Where The Heel?, Part VII

Time for another installment of “Where the Heel?.” Can you identify the location of this building? If so, leave your guess in the “Leave a Reply” portion of the entry. [Yes, I’m in a generous mood today…this one may be easy!]

4 thoughts on “Where The Heel?, Part VII”

  1. Kade, you are correct. My suspicion was also correct; this one was way to easy. I was going to use Photoshop to edit out the name of the theater, but I decided against it. I’ll know better next time.

    Nice work–you’ve got the record on fastest correct response: 8 minutes.

  2. Yes, this is the Gem Theater in downtown Kannapolis, North Carolina. My late father, a World War II veteran who was a tailgunner in a B-24 bomber, remembered going to that theater when he was a child. He saw B-cowboy movies mostly. You know, the Saturday morning westerns that played in such places during the 1930’s and 1940’s. One day back in the 1930’s, B-Western star Ken Maynard did a personal appearance there. My Daddy saw him on stage and he scared everybody when Maynard started firing his cap pistols. But he couldn’t say the town’s name right. Ken Maynard said, “Kanna-POL-is. That must be an Indian name!” Of course, it is pronounced Ka-NAP-o-lis, which is a “Greek” name meaning “city of looms,” in reference to its then-great textile industry, Cannon Mills. (Locals call Kannapolis “K-town” for short, as in things like “K-twon furniture. I think they are still in business up there.)

    Yes, the Gem, located in downtown Kannapolis, is across from either a Baptist or Presbyterian Church, and near a small park and the city pond that used to be in front of Cannon Mills. There is an old jewelry store just around the corner that has been in business since the 1930’s. (Mama and Daddy both got their Cannon High School class rings there. The school is long gone. Burned down back during the 1980’s) In fact, the GEM burned once, I think around the 1930’s or 1940’s, but was rebuilt and refurbished. It’s still in operation and is the only one-screen movie theater still operating in the country. In fact I saw Tom Hanks in “Big” there back in 1998 and “The Little Rascals” movie there as well in 1994.

    When I saw “Big” in 1988, I was staying in Kannapolis with my grandmother, who had recently had cataract surgery on her eyes. It was November, around the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Unbeknownst to me, I had dropped my wallet in one of the theater seats. I get to my grandmothers, and late at night I get a call from Lady’s Funeral Home on Cannon Blvd. in Kannapolis. Needless to say, I’m wondering why a funeral home would be calling me of all people late at night, and I don’t even live in Kannapolis! It turned out it was a Mr. Yarborough, who worked nights at this funeral home. You see, he also worked as a manger at the Gem Theater in the evenings, and someone had found my dropped wallet on the floor. So, he took it to the funeral home and called me from there and wanted to know if I would like to pick it up. (Is the town of Kannapolis honest, or what?) I told him I would be right over there that night. I drove my aunt’s LTD station wagon right up to the front of Lady’s Funeral Home, and no kidding, it was midnight! A funeral home at midnight! And on a cold crisp autumnal November night, too! And that place was an imposing structure as well. It used to be “Old Doc Whittier’s” mansion and was very Victorian-looking….and eerie to see at night! I mean if any place would look like it would have ghosts and witches flitting about the roof in the dark…this would be the place. Well, I started going up those long concrete steps, and just like a horror movie, the big wide funeral home doors slowly opened up before I even got near them. But it was just Mr. Yarborough standing there wanting to hand me my wallet that I dropped at the GEM Theater that night. He was a slim rather low-key unassuming man, like most funeral home folks. He told me he stayed there at night “in case a call came in.” “Folks like to pass away during the night sometimes,” he more, or less, told me. Well, I sure was relieved to have my wallet back. And all thanks to the honest folks who worked at the GEM Theater in Kannapolis! Mr. Yarborough has been deceased for many years now, but the funeral home directors think he still roams about the place. I guess he’s ready to “take a call” if he has to. (For the record, I’ve had a lot of relatives pass through Lady’s Funeral Home.) Well, thanks for posting this old card. I ought to send you some of my old Carolina postcards from my personal collection. Have a pleasent autumn day in North Carolina! I am

    Sincerely,
    Dirk Allman
    500 Inwood Dr
    Charlotte, North Carolina 28209

  3. WALTER WEBB
    FREELANCE WRITER
    2919 FAYETTEVILLE STREET
    DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA 27707

    THIS GEM THEATER LOOKS LIKE IT COULD BE A TWIN THEATER FOR THE “CAROLINA
    THEATER IN DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA. IT IS THE SAME BUILDING STRUCTURE. THE
    CAROLINA THEATER IS ALSO SIMILAR TO THE ARLINGTON(VIRGINIA) DRAFT HOUSE
    MOVIE THEATER WHERE BEER IS SOLD. THE CAROLINA IS SITUATED IN THE HEART OF
    DURHAM’S ART AND ART FESTIVAL DISTRICT. IT IS RIGHT BEHIND THE ARTS COUNCIL
    BUILDING AND DOWN THE STREET FROM THE AMERICAN DANCE FESTIVAL SITE.
    AS FAR AS ENTERTAINMENT AND RESTAURANTS ARE CONCERN THERE IS THE
    CHICKEN AND WAFFLE RESTAURANT LOCATED ON MAIN STREET IN ART DISTRICT
    AREA. FOR NIGHTLIFE THERE IS TALK OF THE TOWN JAZZ AND RESTAURANT .

    WALTER WEBB
    FREELANCE WRITER
    2919 FAYETTEVILLE STREET
    DURHAM NC 27707

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