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Brave-Heart

AN USHER IN TIMES SQUARE PART 1 1951

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I was 15 and on summer vacation up in our summer home in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey, and I wanted/needed to get away from my family so I went looking for a job in Manhattan. I don’t know whether it was through an ad or I was just passing by and decided to stop in but I got a job as an usher at the Lyric Theatre on 42nd street better known as Times Square and many years before it was isneyfied",
The Lyric Theatre at one time was a first rate theatre that presented such stars as Sarah Bernhardt and was considered a gem among theatres in New York. By the time I had become a teenager it was a second rate movie theatre in what was becoming a seedy Times Square. While The Victoria Theatre next door started to show ‘racy’ films The Lyric showed second run movies from major companies. I remember seeing Danny Kaye, Gene Tierney and Corinne Calvert in “On The Riveria” at least 22 times--in fact I can still quote many of the lines!
It was an hour bus drive from/to Lake Hiawatha so I had to get up at six in the morning to catch the bus into the city and get the 6 PM bus back to the Lake. (An aside: one morning my brother came rushing into my bedroom yelling. “Hurry up! You are going to be late! You will miss the bus. It is after 7.” I jumped up, washed my fast quickly got dressed and was just about to run out of the house when I saw my brother laughing hysterically. It being my day off--I worked 6 days--I had taken an afternoon nap and it was 6 PM in the evening, not morning, when my brother woke me up!)
Working on Times Square at that age was quite an eye opener in many ways. Many well dressed men either looking for jobs or being salesmen would come in to waste a few hours, some even to take a nap. There was a balcony split into 2 sections where practically every kind of sex you could think of took place. My manager told me to ignore it unless they were noisy, rowdy or disrupting those who came to see the movie and sat in the balcony because it was where you could smoke. It was quite an education for a 15 year old kid seeing men with women, men with men, women with women and some you couldn’t tell which was which.
It was also an education in entrapment and blackmail and shakedowns.
To be continued…


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