‘Lowell Movie Memory’ by Richard Marion

Better known for his drawings, paintings, and ceramics, my brother Richard has been putting some of his recollections and observations into words lately. Following is a “movie memory” that he wrote with Suzanne Cromwell in mind. He refers to her as “Suzanne Movie” for her work with the Lowell Film Collaborative. The following remembered fragment flows from Centralville to downtown Lowell.—PM

Lowell Movie Memory

for “Suzanne Movie”

When I was six years old and walked myself to St. Louis School, fireflies on a summer’s night were often the rule. A rambler as a tyke, I rambled further as I grew. Four blocks away was the “Ice Cream Shack” at the corner of Dalton Road and Aiken Street in Centralville, where there was an empty lot. Teen kids of a WWII vet were the scooping crew. Two inches more, and my chin would have reached the stainless steel counter. A quarter bought an ice cream prize for Mom, young brother David, and me. A nearby back lot was fallow, not yet a car-park for neighbors, who walked down the hill to see gray crew-cut “Pop” and his clutch of teenagers and friends. The attraction was a stretched-sheet screen tied between utility poles on which would be projected “The Three Stooges” or “Cowboys” or another feature in the dark summer night. The audience was happy to be seated on gravel or to lie back on the ground.

Each neighbor or acquaintance knew where each child belonged from the walk-to-school routes and kept an eye on kids so they’d be on time for class. In those days residents knew neighbors and the extended families were around. People would dress up to walk or ride the bus downtown to go to Rexall’s, Woolworth’s, H.L. Green’s, Kresgee’s, Bon Marche, Pollard’s for a book loan, or Prince’s for paper goods, pens, and gifts in the annex. The “ladies” would do lunch at the YWCA and shop for fancy clothes at David Lemkins and Mr. Cherry’s. Parents would meet at the Rex with a sauna and bowling downstairs.”

—Richard Marion (6/16/10)