Century in St. Cloud: Former Paramount Employee Shares Memories
ST. CLOUD -- The Paramount Theatre in downtown St. Cloud is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. A former employee, Margaret Lengas, shares her memories from her time working there when it was still a movie theater from 1978 until it closed in 1983.
Lengas describes it as 'the most incredible job she's ever had'. She started as a temporary fill-in when she was a junior in high school. After two days of training, she worked the afternoon showing of the movie "Annie Hall".
What I didn't realize was that the next movie to start that night was Jaws, so after just two days of getting my feet wet we had massive crowds. I mean they were crazy for weeks. But, I was hooked, the adrenaline was amazing.
Lengas says when the girl she was filling in for came back from vacation she begged to be kept on. She started out as a candy girl behind the counter, then was the first female usher, then moved on to ticket sales, and eventually became the assistant manager.
While it was still primarily a movie theater during that period there were few live performers. She says the biggest she can recall was Rick Nelson, whose management team insisted the staff not call him "Ricky".
The Paramount Theatre stopped being a movie theater in 1983 when then owners Plitt Theatres announced the closure. Lengas says the staff was tasked with helping to clean out the theater and that is when she found a box of old glass photo plates way up in the rafters. She says there were about 500 glass slides with black and white images of children from the 1930s.
They were just children there were no adults. The photographer had hand-written the family name at the bottom of each slide. We're talking a piece of glass about three inches by four inches with a positive black and white image on it of these adorable children in their cute little knickers and stuff.
Lengas kept the slides and made it her mission to reunite each slide with the family written on them. So far she's successfully done that with about 200 of the 500 slides. She cataloged them by hand in alphabetical order.
Earlier this year she passed the remaining slides back over to the staff at the Paramount who also have the full Excel spreadsheet list with all the names for anyone who might have had a family member who would have gone to the Paramount as a child back in the 1930s.
Once a month in our ongoing series "A Century In St. Cloud" we feature the history of the 100-year-old building in downtown St. Cloud on the News @ Noon Show.
Coming up on Thursday, August 26th the Paramount is hosting a free outdoor block party with live music, artists' booths, and demonstrations.
New Sculpture Celebrates Paramount's 100th Anniversary