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Wildey Movies

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Memories from the 1970's

Preach at the Wildey - 1978

I read your article about the Wildey Theater with great interest. Although I was not old enough to remember some of the stories, we all have our particular memories. A couple things I remember about the Wildey was the ornateness of the theater. As kids, we did not appreciate it, but it had some beautiful architecture. Also, a lady named Mrs. Duffy was the manager and she kept us in line. We would go to Saturday afternoon matinees and during intermission they would give away bags of popcorn. We always kept our ticket stubs on the chance that we would win! They would show about four movies on Saturday, usually the Three Stooges or the Little Rascals. Those were our favorites. I also remembered about going to show during Prom. We would go to the dance first, usually the SIUE's Meridian Ballroom, then go to the Wildey, and then to the Roundtable Restaurant for a early morning breakfast buffet. I had kind of forgotten about going there for Prom until I read it. We did feel pretty special with our pretty dresses, walking the red carpet like the stars do! Thanks for the memories and I look forward to reading the book!

Nancy (Smith) Genteman (Class of 1971)

I worked at the Wildey during my senior year of high school and freshman year of college (1976-1978) when Mrs. Verna Duffy was the manager. My sister, Patti, also worked there her senior year of high school. Those were some of the best days of my life and the memories shall remain with me forever.

I spent many scary nights perched on a ladder changing the sign and multitude of light bulbs on the marquee. I too remember the midnight movies on prom nights. The Wildey is and was a classic. I hope it remains forever.

I am the proud "owner" of an antique "Balcony Closed" sign that legend says is modeled after a former district manager for the parent company of the Wildey (I thought I would never forget the man's name, but it escapes me now. I have met him many times, as a very old man or at least he seemed so to a 16 year old!). "He" is peering over my shoulder as I type this!

David W. Dunn
Mesquite (Dallas), TX

Ahhh, the Wildey!  What a wonderful place!  

I have many memories so, here goes! 

Saw all the "good stuff", of course:  Lassie, Come Home, Where the Red Fern Grows, (that "remembrance" makes me tear up right now!); Black Beauty . . .

DRACULA:  Wow. Seeing the guy hanging by a rope tied to his ankles ~ in his blue silk PJ's ~ above that coffin ~ throat cut and blood just a drippin' . . . . Watched the entire film but to this day (I'm now age 45) . . . When I sleep at night I keep my wrists under the covers and my neck is never exposed (like covers are gonna help me in the event of a vamp attack . . .). 

Don't know what year it was but I will never, ever forget the time my folks had a dinner date (or whatever).  It was summer and, in retrospect I think it was probably a Saturday night . . . anyway, they were going out so, they dropped my brother Dan, and me off at the Wildey to see "the movie".  They'd pick us up two hours later.

Parents sped away and there we were, dropped off at the movies. Got our tics from the (long gone booth) and were told we had to leave: Movie was rated "R" and no one under 18 allowed . . . movie was "Gailey, Gailey". What an eye-opener... I envision another hanging of sorts; black hood and . . . well, it was a "sex" flick back in those days ~ certainly not one that my little brother and I should have been allowed to see.  The Wildey staff let us stay, of course cuz, well, we were stranded . . . 

Next nice memory is a date movie:  6th grade . . . Poseidon Adventure. My guy wore a maroon windbreaker & oh, my, gosh!  He even put his arm around me!  My friend "experienced the same experience." I love that movie; try to catch it when it's "on" (what a stellar cast!).  I remember where the 4 of us sat . . .

Referring to where I was seating-wise:  My all-time favorite movie at The Wildey is Jesus Christ Superstar.  I know exactly who I went with and know exactly where we all sat for the show.  Wow. 

I can still see in my mind's eye the lobby; the carpet, candy counter; ice machine and the dark cubby-hole office on the right just beyond the ice machine where that mean, hateful old lady sat in dim light (her last name began with a "D") and a cigarette hangin' out of her mouth . . .

The big, huge mirror and fake plants/greenery that greeted patrons as they decided to go right or left for seating or . . . upstairs (to the right or to the left) for balcony . . . 

Better stop now: Have additional memories/stories so, if you have an interest, please advise.  Thank you.

Sarah Mateyka.  (Karen's daughter, FYI)

"Memories of the Wildey"
By Robin Payne

My husband, Jon Payne, and I have been married since 1979.  In our days of dating, my husband was employed as one of the projectionists at the historic Wildey Theatre. 

As he attended college, this job lasted several years.  So, needless to say, many, many, many evenings, weekends and holidays I spent at home.

I remember times when we might have had bad weather on Christmas day that Jon would have to go to work for a Christmas matinee with maybe very few people due to the weather conditions and Jon would say, "Even if only one person shows up for the movie, the show must go on!" 

I know that he enjoyed his popcorn, soda & even an occasional nap between reel changes.  One sure sign if a projectionist ever fell asleep on the job would be when the screen went black, you knew he missed his reel change and I think some type of bell went off, not to mention the boo's heard through the peep hole from the movie goers down below.  

It took being a girlfriend of a projectionist to know the little black dots in the corners of the screen meant a reel change.

I would say I have one memory of the theater that stands out more than the rest and am reminded of it many times when I go to our garage.  Once I rode with a friend to the Wildey to pop in and say hi to my sweetheart.  During our conversation, he starts to tell me about another Camaro he thinks he would like to buy.  Of course, he already had one, and he had already had many previously.  The money used to purchase this car would be the funds he had saved up to purchase my engagement ring.  So, needless to say, since I still did not have the ring yet, I was dead set against this purchase.  As my fury rose in the booth, I was not allowed in.  I finally asked, "Where is this stupid car anyway?" and his reply was, "it is probably in my driveway by now."  If I remember anything at all of the Wildey Theatre, it was how mad I was at that very moment.  I drove home from there with him in one of the existing Camaro's in total silence.

I guess you could say our marriage has worked for 28 years and the Camaro is still with us, perhaps because I always said, "If I go, the Camaro goes with me!!!!"

I am sure he has many more memories, but as I pass the Wildey on occasions, that night comes to mind many times.

Robin Payne

Wife of the Projectionist
Bunker Hill, IL 

Although I attended several movies at the Wildey Theater as a teen and young adult, there are two visits that strike a particular memory for me. The first was in 1968 when a high school friend, Vanessa, and I went to see the "Odd Couple" with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. That particular evening we were in charge of her preschool age sister, Veronica. We bought popcorn and soda in hopes of keeping Veronica entertained during the movie and then took seats in the balcony. Veronica did pretty well sitting through the movie, but at one point she tried to get her older sister's attention. Vanessa told Veronica to please be quiet. Suddenly, Veronica exclaimed (in more than a stage whisper) "But, Nessie, I've got to pee!!" We two teens were mortified, because in our minds, the entire theater audience had their eyes upon us.

The other memory was from 1970. I was seventeen and was asked to go "to the show" on a blind date. The young man, Ken, was home on leave from the Army. He had attended the high school that I was attending, Roxana High. We were "fixed up" for the date by a mutual friend. We went to the Wildey to see "Patton." I don't remember much about Ken, but I did enjoy the music from Patton. One of my all time movie scene favorites is the opening scene when General George Patton (played by George C. Scott) gives his speech to the troops. His colorful language and posturing to prepare the troops for war made a lasting impression on me. I now own my own DVD copy of "Patton."

Submitted by Gena (Zeller) Boger, Roxana, IL

I worked at the Wildey Theatre in 1976, my first job.  I was the Ticket Booth person and was paid a big $2.25 an hour.  I do have many memories of the Wildey.  

Mrs. Duffy, what a gem, everyone thought she was such a mean person but truly she was a very big hearted, patient, wonderful person.  She did however keep you on your toes along with everyone in the Theatre on their toes.  Her only day off back then was Wednesday and she would have a gentleman by the name of Mr. Hickey, from the Caseyville Drive-In, come and work for her.  Otherwise she never called off work no matter how sick she was.   

I liked being the Ticket person, my friends would always drive by and honk and waive at me in the ticket booth.  Then of course Marvin "Preach" Webb would visit me nightly and we were engaged several times.  HA….  he would give me rings like the ones you used to get out of the bubble gum machines.   

The Wildey Theatre is a historical part of Edwardsville and I hope in my lifetime it will always be there.    

Mary Eihausen
Edwardsville IL

My name is Doug Havens.  I was employed at the Wildey while in high school from November 1977 - May 1979.  My friend, David Dunn, helped me get the job.  My first day was on Thanksgiving Day.

I worked for Mrs. Verna Duffy.  She was a no-nonsense boss, but she had her soft moments.  I can remember standing at her office door while she spoke to me.  Her office was very small, and she smoked.  I always found it best to stand in her opened doorway.

As an usher, my main job was to take tickets at the door.  We wore black pants, white shirts, a tie, and a red jacket.  In the summer we steamed in that place.  During the winter months, we tried to get people in the door in a hurry so we could get the heat through the lobby.

I remember my clothes always smelled like popcorn.  Mrs. Duffy would have our jackets cleaned, but I don't think the smell ever came out of them.  To this day, I think of the Wildey when I smell popcorn.

A few of the chores I can remember doing is taking the big 35mm reels to the projection booth.  They came in big heavy cases.  They were quite heavy for even a young fairly strong guy.  Changing the bulbs, signs, and posters in the front was always a fairly easy job.  However, once in a while we had to fight the elements--snow, rain, cold, etc.  It could get a little windy on the ladder during the winter months.

Mother's Catering Service used to deliver our ice.  I can recall having to carry many bags of ice back stage and storing them in the two coolers. When the employees at the counter were out of ice, the ushers would be directed to bring more to the front.  We would also bring candy and soft drink syrup up from the back.

Beneath the old stage was a room where all the old movie posters were kept. There were quite a few old ones back there at the time.  Once in a while, Mrs. Duffy would allow us to keep one if we asked.

The whole back stage area was dusty.  There was not much back there. However, I do remember a couple of old pianos sitting back there.  I am sure they had not been played in years.  As I remember, the ivory was coming off of the keys.

One of the best parts of being an employee was being able to see the movies for free.  The balcony was always closed unless we had big crowds.  I would always take my girlfriend to the balcony to see the latest movie.  It was always very quiet, and allowed for privacy.

I would say that most of us who worked at the Wildey felt very fortunate to have a job there as teenagers.  The work was easy, and the pay was about average for those of us under 18 years of age.  I made about $1.80 an hour. I would get paid about $60-$80 every two weeks, but I always felt like I had money.

I can remember when "Preach" would come to see us.  Mrs. Duffy would always wonder when "Marvin" was going to come and see her.  I think she would pay him to get her a paper, or a cup of coffee.  He always brightened up our day when he dropped in.  Of course, he would tell us younger guys to watch ourselves, and then he would show us his badge.

I left the Wildey when I graduated from EHS in 1979, and entered the U.S. Navy.  I saw Mrs. Duffy for the last time in about 1981 when I was home on leave.  The Wildey was a great place, and the only place I saw a movie until I was about 17.  Who could complain about seeing a movie for a buck!!  I am glad that you are collecting people's memories of the place.  If I can add anything else, please email me.

Sincerely, Doug Havens
Orange Park, FL

It was December 1978, and "Mommy" needed time to wrap Christmas presents (Santa's helper) without the help of our 2 ½ year old daughter. I came up with the brilliant idea of taking her to the Wildey Theatre to see The Muppet Movie. We were in the process of potty training her, so I was a little apprehensive about the prospect of a couple of hours away from familiar surroundings. Since I was a first time parent (and didn't know any better), I threw caution to the wind and away we went to the afternoon matinee. She was fascinated by the theatre and people. When the movie began she was mystified by the animation and sat on the edge of her seat watching intently.

About a half-hour into the movie she had to "go potty". (Veteran Wildey Theatre patrons will remember that the restrooms were equipped with wall-mounted metal dispensers that offered little individual squares of toilet paper, one at a time.) After going potty, I found that she was fascinated by the child-size small individual pieces of toilet paper. She insisted we put a few in her pocket to take back to our seats. Little did I know that this would be the first of numerous trips to the restroom, most of which were just a ruse to get more paper. When we arrived home after the movie, my daughter proudly showed her mother the little squares of toilet paper that she had carefully stuffed in every pants and coat pocket. I am convinced that she enjoyed the trips to "potty" more than the movie. I understand the movie was good. The rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it.

Mart Fogle - Edwardsville

I remember attending Star Wars with my dad right after my brother was born in 1977 - most likely to give my mom some time to rest. We sat in the balcony and it was packed. I enjoyed the time with my dad, since I had been used to being the center of attention for 6½ years!

Many birthday parties and other events included a trip to the Wildey to see movies, such as "Popeye" with Robin Williams when I was around 10 or 11 years old.

I also remember "working" at the Wildey in the mid-80s during its short time showing classic movies on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  My friend and I volunteered to work the concession stand in the lobby in exchange for tickets to another show.  I remember "It Happened One Night" and "Romeo and Juliet" and think about how this experience made my interest in classic movies and drama grow.

I remember attending concerts of local bands at the Wildey when I was in High School. Some bands included The Boys Next Door, later known as Alazone, from Edwardsville and the Undecided from Alton. Some of the seats at the front of the theater had been removed so we had room to dance at the foot of the stage.

Finally, I remember the Edwardsville Class of 1989 After-Prom party was held upstairs at the Wildey. We had a DJ and lots of giveaways to bring us back to town from our evening on the Admiral boat in St. Louis.

What a great place!  We lose too many landmarks so I hope this one is able to remain for a long time. I hope that I can take my young son to see a movie or event there someday!

Thanks for the opportunity to reminisce.

Stephanie Knecht-Renken

As I was talking to my parents on the phone, my father mentioned the Wildey Theatre Project and that they were looking for people to tell stories of their experiences.  As I ventured through the website the memories came flooding back from all those years ago.  Reading the entries from Dave Dunn, Doug Haven (by the way Doug I remember your first day on the job too!), Robyn Payne (Gregg a brother-in-law to Jon was one of the other projectionists and we stayed in contact until I left McDonnell Douglas in 1990) really brought me back to all the fun we had. 

I worked at the Wildey from 1975 (started at $1.10 and hour) to early 1980 ($4.25 an hour).  The Concession Counter was my first position.  I remember the popcorn fights that would break out between the ushers and concession staff.  All of us trying to get it cleaned up before Mrs. Duffy caught on to what we had done….for some reason I think she knew, but we all thought we were getting by with something big.  Of course there were times that she did catch us and we were all convinced that our next breath was going to be our last. 

I think I prefer the taste of stale popcorn to fresh.  Wildey alum, do you remember the tall, plastic bags that we would fill with leftover popcorn and put in the storage closet?  We would use it the next day as the starter popcorn, popping only one or two new batches and mix it in (there are probably a large number of people reading this and thinking "yuck!"). 

I think the job that I was glad someone else had was when the Ushers had to go to the area under the stage to retrieve bags of un-popped popcorn or cases of candy.  I went once and that was enough.  It was dark and dingy, and just overall pretty scary.  I really wasn't keen on going back any time soon and don't think I ever did come to think of it. 

We had this whole "torture" scenario that played out every Sunday night in the Concession area…..it had an official name – Inventory.  I think it was the Usher's main goal in life to make the Concession staff's lives miserable.  We would count the boxes of candy in the case and if we didn't get the back of the case on and locked fast enough, mysteriously a box (or two, or three) would disappear and we would have to count again….then mysteriously the box(s) would reappear, resulting in another recount.  I was always amazed how fast an Usher could reach across the counter and swipe the box without us knowing it……or mysteriously make a half stack of popcorn boxes or soda cups disappear – just long enough to force us to have to count again, and again, and again…..  Not to worry we got our retaliation. 

Of course inventory wasn't the only point of torture.  The candy had to be in perfectly straight rows.  Mrs. Duffy performed checks of the case at least four times a night.  It had to be stocked and it had to be in perfect rows….invariably just as she would come out of her office someone would run over and make a mess of the candy case that faced towards the doors and then stand back and watch as we scrambled to try to get it straight before she saw it.  Sometimes we were successful – sometimes we weren't……we would get a lecture on the candy presentation and condition of the case.  The Usher's would stand in the corner and chuckle.  Our only retaliation to the situation would be to throw popcorn out on the floor just as she was coming out of the office.  She was as fastidious about the floor being free of popcorn as she was about the candy being straight in the cases.  She would just have a fit about the popcorn on the floor.  Of course it was our turn to stand back and laugh. 

We won't even discuss the constant hiding of the keys that were for the storage room and the candy cases.  I can't even begin to tell you how frequently they were swiped, with the concession staff being none the wiser…..until we needed to get into the storage room or lock the candy cases.  Panic would set in and finally just before blood was going to be spilled, the keys would miraculously reappear.  The other fun they would have (if there were two Ushers working) was to play "keep away" with the keys. 

Dave Dunn, I remember you hanging off the rickety ladder…..in fact I think I had to help hold that ladder more than once for the Ushers….that was when we would get another small form of "Concession Stand" revenge.  Like waiting until you were at the very top and letting go or just slightly shaking the ladder…..you guys caught on so we weren't allowed to help very often…..generally we only had the opportunity when you were desperate and no one else was available.  But you know what? It was just enough to make us feel like we got some small form of payback for the whole inventory torture!

I remember picking the lock on one of the glass display cases outside of the theater.  It was Thursday night and we were changing movies for Friday.  This required the poster to be changed.  The Usher changing the poster put the padlock on the display case and locked it, having forgotten to remove the keys from the bottom of the case.  Panic set in as they didn't want Mrs. Duffy to know they had locked the keys in the display case.  Luckily I had a bobby pin and the locks weren't all that secure.  The keys were retrieved and she was none the wiser.  You will be happy to know that I did not pursue a career picking locks. 

I moved into the Ticket Booth sometime in late 1976.  Things never seemed to change much – still no calculator, the list with the ticket price multiplied by the number of adults or children; the old fan that did a dismal job of cooling the ticket booth in the dead of summer when the evening sun boiled in; the old radiator that failed to work more times than it worked, but when it did – it worked overtime.  I think I can chalk up my lack of complexion problems to the constant steam baths that I received compliments of that radiator.  I didn't realize one of the perks of the job was a sauna. 

The busiest night I ever had was opening night for Star Wars – the phone rang off the hook, people were lined up down the sidewalk in front of Edwardsville Frozen Foods, around the corner of the building and down the side almost to their back door.  It was the largest grossing night the Wildey had in very long time (actually I think it was the largest grossing night ever for the theatre).  For at least two weeks we sold out every showing and added showings to accommodate the demand.  I seem to remember the movie running for at least four weeks and I think it actually ran for six. 

In 1978 we had the opportunity to have a premier of a move filmed in Edwardsville.  "Stingray," with Chris Mitchum and Sherry Jackson, opened at the Wildey.  It was not the best movie ever made – but for Edwardsville, the Wildey, and those of us that got to work that night, it was a big night. 

It never ceased to amaze me that after I quit and up until I moved from the Edwardsville area in 1994, someone would recognize me at the grocery store or some other place in town as "the girl that worked in the ticket booth at the Wildey."

As you read through this you are probably wondering if we really got along.  All the "torture" was all in good fun.  It was part of being a member of a large, extended, family.  Some of us were closer to one another than we were to others, but overall we were all part of this wonderful family. 

Here is to some great memories, wonderful friends and the memory of those friends that are no longer with us (Mrs. Duffy and Craig Gerhardt who will be forever in my heart).

Deb (Nettleton) Brenamen
Monroe, MI

Before starting at the Wildey at age 17, I worked at the Sharon Theater in Bunker Hill for about two years. The owner of the Sharon Theater offered me the job at the Wildey. At that time, the projectionist at the Wildey was going to a different theater and they needed a replacement. It paid $5.25 an hour. I worked every night from 6:30 to 11.

The movie Sting Ray was filmed in Edwardsville. For that, I ran the projector every day to show the directors how the movie was going. These were called dailies. I ran the dailies for the director and a whole group with him. They would develop it and bring it to the Wildey. I would show it and give it back to the director and they'd edit it. I saw Sting Ray more times than I want to admit.

Whenever black circles appeared on the screen, it meant that it was time for a new reel. When that happened, the crowd would boo because all they would see was a big light. Then I would have to take time to change the reel. It did happen more than I like.

One time I totaled the car on my way to work. I still got there about 10 minutes late. On Friday nights, I was normally there a half hour prior to the start. The crowd applauded when the movie finally started.

I remember one time there was some kind of Arabian sword fighting movie one Saturday for the afternoon matinee. Each reel leader was numbered and the order had been switched. So the reels were out of order and there was no continuity. But the kids never noticed. They had no clue. They were grade school age kids and it was a sword-fighting action movie and the plot didn't mean a thing to them.

Jon Payne, Edwardsville

Wow!  Doug Havens ~ David Dunn ~ Mary Eihausen:  How fun to hear those folks' names!

I recall/remember: Tina Greer (ticket taker), Tony Dodson (usher), Danny Semanison (a/k/a Bucky = usher): "Mick" Steve Arnold:

When Semi was ushering . . . specifically recall attending Cheech & Chong's "Up in Smoke" -- " . . . my momma sock it to me try to tell me how to live . . . I never listen to her cuz my head is like a sive . . ."

Under Mick's reign, I got the opportunity to check out the bowels of the place, walk around (behind) the "silver screen" when movies were running: (how neat: hardwood stage ~ I could see "all the people" in the audience watching the movie ~ remember ladders . . . props scattered all about); was also able to hang out in the projector room . . .

Don't remember how it was accomplished but, I'm thinking that, through the projector room somehow, Mark Kane & I were able to and did go up and out on the roof:  And I mean the "tippy top" roof.  And oh my God what a beautiful sight!  We could see all of Edwardsville! How neat!  Sure would love to get back up there some day . . .

Sarah Mateyka

Married couples never forget their first date, and I remember mine. Steve McQueen was there. So was Paul Newman.

The setting was the Wildey Theatre in downtown Edwardsville, and the date was June 4, 1975. It was a Wednesday, and on the movie screen that day, just beyond the huge, asbestos, fire-retardant curtain, was a showing of "The Towering Inferno."

As Sue and I snuggled up to popcorn and sticky floors that evening, we knew we were experiencing something special. The Wildey had an ambiance all its own, and since we were both used to the movie house from years of Saturday kid matinees, it was a simple transition to enjoy it as a couple.

After a great movie, we went for pizza, and by the end of that first date, I had spent less than $20 — and that includes the cost of gas.

It was a memorable evening, and the lady alongside has now stuck with me for 33 years and a lot of movies. I'm guessing it is my ability to keep her entertained that continues to do the trick. It certainly isn't my money.

All this rambling down memory lane is going to score points on the home front, but it's really not for my personal benefit. Edwardsville Alderman Rich Walker is coordinating an effort to collect memories of the theater as part of the celebration of the building's 100th anniversary in 2009.

There are only a handful of theaters remaining like the Wildey. It was born out of vaudeville and died with the arrival of the multiplex.

Anybody alive today, who lived in Edwardsville before 1984 when the theater closed, remembers going to the Wildey. Except for some facade work done in recent years as part of an ongoing preservation effort, the building looks no different than when I went there in 1961 to see my first big-screen movie: "101 Dalmatians."

My mom took me then, just as she took me and my brother many other times, until we were old enough to drive ourselves. That early exposure led to my lifelong love of movies.

In fact, I'm sure it was the influence of the Wildey that prompted me to pass on a love of films to my three children, particularly my oldest son, Rob. Today, he is house manager of ShowPlace 12 Theater in Edwardsville — and a very good movie critic for the Edwardsville paper.

Rich Walker was asking for memories, and I'm glad to pass these along. They are perhaps a little melodramatic, but then so are the movies in general.

Isn't it funny how life is so very much like art?

Dennis Grubaugh

Growing up in Edwardsville the Wildey was just a part of life. We went almost every Sunday afternoon for thirty-five cents. My church would rent out the hall upstairs for Mother-Daughter banquets every May.  In about 1973, I got a job at the Wildey and that is where most of my memories are from.  I worked as a candy counter girl most of my time for ninety-five cents an hour. I got promoted to the ticket booth later and made $1.10 an hour. We had a lot of fun.  Yes, we worked almost every Friday and Saturday night, but we were almost always out by 9:30 or 10:00. That still gave us time to have some fun before curfew.

Mrs. Duffy was one of a kind.  She could scare the pants off of you. She could also be very nice, but she didn't like to show that side of herself.  She always had her hair in a French roll with a gray weekly tint on it.  Fridays she look great.  By Thursday her hair was almost white because she had rubbed all the tint off.  She was a perfectionist.  We didn't have a cash register or calculator, we added all the prices in our head.  At the end of the night we counted every popcorn cup, every soda cup, and every candy box.  She would then tell us how much money should be in our cash drawer and it had better match up.  During the week between movies (because we always showed the movie twice a night) if our work was done she didn't mind if we pulled out the homework.  More than once when she saw me struggling with homework, she would ask what was the problem.  I would always tell her and she always could figure it out in about thirty seconds.  She didn't mind helping you but she liked to make you feel stupid for not getting it.  That was just her personality.  She never wanted to be your friend, she was the boss and always demanded respect.  The most fun was working with your friends and the stunts we would pull.  We had to pay for anything if we wanted it.  At our wages we couldn't really afford movie prices.  More  than once if we needed a drink, we would get a soda cup, get our drink, rinse the cup out in the drinking fountain and put it back.  If we needed a snack we would open a candy box and have a couple of pieces.  I always felt bad about that one because the prices were pretty high and you got less than you were suppose to.  Now the candy boxes are wrapped or are glued shut so I think if you buy candy now at the movies, you get all you are suppose to.  I worked with Sharon Vieth, Sandy Dickerson, Steve Arnold, Mike Weber, Mark Gerhert, Tom Fralinger, of course Carol (forgot her last name).  I sure there are a few others.

A really fun night for us would be when the gypsy's would come to town for a funeral. They would all come in and buy popcorn and candy.  They would be all over it seemed like hundreds of them.  I worked at the Wildey until after high school.  I got a "real" job in the fall and then had to quit.  I still love all the memories.  I wanted so bad to go to the celebration this summer but I was out of town that weekend.  Let's not forget the time they made her have and "X" rated movie.  Mrs. Duffy was totally beside herself.  She was always very strict with the works and the rating on the movies. If you were not 17 you could not enter the theater at any time if the movie was rated "R." She just didn't know how she was going to handle the "X" rating with all of the young workers.  I remember working the candy counter and it was interesting at my age to see who came in to see the movie.  I don't think they ever showed another "X." it just didn't go over big in Edwardsville.

It was a great job other than the pay for a high school kid. It seems I could go on and on. I miss seeing the ticket booth outside. It was one cozy box. No heat, no air, but I think everyone loved it for what it was.

Paula Dutton Leone

Hi my name is Julie Worthen (nee Sommerfeldt). When I was five years old in 1978 my parents took me to see my first movie in the Wildey theatre "Star Wars"! Two greats at one time.

Julie Worthen
Edwardsville, Illinois