Tuesday 06 Dec 2016

Movie Museum
AJ Robinson

The term museum carries certain connotations: glass display cases, ancient artifacts, tour guides droning on about something, and so on. Well, many things on Martha’s Vineyard do not fit into such easy stereotypes, and the Movie Museum was one of them. Up in West Tisbury stands the old Grange Hal. It’s for arts and crafts shows, the annual agricultural fair and, back when I was a kid, the Movie Museum.

Every summer, we’d see posters all over the place listing the movies showing there. My dad and I would grab one and tack it up on the wall of our cottage. While the drive out to the museum was a bit of a haul, at least for the island, we always managed to find at least a couple movies we wanted to see.

It was at the museum that I saw my first true epic. In those days, all that meant to me was the movie was so long that it had an intermission. I’d never experienced that before, and thought it was cool. It was “Around the World in Eighty Days,” and my dad, true to form, fell asleep within the first ten minutes of the movie. I don’t know what it was about movie theaters, but they always seemed to knock him out. The one exception was “Ghandi,” he actually stayed awake for the whole movie.

I digress.

The Movie Museum was a very simple basic place: the second floor of the hall, big open room, long wooden benches to sit on. At the back, right under the projectionist, was the concession stand. Usually, I didn’t bother with it. One, there wasn’t time before the movie and, two, my dad tended to be a bit of a miser! He would rarely spring for a soda or candy bar. Well, this night, as we had an intermission, I had time, while he slept, to get up and check the place out. The old pictures on the wall meant little to me, they traced the history of the Grange, so I checked out the snacks. As I had my own money, I decided to get some treats: a soda and a candy bar. Mind you, this was not some teeny-tiny sample bar. No, it was full-sized, which made for quite the meal! Back then, prices were reasonable, a quarter for each. Of course, I thought they were outrageous.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, but, at the time, I didn’t recognize any of the actors. Once again, I had yet to learn about the whole concept of the cameo appearance.

Another time, we went to a special showing of “Psycho.” My dad said it was a scary movie. He knew of several people who would only shower behind a locked door after seeing it. I was not impressed. After all, it was an old movie, it had to be, it was in black and white. So, how could it possibly be scary?

I got so I could completely barricade the cottage’s bathroom door in under a minute.

Yeah, there are many great movies. I also learned something about museums: they preserve things worth keeping.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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