Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com. Two tickets, one for my mother and one for me, slid toward us through a half-moon window. A fountain drink with crushed
Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com.
Two tickets, one for my mother and one for me, slid toward us through a half-moon window. A fountain drink with crushed ice, larger than I could handle, more than I could finish. Behind a glass counter, popcorn, warm and buttery, cascaded from beneath a stainless-steel lid, the kettle tilting, tilting, then snapping back to refill, a motion reminiscent of the tippy top-hat drinking bird that mesmerized me as a kid. My mom led me through a door, and we took our seats midway up the aisle, the lights dimming, dimming into darkness.
The Cinema II movie theater opened in Asheboro in 1972, when I was 2 years old, with a showing of a John Wayne western called The Cowboys, which I didn’t see on account of being 2 years old, but four years later, there I sat, legs dangling over the edge of a cushioned chair, staring up at a screen as wide as the sky, ready to experience my very first movie, Walt Disney’s Dumbo, the fantastical story of the little elephant with giant ears. And he could fly.
Somewhere above us, a projector flickered to life, softly whirring, beaming its shaft of light above us, and then — trumpets, tubas, flutes! — the screen filled with images, twirling, spinning, dancing right in front of me. I was immersed as a story that I loved from my cherished Little Golden Book was transformed into a spectacle larger than life. When it was over, I clapped and clapped, and begged to see it again.
Over the years, my affection for the world of movies grew. When I was 9, Christmas morning brought me a Super 8 movie camera with a projector and a portable screen. I filmed everything around me: my grandparents standing beneath a cluster of mistletoe in the doorway; my dad chopping vegetables for his homemade soup; our beloved beagle, Muffin, curled comfortably on the sunlit hardwood floor.
My moviegoing adventures persisted, too, with weekend afternoons watching Superman and Grease and Raiders of the Lost Ark. On one occasion, I climbed into the truck bed with my neighbor and her little brother, accompanying their uncle to the North 220 Drive-In in Asheboro for a showing of Halloween — a movie, in hindsight, way too mature for my tender years. My heart raced like a rabbit through the whole film, but I loved how we all shrieked and shielded our eyes, united by the collective fear.
Throughout high school, I caravanned with a group of friends to see Bull Durham and Shag and Dirty Dancing, movies that felt rooted in places that looked like home.
Shag was set in Myrtle Beach, but the soundtrack was filled with the “oldies” music we blasted from WZOO-AM radio in Asheboro, my friends belting out “Oh What a Night” from the back seat of my car. And we all lost our minds when Johnny lifted Baby out of that water in Dirty Dancing, a moment immortalized at Lake Lure. As teenagers ourselves, we were caught up in the exhilaration of new romance, the screen in front of us filling with images — twirling, spinning, dancing — that we hadn’t yet experienced.
I’m still enthralled by movies, but now I marvel at the real-life settings, images that unfold in front of me all across North Carolina. I’ve felt the powerful rush of water from Hickory Nut Falls — there it is in The Last of the Mohicans — and retraced Robert Redford’s path across the top of Fontana Dam from A Walk in the Woods. I’ve savored a serene moment at Lake Lure, my legs dangling over the edge of the dock, embracing a view of the mountains. Larger than life. And somewhere above, golden sunlight beams, illuminating this shimmering water, these magnificent mountains, this glorious scene, this awe-inspiring show.
Editor in Chief