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For Don K. I attended the Elvis concert at the Paramount. I was in the 10th grade at Murphy High School. Two older girls (sisters) lived next door to my family in East Lake. They invited me to go. I had never heard of Elvis Presley. We sat on about the second row of the balcony, in the center. I was astonished, and befuddled, by all the screaming by every girl in the house. I just couldn’t figure it out, and I could hardly hear. I certainly didn’t think it was merited. The warm-up act was Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, including June Carter (later June Carter Cash), with Mother Maybelle playing her autoharp in its ‘held-high" position.And of course, they played Wildflower Flower. And, indeed, the Jordonaires (a gospel group, actually) were his back-up group. The photo on this cite reminded me that in those days, ushers always escorted patrons to empty seats with a flashlight, and if you were a party of two and there were single seats on a row, the usher would make people bunch up so thee would be two side-by-side seats for a couple.
I’m not sure all of Mr. Malone’s recollections are accurate. The Piedmont Drive-In was followed by Hastings Nurseries, a huge nursery and retail gardening facility. From there it went to retail and restaurants, and from that to Marta. And I think that the Arlan’s on Ponce de Leon became a huge Asian market before it was torn down for the present large shopping center (Home Depot, Whole Foods, Borders Books,Office Depot, et cetera.). I don’t think the government ever had anything to do with the old Ponce de Leon site. The City of Atlanta bought the old Sear’s distribution center/retail store directly across Ponce de Leon, and it has since been sold to private developers.
George Ellis (“Bestoink Dooley”) was also a stage figure in Atlanta and a TV figure. I think he appeared on TV as Bestoink. I saw him in a Jim Peck play called “Sterioptican,” which had in it one of my favorite lines ever: “Let’s make the humdrum optional.” My first memory of Ellis was when he opened what I believe was his first movie theater, a very small place in back of the downtown YMCA on Spring Street. From there he moved to Ansley Mall, et cetera. I went to his first movie theater on opening night. He offered us a refund (which we refused) because the theater had just that afternoon been treated with fire retardant and the smell of ammonia was almost overwhelming. But we toughed it out. The film was a black and white sub-titled movie about the Spanish Civil War. It was terrific. And he served coffee with whipped cream in the lobby.
I have lived in Atlanta since 1939, and I really think some of the historical comments about this theater and others in the area are wrong. Whatever!! I do remember seeing the original French subtitled version of Diabolique at the Peachtree Art, which is pictured and was at the corner of Peachtree and 13th Street. As a real trivia note (but not to Atlantans), the author of Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, was killed at this site in the early fifties. She was crossing Peachtree to get to the theater with her husband and hesitated in the middle of Peachtree because of oncoming traffic. She was hit by a taxi driven by a drunken driver, and died about five days later, never regaining consciousness.