My name is Russell Bradford, and I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
I am 90 years old and have great memories of the Grand Theater in Donaldsonville.
I go back to the early '40s when I was a Boy Scout. For Boy Scouts’ Day, I was assisted to the corner of Railroad Avenue and the Xray Drug Store. Mr. Max, the theater manager, was repairing the ceiling tiles when the scaffold broke. He fell between the seats, breaking his leg and arm so bad that he lost his arm. I never thought that I would one day be working for him.
The Grand Theater and a nearby theater for black people showed the same movies. I was hired to carry films back and forth between the two theaters on bikes. I was later advanced to ticket collector and usher. We had a popcorn machine that we rolled out front — weather permitting.
I asked Mr. Max and Mr. Bob Hebert about opening a concession stand.
I suggested a spot, but it would take space from Mr. Sidney’s (Marchand) law office.
I was later offered a job at the doughnut shop across the street for the same pay, plus all I could eat doughnuts, soft ice cream cones, hot dogs and hamburgers. Mr. Max and Mr. Bob would come over for coffee. Mr. Max asked me to come back if they would have a concession stand. I agreed to come back.
We built the stand where I had suggested and I was put in charge. We had both sweet and salty popcorn, plus we had a large variety of different types of candy.
I entered the U.S. Navy in March 1948. Every time I came home on leave, I would go to the Grand Theater. Miss Cecile would tell me that my money was no good, but I would have to set up the candy display before going to the movie.
I grew up in the Grand from age 13 to 18. I love remembering the Grand Theater and the people that worked there, especially Mr. Max and Mr. Bob Hebert, Miss Cecile and the many people I met from St. James, Smoke Bend, Belle Rose, across the river and many wonderful people of Donaldsonville.
Life was grand at the Grand Theater.
Virginia Beach, Virginia