Perspective: The life lessons of a family in the movie business
Food for thought from a rambling mind:
I just walked out of a historical presentation at our local movie theatre, The Onarga Theatre. It was about the history of this small town theatre, the Very First, talking picture show south of Chicago in the US back in 1937. The history was pretty cool, and the place is facing the same dilemma as we are at the Harvest Moon. But one thing struck me more than anything when I was watching the presentation about the older films and the transition from it's start as the brain child of the Thomas Edison, to the Lumiere brothers, Nickelodeon mini theatres, Vaudeville, silent films, talkies, then color, and now the High Definition 3D films we see today. That fact was that of all those old disciplines, they are only preserved in memories and museums. Vaudeville, black and white, silents, all of these medium and the movie houses that housed them and have since vanished. It actually caught me off guard. In this modern age of HD movies on my iphone, internet everywhere you turn, and the constant chatter of millions of distractions everytime we sit down to see a movie, watch tv, each a meal, the slow pace of watching a movie in your car with your friends and significant other is something different and special.
The big thing that literally brought me to tears? The realization that the next two weekends will be the very last time I touch 35MM film as it rolls through our projector. Flipping the switch, hearing the buzz of the rectifiers as the 5000 watt bulbs fire up, the click and whirl of hundreds of small gears pulling the miles of film through the projector is a unique sound I'm never going to hear again. Although I'm not the main projectionist; over the years I've helped to deliver the movies, splice them together, rewind, make the announcements, pick the trailers and previews, and trouble shoot these mechanical beasts that breathed life into thousands of movie titles over the past 23 years. The full force, knowing that the end of this season may close this landmark sends tears to my eyes whenever I think of the memories. It's where I got to spend time with my Mom and Dad, brother, close friends, and had some of the only memories I can't forget in recent years. On top of those feelings, knowing that Sunday the 30th, we will take apart our last film, dim the screen lights, turn off the transmitters, and walk away from over two decades of memories and over 130 years of 35MM film showing us our weekend entertainment, I'm going to feel lost.
Every fall, I look forward to getting off from the drive in and enjoying my weekends with friends out at other theatres, concerts, and relaxing at home. But this year feels so different. This is potentially the last time I'll be here; selling tickets, joking with our friends new and old, watching the film run its course until the blue light signals the end of the movie, and the end of an entire era in our history. As the credits roll on our movie, the one featuring two family's dreams of a drive in movie theatre, our struggles, joy, passion, and finally the climactic ending. I hope to see a sequel. One where this drive in bursts back to life like a phoenix in the spring, with new projectors, a big celebratory festival to enjoy our revival and rebirth as one of the few digital drive-ins in the country. Will you help me write this memoir, contribute to the movie of my life, and preserve something of our past outside of walls of memories and museums?
Thank you for reading this, and if you have any good memories of the Harvest Moon over the past 58 years, please feel free to post them below. This is more than a theatre, It's literally my life since I was a child.
Ben Harroun and family