathroom per gender.  Folks didn’t know what unisex was back then but of course I did, it’s when a man wear women’s underwear, you know he’s a unisex kinda guy…….:-) Well so much for gender and now more of the Allison Theatre and all the characters that used to frequent that establishment, myself of course I put at the head of the list. When it comes to being a character I have no peer unless it was Skeet Grissom or Napoleon Bailey. Napoleon Bailey, he wasn’t any relation to Napoleon Bonaparte no matter you heard before, he wasn’t even French Napoleon Bailey wasn’t, he was from down near the Mill Village……:-)

“For God’s sake Paul From Alabama, you going to tell us about the old Allison Theatre or aren’t you?” Don’t get your panties in a wad fellow gardeners or your unisex “drawers” either…..I’m getting ready to start my little story right now. Ready, set, go……..

Now the Allison theater, when I knew it, was owned by Arnold Woolf and the cast of characters who were ushers or bouncers or strong arm men who kept the kids from burning down the theater on Friday nights or Saturdays was like a whose who of Piedmont. Doug P., who had the prettiest hair since Elvis. If Elvis had had Doug P.’s hair he’d have really been a big star…….:-) Now Doug P. always brought his date for the evening to the theater with him. Now I’m talking about 1955 till it closed in the late sixties I guess or early seventies.. And his date whoever she was for that particular evening all had one thing in common, THE BIGGEST HAIR YOU HAVE EVER SEEN IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE……:-) They were always good looking, don’t get me wrong but what hair on them gals…….:-) Now Archie R. was another usher I remember vividly, he was OK, as long as you didn’t have any explosives with you and were planning on setting them off in the theater, well Archie didn’t care what you did……;-) His policy was live and let live, you do what you want and I’ll set in the back of the show and sleep……:-) I mean fellow gardeners how many times can you watch “Beach Blanket Bingo” without wanting to kill somebody…….:-) Now last but not least was Cecil P, he later became a Piedmont policeman, so his experience as an usher at the Allison Theatre was good training for him in such things as ‘crowd control’, ‘shop lifting’ in this case stealing popcorn from folks who left there’s in the seat when they went to the “restrooms” and keeping riff raff out of town like the riff raff he’d try to keep out of the theater when he was an usher at the Allison Theatre. I always wanted to become riff raff myself but my granny kept so a close watch on me it was years later before I could aspire to be riff raff but finally I made it…:-) OK so much for the ushers at the Allison Theatre….

Now another thing they had at the Allison Theatre that I just loved was a wooden marquee billboard kind of thing that had coming attractions on it and on the back side of it a place to prop one of your feet on and stand behind it and take in all the sights and sounds of another day at the Allison Theatre. When I had my hair like Elvis’ back in 1959-62 or so I hungout with the older guys in front of the old Allison Theatre with my foot propped up on the back of the marquee billboard. Now one particular day I was standing out there with this other guy who was way older than me and he was right out of  James Dean movie too. Me and him stood out there I bet for 4 hours just staring at cars going by and kids coming in and out of the theatre. Now when these two really nice looking girls came in walking together arm in arm well I just had to comment on how sexy they looked with their tight sweaters and skin tight peddle pushers on…..That was the first thing I’d been brave enough to say in the last 4 hours and as luck would have it, my luck that is, right after I made that comment about those girls as they walked into the theater this guy with arms like ArnoldSchwarzenegger and hair like Bobby Darin says to me and I quote, “that’s my sisters you’re talking about feller, and if I was my little brother Benny, I’d knock your teeth out but I reckon you didn’t know who they were so just keep your mouth shut about my sisters and we’ll get along fine”……:-) Well fellow gardeners we did get along fine from then on cause I never opened my mouth up the rest of the day and that was the last time I stood in front of the “show” (the Old Allison Theatre) with my foot or any other appendage of mine propped up anywheres……:-) From then on, well for awhile anyways I just sat down inside and watched the movie……:-)

OK one more memory of those “sexy” girls……About two weeks later they both sat right behind me in the show and one of them leaned over and asked me if I wanted to sit with them, can you believe my good luck fellow gardeners? I knew exactly what I was going to do right away, I smiled at them and said, “thanks but no thanks I got to get me something to drink” and I got up and hung out in the lobby till the movie was nearly over, ain’t no way I was going to ever sit, stand or even touch one of them girls with their brother still on the loose keeping an eye on me and his other brother Benny who was going to knock out my teeth as soon as he found out how sexy I thought his sisters were……..:-) Oh well so much for love…….:-)

Another thing about the “show” was the restrooms. Now I say “restrooms” but anybody who “rested” there was either a masochist or a psycho, not only did it smell to high heaven, it kinda reminded me of the barn they used to keep the milk cows in on the kibbutz (farm) I lived on in Israel. Now the “gentleman” who hung out there in the men’s “restroom” were about as scary as the monsters on the movie screen were downstairs……I remember this one “gentleman” Eugene, he was credit to the human race if ever there was one and I’m sure some folks thought I was too, a credit to the human race, but nevertheless I always thought whatever I was, whatever I did I was sure ahead of the game compared to Eugene. You see Eugene was about as mean as anyone I ever run into. And I’ve run into my share of not so nice folks in my travels, but nobody compared to Eugene….and whenever I had to go use the “urinals” at the Allison Theatre,  one thing you could always count on, Eugene would be in the “restroom” harassing some kid trying to pee. If I couldn’t “hold” it in anymore I’d have to go up stairs to the “restroom” and run the gauntlet of Eugene and a few other characters who always had knives hanging out of their back pockets, a sure sign that you wanted to walk as quick as possible past those “gentleman” do your “business” and get the hell out of there…….:-) Excuse my language fellow gardeners but if you seen those guys I saw up there all the time you’d use worse language than that…:-)

Now about the sweetheart of the place, Nettie Woolf, she ran the concession stand and if there was a sweeter somebody ever, well I never ran into her. Nettie would fill your box of popcorn to overflowing every time and always kept fresh popcorn in the machine going all the time. I ate so many Babe Ruth candy bars from the concession stand there that it’s a wonder I got any teeth left in my head…..And Nettie, if you didn’t have enough money she’d give it to you anyways and you’d pay her “next”time…..I know she must have spent a fortune buying kids who had no money something to eat cause maybe it took all they had just to go to the movies even when it was 10 cent for a show. Imagine that fellow gardeners, 10 cents to see a movie, 10 cents to sit and be entertained all day long. Cartoons, a short subject and the movie, most times a double feature. My favorite movie of all time was a  3-D scary movie called  “13 Ghosts”. Lord I loved that movie, I still got them 3-D glasses around here somewheres, like my mother I don’t throw away anything either…..:-)

I saw enough Bible classic movies there over the years that I feel like I know Samson, Delilah, David and Bathsheba and Moses personally and we are on first name basis…..:-) I saw Frankie Avalon nearly kiss Annette Funicello so many times I got to feeling sorry for Frankie. I don’t think they ever “consummated” their relationship before they got married, in fact I doubt they ever “consummated” their relationship after they were married…..:-) Frankie’s love luck was so bad on screen, I can only imagine how bad it must have been in “real” life…..;-)

I saw so many Elvis movies there so many times I got thinking I could sing and play the guitar too……:-) Now my favorites were monster movies on Saturday. Godzilla, Rodan, you name it, it showed at the Allison Theatre. If any of them monsters had ever gotten loose in Piedmont, well it would have been the worst thing to happen to Piedmont since Urban Renewal……:-) And one more thing before I forget it. The night we snuck in jars of lightning bugs into the show and let them loose in the theater during a movie. It was one of the highlights of my criminal career and one of the things I’m most proud of….:-) Fellow gardeners, if you’d seen them lightning bugs flying in front of the screen, like trails of rockets flying through the air. Like an artillery bombardment from the First World War…..It was a day I’ll never forget, a day to quote President Roosevelt, “a day that live in infamy forever”……:-)

Paul From Alabama


For those of you who remember the old Allison Theatre in Piedmont or even a small town theater in your hometown. Please share any of your memories right here where the comment section is below this story. I know some of you have memories of the old Allison Theatre, more than I’ve conjured up here and better ones I’d venture to say. Please share them with us if you don’t mind and are of a mind to…..The old Allison Theatre held lots of good memories for lots of folks, not just of the movies we saw there but the characters that hung around there too. The romances we saw up on the movie screen and the romances some of us had ourselves smooching in the back row of seats. My little sister would say today to those folks, “Hey get a room why don’t ya?”….Well little sister I’ll tell you why not, cause the show was the only place we had to go to back in them days……:-) OK I won’t ask you again but this one time. Let us hear your stories of the old Allison Theatre too…..

Paul From Alabama




2 responses

4 08 2011

Our “show” (movie theatre) had a concession stand that had two counters. The person working in the concession stand stood in the middle, between the two counters. If you were a white customer you stood on one side, which was the lobby. If you were a black customer you stood on the opposite side, in a hallway. After you received your food or beverage the whites went from the lobby to the street-level seats. If you were black, you followed the hallway to the stairway and went upstairs to sit in the balcony.

I don’t remember the cost when I started going to the “show” but I know that when they raised the price to twenty-five cents, you could still get in for fifteen cents every Wednesday.

5 08 2011

Our “show” was setup the same way. Funny ours was about the same too, as far as Wednesday being the “bargain” day. In Piedmont all the stores or most anyways always closed half day on Wednesday. Thanks flyingdj for reading my little story and I sure appreciate you sharing your “show” memories….I hope you folks finally get some rain out your way, I know Texas needs it. We finally got a good one yesterday. Doing some piddling myself in the garden in a while but it won’t include and watering today……Just deadheading the usual suspects and making sure everyone is happy, even one of my hibiscus’ that’s a might poorly here lately…….:-)

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