I don’t live in Marion, and I may never get to McDowell Twin Cinema; my local theater, the Carolina, is just a few blocks from where I live, and it’s awesome. But I want to ask people who, like me, probably won’t get to go see a movie at McDowell Twin to dig into their pockets and keep this place around, and I’ll tell you why.
The first movie I saw in a theater was The Wizard of Oz. (It was not in first run, I am eternal but I’m not that old.) I was five years old, maybe four. It was showing at the Fremont in San Luis Obispo, during the time in my life I’d come to think of as Before the Divorce. When Oz the Great and Powerful bellowed at the scarecrow, I ran screaming from the theater, terrified that he was going to hurt Dorothy and her friends. I told my parents solemnly that night that when I grew up I was going to marry Judy Garland. It fell to my father to tell me she’d died when I was two.
When the first Rocky movie came to the Village Theater in Claremont, I knew I loved boxing: I was ten. We were living with my grandmother up the street. I begged the cost of a matinee off my mom, who probably asked my grandmother for it since mom was still reentering the workforce, and I went and tried to follow the grown-up story on the screen and sat alone in the dark feeling quite sophisticated and worldly. That Bill Conti score. All that blood. Burgess Meredith’s face — his voice.
I have dozens of other memories like these - unimportant to, say, world history, but pretty important to me and to my life - and they all take place in small theaters like McDowell. I’ve seen movies in big multiplexes like everybody else, and enjoyed them well enough, but a good local theater is a beautiful thing in this world. I don’t have to live in Marion to know that the McDowell’s value can’t be estimated in terms of size or reach.
I have over ninety thousand followers here on Tumblr. If half of you gave McDowell Twin a dollar, they’d be near their goal; if half of you gave a dollar-fifty, they’d exceed it by a good measure. If you can: please do. You may not personally reap any direct benefit. But I think of the young men and women in a small town who might dream dreams in the McDowell Twin, and I remember Judy Garland in the dark of the Fremont in 1971, and I think: these moments are worth making more of if we can.
This is sentimental, I know. Still. Thanks for hearing me out, and for doing what you can!