Monday, May 29, 2006

Sometimes when I'm eating at Moe's Southwest Grill in west Ashley, I feel a little sad. The restaurant sits where the Ultravision Theater used to be. I get especially sad when the weather turns hot and my mind and body switch to summer mode.

Back in the days when I needed a grown up to transport me, the Ultravision was a single theater. No eight movie selections there. One. And it was a grand one in my pre-teen experience. The rounded white brick building would virtually gleam in the sun. Once inside, it was a cool, dim cave of dark blood red carpet and hard wood flooring.

There was a real curtain across the screen, about a billion yards of heavy red velvet. I know it was heavy because I touched it once when I won a Wednesday Afternoon Movie door prize: a certificate for a small buttered popcorn. I marched from my red velvet chair to the stage with my ticket stub firmly in hand and shared the popcorn with my friend Kristi, but I think we wouldn't let her little sister have any. Sorry.

Wednesday afternoons in the summer was kid's day. Free prizes, G-rated movies, a chance for our moms to go browsing at the Grant's next door (think early Wal-mart) and just get rid of us for a while. Most of the fare was pap, 60's kid entertainmnet. I think I saw The Parent Trap there.

Oh, but it was the summer I turned twelve that brings a tear to my eye when I remember. I had read the book, of course. My mamma was a Southern belle and had raised me as best she could in that tradition, against the forces of military life and my three brothers.

So, I was anticipating as we waiting in the blinding heat, fidgeting in line for my popcorn and soda, downright impatient at the immature screaming and laughing at the prize drawings. Then finally, the lights dimmed and the curtains pulled up and away as regally as anything I'd ever seen in my short span on earth.

Gone With The Wind. Every girl should see it in the theater, full sized and bursting off the screen. The dresses, the dances, the war, the triumph. Clark Gable. Drool.

While every other girl was moaning over Ashley Wilkes, I thought he was a wimp. Give me my Rhett Butler. Give me my bad boy. Oh, those dark eyes, that handsome face. That hint of danger. That pure manly grown up-edness of him. It was almost too much for my pre-pubescent little emotions.

We all wanted to be as pretty and vivacious as Scarlett and as sweet and kind as Melanie. We wanted to wear pretty dresses and go to dances. We wanted to tackle life regardless of what the world threw our way.

So, I cried when I saw the bulldozers lined up, ready to begin tearing down the building to make way for Moe's and Mama Fu's Noodle House. I liked going to movies there and always hoped it would be showing in the "old" room, where I could smile at the ghost of myself.


jzwiker said...

One might say that all the glory and grandeur that had been the Ultravision is now... gone with the wind.

Kelly Love said...

I remember the Ultravision! Very fond memories of that place. I went on a field trip there in middle school to see "Conrack." I went on my first "real" (he paid) date there. The last movie I saw there was "Life is Beautiful" (Roberto Benigni).

JanetLee said...

Field trips! Having a flashback of a middle school trip to the Ultravision to see "Julius Caesar" for English class.

Duke said...

The Ultravision! I used to stand outside waiting to get my ticket in the steamy days of July. My first kiss - her name was Shirley - was in that theater.