Before the last frame of celluloid rolled off the reel, Jacob was yanking the curtain closed with one hand, raising the house lights with another and jerking his head for the intermission singers to get on with it.
Jacob burst out into the house like some had set a firecracker off under his rear. He only had three songs to get up to the projection booth and load the next film.
Bounding up the stairs, he found the Theatorium’s owner, Mr. Dinstuhl, sitting on the landing, shoulders slumped.
“Sir?” Jacob asked, unaccustomed to seeing his hardworking boss like this.
“Ah, Jacob, my boy” Mr. Dinstuhl looked up with a weak smile. Then, without warning, asked, “How are you at making candy?”
“I dunno? I just run the projectors.”
“You know, I opened this nickelodeon to sell candy. Chocolates, toffees, brittles. I could give two shakes about the movies, I just wanted to sell these rubes sweets. Now they all want something called ‘popped corn’. Popped corn! What the hell is that? Killing my margins, that’s what. Gonna have to sell the blasted theatre to make up for it.
“So, let me rephrase. Would you like to learn to make candy?”
The Theatorium was Memphis’s first official nickelodeon. Films were the main draw, with live acts only being used between features. The theatre was opened by Charles Dinstuhl, who owned a confectionary next door. He rightly saw the theatre as a way to increase his customer base. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much interest in the movies or the business of running a theatre, and when pop corn began to over take candy sales, he pulled out of the movie business. Which was probably a for the best, since he went on to found the legendary Dinstuhl Fine Candy Company.