"Georgia, you were telling me about being in the Palace with your sister," I said to Georgia Jones Friday evening at a screening of the classic comedy "Ghostbusters," held at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts as a fundraiser to support purchasing digital projectors for the Palace Theatre - part of the Go Digital or Go Dark campaign organized by the Adirondack North Country Association and the Adirondack Film Society.
"There was a lot of noise, and we could not figure out what it was," said Georgia. "My sister grabbed my hand and said we better get out of here, so we walked out into the lobby and looked out in to the street. It was utter chaos. I don't know what time, probably 7 or 8 o'clock. The street was alive with people. They were celebrating the end of World War II in Europe. I think all the liquor stores in town had been cleaned out to the walls. That was when the soldiers were R&R'ing over at the Lake Placid Club, so the town was full of them. They were having a great time. When I looked out, and of course I hadn't attained my full height yet, I saw that there was a soldier hanging under the belly of a horse, just hanging on though probably still in the stirrups, I'll never forget that as long as I live."
"Do you remember what film you were watching?" I asked.
Ray Curran and Georgia Jones attend a screening of “Ghostbusters” at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts Friday, Nov. 1, a fundraiser the Palace Theatre’s digital conversion.
"I can't remember. Whatever it was, it was age-appropriate."
"Did you have your first date at the movies or something like that?"
"Yeah, it was with Mac Fish's cousin. His name was Keith Emerson Ballard," said Georgia. "He was my first date. He went to Exeter. I was 14 that summer."
"What was the film?"
"I can't remember."
"Ah, you go to the movies, and you can never remember what you saw."
"Come on, these were big events!" said Georgia. "Who can possibly remember the movie when you are out with Keith Ballard. He became a lawyer and went to Paris."
"I bet you remember where you were sitting in the Palace."
"In the back."
"I sat back there myself for the same reason," I said.
"And I was terrified, completely terrified."
"I love it. I bet you were. I have to say I was terrified watching 'The Wizard of Oz' when the house landed on the wicked witch, but at least that was because of something on the screen. I think that might have been my first film, except I remember going on Saturday for the cartoons. Ray, how about you, what was one of your most memorable experiences at the Palace?"
"Seeing the marquee after the hockey game with all the crowds around - it said, 'U.S. BEATS RUSSIA,'" Ray Curran said. "It was a great celebration with tons of people walking on Main Street, snow drifting down. It was a wonderful night.
"You know, we would go to the movies those days and see newsreels," he added.
"That's right, it was called Fox Movietone News."
"There was no such thing as network news," said Ray. "You'd go to the theaters on Saturdays or Sundays to see the week's news events."
"I can remember when they collected money for the Will Rogers Hospital in Saranac Lake; entertainers and members of the film industry who had TB went there," said Georgia. "They turned the lights on, came down the aisles and collected money."
"I like the Palace because it is fabulous, keeps getting movies for our community, and we need a movie theatre," said Joyce McLean. "I can't wait to see some of the silent movies with the organ playing. There is so much going on. That theater is phenomenal. It really is. We have to keep it."
"I probably first went to the Palace in 1936, maybe '37," said Paul Reiss. "I saw two movies: One was 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' and the other one was 'Tom Sawyer.' I really remember them. They were, of course, talkies. What was interesting is that you could go for just 11 cents. You could go down on Saturday afternoon and watch the cartoons. My mother would give me 50 cents, two quarters. She would tell me to go down to the central barbershop and get a haircut. That was 35 cents. Then I could go to the movie and use 11 cents, and that left me 4 cents, which was enough for two Tootsie Rolls."
"On many a cold winter night I hobble up the streets and enjoy a movie at the Palace," said Twig McGlynn. "I think we are lucky in the small village of 2,800 people that we have such a fine movie theater. It's a key part of the community."
"How is the Go Digital or Go Dark campaign going?" I asked Kate Fish, director of ANCA and coordinator of the Go Digital or Go Dark campaign.
"We have Tupper Lake converted," said Kate. "Old Forge is almost there. The other theaters have made applications for NYSCA (New York State Council on the Arts) grants, and we are feeling pretty good about that, but we still have a ways to go for the Palace."
"What was the first movie you saw at the Palace?"
"'Romeo and Juliet' was the first one," said Kate. "I was probably 13, and I was completely transformed by that movie, but also just by sitting in the Palace. I so connected to Juliet."
"I was little, I saw 'Lilo and Stitch,' and I cried," said Paige Megliore. "I am Barbara Clark's granddaughter. I think I saw that movie with her," she added, pointing to Heather Clark.
"You were sitting on my lap the whole time," said Heather.
"Oh yeah," said Paige.
The Palace Theatre stitches our community together through such memories and experiences. Talk to any local and seasonal residents, as well as many of the countless visitors to our region, and they all have their Palace Theatre memories. Currently there is a dollar-for-dollar match; each dollar given, up to $20,000, is matched by the generosity of the Burrows family. To contribute, go to www.razoo.com/story/save-the-palace.