Alabama Theatre and Faye Dunaway

My daddy had a great sense of humor. He also loved wordplay. He was a great storyteller. He had vivid memories of his childhood, and we loved hearing his stories.

When I was a teenager, something came up in a family conversation about Faye Dunaway, the Academy Award-winning actress. Daddy said, “Faye Dunaway went to my school.” I must have looked at him like he had fourteen eyes, because he reiterated that she had gone to his elementary school in Florida.

Because he was a jokester, I thought, “Oh, I get it. He went to school with someone named Faye Dunaway, but not the real Faye Dunaway.” For YEARS, I thought it was a joke. I don’t remember talking about it a lot…just that once or maybe twice.

Years later, when I was in my late 20s, I was reading People Magazine one evening after work, and there was an article about Faye Dunaway. I started reading it, and there, in the second paragraph, it said she went to school in Bascom, Florida. That’s where Daddy went to elementary school! I picked up the phone and called him.

I said to him, “I’m reading an article about Faye Dunaway, and she really did go to school in Bascom!” He responded, “I’ve been saying that for years.” “Well, I know, Daddy, but I always thought you were kidding, saying someone NAMED Faye Dunaway went to your school.” We shared a good laugh at the confusion.

By the same token, I had some confusion with something Mother said for years too.

Mother grew up in the Birmingham, Alabama, area. When I was a little girl, she told me she used to go to the Alabama Theatre in downtown Birmingham for the Mickey Mouse Club on Saturdays. She made a big deal in telling me about the giant organ that would rise up out of the floor of the theatre.

auditorium

Interior of Alabama Theatre. Photo from Alabamatheatre.com. The theatre was home to the country’s largest Saturday morning Mickey Mouse Club at one time. It was also the first air-conditioned public building in Birmingham.

I didn’t tell Mother at the time, but when she said that about the organ rising from the floor, I thought she must have been mistaken. I honestly thought her memory must have been playing tricks on her, because who ever heard of an organ rising up out of the floor?

It just didn’t make sense to me, but I didn’t argue with her. I just thought her little girl brain had been tricked into thinking the organ came out of the floor…some sort of optical illusion or something.

Then, in my late 20s, I read Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe. Well, since Fannie Flagg is from Alabama, I’m guessing she must have visited the Alabama Theatre, because in the book, she mentions the organ. She mentions how the organ rises up from the floor!

So Mother’s memory wasn’t playing tricks on her, after all! I promptly called her to tell her what I’d read. She said, “I’ve been telling you about that organ for years!” I confessed, “Well, I know, Mother, but I thought your memory was playing tricks on you!” We had a good laugh over it.

wurlitzer-2

Photo of Big Bertha, The Mighty Wurlitzer, from Alabamatheatre.com

To see more about the Alabama Theatre and the organ they call Big Bertha, The Mighty Wurlitzer, click here. The theatre has an interesting history, and the organ was one of only 25 of its type ever built.

It makes me wonder what I’ve told my daughter that she questions. Maybe she keeps it to herself that she thinks I’m talking out of my mind when I talk about a childhood memory.

Let’s take, for example, the time I caught a really big catfish in the neighborhood lake. When I was a little girl, we would go cane-pole fishing down at the lake at the bottom of the hill in our neighborhood. Sometimes we would catch catfish and take them home for Mother to clean them and fry them up, and sometimes, we had no luck at all. One time, I caught the record catfish…a record for us, anyway. It might have been five pounds. As soon as I caught it, we took it home. My brother and I had catfish for dinner that night.

Maybe my daughter thinks I was confused about how big that fish was.

Maybe she thinks I’m crazy when I tell her otters lived in that neighborhood pond. They did. I saw them from the school bus window one morning. Everybody had been talking about them for weeks, and finally, I saw them surface.

Maybe my daughter thinks I saw a dog swimming through the pond and thought it was an otter.

I didn’t go to school with anybody famous. None of my friends have become famous (yet), so I don’t have any stories to tell my child about “I knew him when.” I don’t remember anything like The Mighty Wurlitzer from my childhood, so all I have is the pond with the catfish and the otter.

I haven’t even been to see The Mighty Wurlitzer rise up out of the floor at the Alabama Theater. But in December, I plan to make a trip to Birmingham. Every year, the Alabama Theater shows classic holiday movies on the big screen. I’ll go, and when I see The Mighty Wurlitzer come up out of the floor, I’ll think of my mother and laugh about how I thought she was confused…just like I think of my daddy every time I think of that famous photo of Faye Dunaway (click here to see the iconic photo taken the morning after she won the Academy Award) at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

My New Favorite App

There are lots of good apps out there…apps that keep you organized, apps that keep you on time, apps that help you find your way…so many apps. Lots of good ones, and lots of bad ones.

Recently, I saw something on MSN about some people who had body shamed Selena Gomez after seeing her in a swimsuit. The article I read said her response was a homemade video set to one of her songs. I loved it. The video looked like an old home movie.

jeremy-yap-160713-unsplash.jpg

Anyone who follows my personal Facebook page knows I was on vacation last week. They also know I made my own little “documentary” of the trip. My little family (plus two of my daughter’s friends) vacationed with my brother, his wife, and two of her sons. (FYI: I’m not one of those people who refers to my sis-in-law’s children as my brother’s too, because they have a daddy…I don’t want to step on toes. I know some people are cool with it, but I don’t want to overstep.) The two boys are delightful and as different as night and day, and we love them as if they are our own.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….so we went on vacation together, and I had just read about the Selena Gomez video. I knew she had to have used an app, so I set out on a quest to find the perfect app for making simulated Super 8/8mm videos…just like the home movies we used to make and play on the projector.

I’m not much of a “techie.” You can teach an old dog new tricks, but this old dog doesn’t have the attention span for learning too much new techie stuff.

I did my research. I read articles online, and I read reviews of different apps. From what I could tell, there was one app that would be perfect for my use. There were some that were more complicated, but that scared me. There are some that offer more bells and whistles, but that scared me. This one is simple and very user friendly. It is called simply “8mm Vintage Camera.” I needed an easy app that would produce the 8mm effect without much thinking or work on my part, and that’s exactly what it is. There is a free version and a paid version…I think the paid version offers a few more options without requiring a lot of knowledge.

I decided to download the app before our vacation in the Bahamas, and I am so glad I did.

I documented our trip as well as I could. I also annoyed my brother with this app as much as I could, but he’s accustomed to that. I will add a snippet that shows the look on his face as I take yet another video of him (no sound on this one).

 

The app offers lot of options. You can record with sound or without. I prefer to record without sound, simply because it seems more authentic to me. I’m sure younger people will want to record with sound.

It also offers different filters for recording. I have only used two of the filters: one called “60s” and one called “Pela.” The “60s” filter produced a slightly gray hue, while the “Pela” filter seems to film with amber undertones.

This video has no sound:

 

Another great thing about the app is that you can add music from your iTunes library to your own videos. Apple Music songs won’t add, so you must purchase them in order to add them to your videos. I’ve added songs to all my videos, and I’ve noticed a good song can make a not-so-good video look better!

Since we returned home from vacation, I’ve had even more opportunity to use it. My friend, Wendy, came into town for Easter weekend and brought her two children. As you may have read before, back in the day, we had the best playgroup ever when our kids were young. As time has gone by, people have moved away, but we have all managed to stay in touch.

Some of you know Wendy is sick with leukemia. After arriving in town and spending some time with friends and family, she had to go into the hospital here. Because of that, the playgroup moms all rallied and had an old-school Easter Egg Hunt for all the playgroup kids…they’re almost all teenagers now, but they were up for a bit of nostalgia. Not one of them sulked through the egg hunt, and I’m sure it was because they were just so happy to be together.

Because Wendy couldn’t be there for the egg hunt, we all took photos to send her, and I made some videos with my new app. It was super easy, and I think they turned out great, if I do say so myself. I’m only including clips here, because I don’t want to share everything with the whole world, but you get the idea. The video below is brief but includes the song Sunshine On My Shoulders by John Denver.

 

And another brief video without music:

 

 

So, here’s the skinny: if I can operate 8mm Vintage Camera, anyone can. I am completely and utterly obsessed with it, so if you see me out and about, don’t be surprised if I ask you to wave while I point my smartphone at you.

You could be a star of a minor motion picture!

XOXO,

Kelly