A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Diary March 13, 1960: Kathy Tries to Spoil the Party

[click to enlarge]

"Dear Diary--

We went to the Canton & the Paramount yesterday, but I was tired & didn't write about it then. Kathy just about tried to spoil the party, or at least did her best to, she sat through Porgy & Bess sulking because it was "horrible" and because noone had bought her popcorn (& Gil paid her way in!). Then she sat in the very front seat, and wouldn't move from there, ate hardly anything at the Canton, told the waitress outright the food was lousy, took 2 pearls off my black hat & practically ruined my mother's best pocketbook--...boy! am I mad at her! (for good, I hope). And yet Gilda handled everything so tactfully!...Father Shea said Tina could come next week, but I just found out that there was no Catechism??"

This occasion would have been Gilda Johnson's 13th birthday party. The Canton was a Chinese restaurant in downtown Springfield close to the Paramount Theater. The Paramount, built in 1926 by Ernest F. Carlson, was the largest and fanciest of the theaters. It's been closed, renovated and reopened more than once in its long history. Just recently it was bought by the New England Farm Workers Council for $86,458...less than it cost to build it! NEFWC chief Heriberto Flores has said he would like it to be used for high school and college graduations, among other things. It's a national treasure and I hope they restore it respectfully.

For a while in the early 2000s, the Paramount was owned by Mike Barrasso and Steve Stein and operated as The Hippodrome. They put over a million dollars into renovating it, which showed. I used to go dancing there and I loved it. I'm struggling to think of another club I've ever frequented, in any city in the world, in any era, which compared to the Hippodrome in its heyday. They had smoke and snow machines, Le Cirque acrobats twirling above the dance floor, stiltwalkers meandering through it, projections, go-go dancers, champagne on the balcony, gorgeous lighting, great music and an upscale crowd. Let's see what the Farm Workers have in store for the Paramount next.

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