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It was a perfect night for a movie. Caroline Hasty, events manager for the city of Lancaster, got the elderly man a chair and sat it up on the grass at the normally vacant lot at the corner of Main and Gay streets Saturday night. I use the term “elderly” loosely, but I’m 60 and he was older than me.
Hasty told me that the man always spoke to her when they meet on the street, that he lived alone at the Parr Apartments and that she told him if he came to the movie she would make sure he had a chair. She did.
As darkness fell, she welcomed everyone and mentioned that concessions were being sold by Carolina Smokehouse, the people who are remodeling the Patio, and that popcorn was available. The man left his chair to get some popcorn, but came back with a carryout plate full of great food and a Coke.
We all – black, white, young and old – sat in yard chairs or lay on blankets and watched “The Blind Side” on a big screen under a beautiful full September moon. Somehow, seeing this movie under these circumstances made it better.
The first time I saw the movie, it was good, but this time it seemed more relevant.
While the previews were rolling, I thought about all the movies I have seen at the local drive ins and felt a little nostalgic. I saw John Wayne movies and James Bond movies. I remember seeing three Elvis movies one night when I was just a kid with my siblings and my parents in an old white 1964 Chevrolet.
But as I watched Sandra Bullock’s portrayal of a real Memphis mother, who helps a black child find his future, I remembered other things. I remembered that black folks had their own waiting room at the doctors office when I was a kid. I remembered that they had to sit in the balcony of the Parr Theatre on Main Street. I remembered seeing “White Only” water fountains.
As the movie ended, people gathered up their chairs and blankets and I wondered what the man had thought of the movie.
I know I left the lot thinking that I was proud to live in Lancaster, a town that would give its citizens an opportunity to watch an inspirational movie for free – and together.
It was the perfect movie.