More Stories Behind the Signs

RECEIVED Fri., Jan. 31, 2020

Dear Editor,
    I read your publication every week. I've done so for years. Imagine my delight when I opened The Austin Chronicle (January 31, 2020 issue) to page 22 ["The Stories Behind Austin’s Iconic Signs"]. The story by Jessi Cape and Richard Whittaker is about the neon signs that help shape Austin's cultural landscape.
    What caught my attention were the three pictures on page 22: the signs for the Paramount, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, and AFS Cinema. I have a direct connection to all these theatres.
    I met John, the projectionist at the Paramount, at a screening of Buster Keaton's The General several years ago at UT. He invited me to visit him in the projection booth at the Paramount. He even allowed me to load up reel 1 of Casablanca! This was a highlight of my movie-loving life.
    Before the Austin Film Society established their cinema at their present location, the building housed the Lincoln Six Theater. In 1997 I worked there as a manager. I'll never forget carrying the 35mm print of Titanic across the parking lot to a smaller auditorium at the annex. It took two of us to carry the movie as the whole print was on a massive reel. This was after the film had just about finished its long run. 
    Finally, my connection to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema: I met Tim and Karrie League while they were in the process of converting an old parking garage on Colorado Street into the first Alamo Drafthouse. After doing volunteer work the Leagues asked me if I wanted a job. I wasn't keen on waiting on customers so I sold the first ticket on opening day. I was the first employee of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which is now a chain of over 40 cinemas.
    Thanks for bringing back all these wonderful cinematic memories!
Hector M. Barrientos
Austin, Texas
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