by BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD — Click here to watch the video
Working with the singular mantra: “Tonight, Bluefield is back in business,” the Bluefield Preservation Society took the first step in reinvigorating Bluefield’s Depot District with the reopening of “the great, majestic Granada Theater,” Debrah Ammar said to an audience of more than 200 who turned out to see Blue Highway christen the dawn of downtown Bluefield’s rebirth.
“We can’t stop with just the opening of the Granada,” Sara Helmadollar said a few minutes before Ammar took the stage to welcome people to the Granada. “It’s going to take everybody working together — private citizens, civic clubs, organizations, any and everybody who wants to see Bluefield make a come back. Shop locally! It takes everybody to go and support the town.”
The three Cole brothers — Bill, Charlie and Tom, and their businesses, the Bill Cole Auto Mall, Cole Harley-Davidson and Cole Chevrolet Cadillac — sponsored the performance of Blue Highway, one of bluegrass music’s hot bands, to make the evening a memorable musical experience, but the memories flooded through the minds of many attending the show.
“I remember when daddy brought us up here to go to the movies,” Frances (McGonagle) Almond of Stanfield, N.C., said as she waited to enter the theater with her brother and sister-in-law, Chuck and Heather McGonagle. “He gave each of us 20 cents. I told Heather that it’s been a long time since I walked down that hill.”
Just before the band started playing, Gary Denardo and Frances Mamone stood in the theater trading stories of movies they had seen at the old theater. Denardo remembered “Love Story,” while Mamone recalled seeing “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes,” and “The Love Boat,” among others.
“It was less than a dollar to get in, and I would always buy a soft drink, popcorn and Junior Mints,” Denardo said.
“What about Jujubes?” Mamone asked. “I always got Jujubes.”
Betsy Sorrell was excited just to work the ticket booth at the theater opening. “Working opening night at the Granada Theater? How can it get better than this? I told Skip Crane what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be the ticket taker at the Granada Theater.”