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Warwick Stories
arwick Stories

Though I am not a writer by any means I do dabble as one as a hobby. Like a weekend golfer, at best I am a "duffer" as a literary person. Still I have scribbled many half finished stories over the years and not a few have been about Warwick. Some of you have proposed sharing your stories so I thought I would risk starting the ball rolling. Please send any and all, long or short.

Below is a story from Millie Sudman about Greenwood Lake and one I wrote about Monk Crover that I have kept for years.
More to come.

        Greenwood Lake Ice Skating
        Monk Crover
        Bubble Gum
        At the Movies
        Main Street
        Poley and Augie

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                        Warwick in the 1950’s - Heiblim’s and the Oakland Theater


In the early 1950s there was a movie theatre in Warwick named the Oakland Theatre. Just down from the theater, the other side of the Dispatch building and an arm’s length from the L & H tracks, was a store which everyone called Heiblim’s. It was a newspaper store in the morning, lunch counter at noon and candy store after school. When a freight train rumbled past, the walls shook and cars backed up outside, on Main Street and Oakland Avenue.


On movie nights most kids went to Heiblim’s first. The sign out front said “Warwick Novelty Shop” but no one used that name. Harry and Minna Heiblim sold candy, newspapers and magazines but they also had a soda fountain and a pinball machine, and on Saturday nights a popcorn machine went full blast until just before the movie started.


My crowd was in the pre-teen stage of life in the early 1950s. We had just begun combing our hair in pompadours, slick in the front, but still a cowlick mess in the back. Our faces were boyish smooth. It was before pimples and years ahead of whiskers. We wore plaid shirts that our mom’s had picked out and dungarees rolled up into big cuffs. Our shoe laces were tied in double knots. We didn’t say much, and didn’t move around a lot either when we went into Heiblim’s. We bought some candy for the movies, ate a few bites and saved the rest to throw around in the theatre. Black Crows and Dots were the missiles of choice.  We stuck around a while staring at the big kids, the boys and girls at the ice cream counter or the group crowded at the pin ball machine.  We stood in an open area, at a safe distance, and looked. We stuck our thumbs into our front pockets, cowboy style, in an effort to make us look older, bigger.  After a while we left and walked the half a block up Oakland Avenue to the theatre.


At the movies we bought under twelve tickets for 35 cents, determined to squeeze another year out of our kiddish appearance. Wizzie, - Clint Wisner, the theatre owner, and his wife Henrietta - gave us suspicious looks (well deserved) as we handed over the tickets and walked inside.  


Our group got to the movies early. At first we sat on the side near the exit door. We didn’t stay there long. As soon as girls our age came in we moved behind them, maybe five rows back. Once there, it wasn’t long before someone pegged a Black Crow toward the back of a girl’s head. This started the communication process going.


We slouched down in our seats and drew our coats over our chests and shoulders, and looked innocent. The girls bounced in their seats, looking back every now and then.


“Take another look,” we would say.


When Brad Piggery came in, he and I would sit together and talk baseball. Brad liked the Dodgers. I was a Cardinal fan. We had fierce arguments about who was better, Red Schoendinst versus Peewee Reese, Enos Slaughter or Carl Furillo, Stan Musial or Jackie Robinson. Our talk was heated but I never enjoyed anything so much at age twelve as these friendly conversations with Brad. Once we got rolling we shut out everything else and other kids moved away saying they couldn’t stand to be around us when we talked baseball.


The Oakland theatre had a balcony and a main level. The balcony was where people smoked and did serious necking. We went up there once in a while, not to smoke or neck, but just to fool around. I recall Smokey Joe Carr being up there a lot. Smokey was a worldly fellow, a few years our senior. He was a hard working lad that invoked respect from all. Shortly after Smokey got out of high school he moved into his own room at the Demarest Hotel. We thought that was quite manly. When Smokey talked about his plans and dreams he had our attention. One evening, before the picture started, we gathered around and he announced, “I’m going to Texas.”


“Gees, we said. “What are you going to do there?” 


“Are you kidding? Man alive, Texas is not Warwick. Texas is big; you can do anything in Texas. Probably work the oil fields. There’s good money there. It’s the wide open spaces.”


We were impressed.


We knew a lot about Texas. The movies had shown us Texas inside and out; deserts, cactus plants and blowing tumbleweeds, saloons, cowboys, horses and cows, outlaws, and sheriffs and probably oil wells and lots of wide open spaces too. Smokey would do well in Texas. He’d be a good guy, a hard worker like he was here.


Smokey told us a fascinating story once, about how one night he met a girl from out of town at the diner and he took her to the movies, up in the balcony, and they necked all night and then she left town after the movie was over. That was something like a Texas story which we could see happening to Smokey in Texas, except he’d be the one breezing in and out of town.


The very back corner of the balcony was where lonely men sat. I didn’t know anyone that was lonely when I was twelve, but for some reason I assumed these men were lonely. We would run into them, before the show, when we’d thunder up the stairs to the balcony. They came in early like us, but unlike us, sat alone and quiet, reading a magazine or newspaper. They stared at us through the dim light but never spoke.


Another group in the balcony besides the smokers, the neckers and the lonely men was the kids that snuck in. During my era – I was twelve in 1952 - the point of entry for “sneak ins” was a ramp like cellar door in the back of the theatre. The sneak-ins were always around our age. Older kids didn’t do it, nor did girls. On any given night it was maybe two or three kids at the most. For illegal things like this it wasn’t good to bring in a whole grade. Once inside, sneak-ins had to stay out of sight. This meant curling up in a ball, fetal like, under a seat on the floor, in some far corner of the theatre, until previews started and it was safe to blend in. Still, you had to be careful all night not to run into Wiz, because he would recognize that you didn’t pay.


I can only remember sneaking in once, though I might have done it more. There was a considerable amount of pressure to sneak in if you were asked to join the group. A couple of guys were the leaders of this endeavor. I won’t mention their names here because they’re outstanding town citizens today.


Anyway, as luck would have it, my dad heard about it. Somehow word got to the cops that groups of kids were sneaking into the movies on Saturday nights. From there the story circulated.  Parents talked about it at the dinner table. I denied all knowledge and involvement. I figured since no one was caught red handed I was safe. What I didn’t plan on was Greggie Brown telling his dad about it. Cle Brown laughed about things like this and I’m sure he thought it was funny when he implicated me and relayed the story to my dad. My dad might have laughed too, I don’t know. The problem was I had already claimed innocence, so my crime became “lying to my father,” which was not funny.


So now I was caught red handed and I remember that I cried when my father came home from work that night. The first thing he said was, “Well what have you got to say for yourself.” I broke down immediately when he walked through the door, which made me feel even worse because I thought  that I had put crying far behind me so long ago… back when I was ten.