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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Silence is Golden

     The silence I'm talking about in the title is in reference to the silent movie era. Before "talkies" took over, movies were accompanied with live music, frequently with an organ. On our recent visit to California we had an opportunity to experience a trip back in time. Our daughter's mother-in-law, Olga, discovered a jewel near by. The Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo, California.

      The Music Hall was opened in 1968 by two musicians, Bill Field and Bill Coffman, after they bought a 1925 Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ.  To this day the Music Hall continues to entertain with vintage silent and sound movies as well as ragtime, jazz and pipe organ live concerts.

     Since we had never been before and didn't know what to expect, we gasped with delight after entering the theater through the velvet curtained entry. Besides the lovely interior we were serenaded by a player piano. 

     Bill Field, although now in a wheelchair, continues to play the organ at the theater. There is something going on every weekend. We had the opportunity to see the All Star Comedy Festival. It was a selection of silent and early black & white sound comedies. We were first treated to a ragtime selection on the above piano by a talented musician. Then Bill came out and played a medley on this beautiful Wurlitzer organ. There was a sing along also. The theater is small so it made for an intimate gathering with everyone joining the fun. 

     The silent movie shorts came next with Bill accompanying on the organ. I was surprised by how much laughter was evoked by these old movies. Where the majority of the humor is physical. After a short intermission the fun continued with the black & white sound movies. Laurel & Hardy, Our Gang and W.C. Fields were featured. We all left the theater with smiles on our faces. Olga was made aware of the Old Time Music Hall by a friend who doesn't even live in California, isn't that always the way. We are just grateful to have had the opportunity to experience this wonderful slice of history. Maybe next time we visit we'll see one of the live concerts.

A thought to ponder: "Always find a reason to laugh. It may not add years to your life, but will surely add life to your years."


  1. Those photos are beautiful - what an amazing theatre! Things were so much more glamorous.We don't get the experience of silent movies at our local cinema, but it is old and small and I love that you can buy coffee or tea and it's served to you in a crockery cup with saucer.

  2. You sure described this correct..a jewel! How beautiful. So happy that you got to experience this.

  3. I need to check this out. Our son and his wife recently moved to Santa Monica which isn't that far from El Segundo. We might be able to make a fun weekend out of a visit.

    Thanks for sharing at SYC.

  4. Our town has the Patricia Theatre that opened in 1913 then moved to its current location in 1928. The theatre in your picture reminds me of it, even though ours is larger inside. It went digital several years ago to continue showing movies that only are available in that format nowadays. Other than that, it is a step back into history every time you enter the doors. - Margy