Destined to work at Proctors
Wednesday, August 4, 2010, SCHENECTADY GAZETTE
I’ve been doing my job since the age of 4.
Well, not actually doing the job itself, but I’ve been heading toward it, preparing for it, and living parts of it. I am the advertising manager; my job is to talk about Proctors and, in turn, get you to talk about Proctors. And, although I’ve only been working at Proctors since 1996, I’ve been talking about it for 33 years.
When did my dialog start? In 1977 or '78, I saw my first movie there. It was "Pete’s Dragon," a Disney picture in which a kid named Pete (how cool is that!) saves a New England fishing village with the help of Mickey Rooney, Helen Reddy and a cartoon dragon. It remains one of my favorite movies.
Sometime in the following year or so, Proctors had its grand re-opening with a performance of Harry Blackstone Jr. I was there, sat in the left balcony with my family right above the vomitory. I remember it very well; he made a light bulb float.
At a later point, my father took me and my two older brothers to see a double feature of "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" and "The Thing from Another World." It was the best and worst of Sci-Fi vegetable films. Does that sound like an early It Came from Schenectady event, the bizarre and cult film festival nights I helped create and program at Proctors? You bet.
My Catholic school took us to see a modern dance show sometime in the mid 80’s. I don’t remember the name of the company, but it was completely foreign, interpretive and not what anyone was expecting. The nuns referred to it as “that disappointing experience” when we asked the next day. Today, I can count a number of professional dancers and performers from my grade school; all of them went to that show.
My mother and my brothers were volunteer ushers when I was growing up. My mom, before she passed on, was even cited as a Volunteer of the Year. Back in the day, and I think enough time has passed to not get anyone in trouble, I would get sneaked into the theatre with the ushers where I would lie low until the lights went out and find a seat where no one was sitting. I saw The Flying Karamazov Brothers, Mummenschanz and "Frankenstein: The Musical." Two of these three simply amazed me, and I still think about them. The other was "Frankenstein: the Musical."
Every date I ever had was more than likely Proctors -- for a $2 movie. One of those “dates” is now my wife. ("Quiz Show," great date; still don’t like the movie.)
After I completed touring the SUNY system for college, like a lot of Linton High graduates I ended back in Schenectady without a plan. I lucked into a job at 20 hours a week in the Proctors Box Office. I used to cut up posters and advertisements and draw pictures of the shows and staff, just to make people laugh. I once made a picture of Bea Arthur dressed like The Crow that Rip Taylor stole because they were friends.
A few years later, someone in the business office called me in to talk about the posters and signs. They asked me how I’d like to do that full time -- for money. Really? Literally, I felt as if I had been in a waiting room forever -- and finally my name was called. That happens. Sign me up, I said!
My job is great. I get to talk about Proctors and to get others to talk about it, too! I want everyone to feel the same excitement about Proctors that I’ve experienced over the past 33 years.
Peter D. Hughes still goes to the movies and aside from his advertising work at Proctors, serves as co-producer of Proctors' It Came From Schenectady series.
To read an earlier blog by Peter D. Hughes, click HERE.