Black & White Sunday: Layers

This is one of those prompts that I find complicated because it’s so simple. It mean so many things and can be interpreted in many ways. I love Paula’s photograph showing layers of history. Lacking layers of history, here are two photographs, the first from me, the second from Garry:


Through the arch passing under Boston’s Statehouse


Through the fence to the iron cowboy in Arizona


Growing up, my favorite theater was the Valencia in Jamaica. No mere movie theater, it was an experience, a Hollywood production its own right. Here with my brother Matthew, I first experienced the glorious, magical world of movies.

It wasn’t my first trip to the movies, but it was my first trip to a real movie palace.

English: Looking northwest across Jamaica Aven...

Looking northwest across Jamaica Avenue at Loews Valencia.

That first excursion to the Valencia was on a rainy Saturday afternoon. With not much else  to do, off we went to see Shane with Alan Ladd. It had just opened at the Valencia. It was 1953. I was five, going on six. When I had to go to the bathroom, I became so enchanted by the theater, I got lost. The ceiling of the Valencia was called “atmospheric,” a dark distant sky full of realistic twinkling stars.

Not to mention the fountains and strange Rococo architecture the likes of which I doubt were ever seen in a “real” building and certainly never by me, even in my imagination. I couldn’t pull my eyes away and eventually forgot where we were seated in that vast building.

An usher with a flashlight had to help me find my family.

I wouldn’t meet Garry until ten years later when we were at college, but we probably crossed paths in that darkened theater. We were fated to meet.

Today, as a Pentecostal Church.

The Valencia was in downtown Jamaica, Queens, about 3 or 4 miles from my house. It opened in 1929 and was the first of the five Loew’s ‘Wonder’ Theaters. Others would be in various parts New York, including Astoria, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. My sister-in-law graduated in the Loew’s Paradise in the Bronx, twin theater to the Valencia.

English: 3-Manual, 8-Rank, Robert-Morton Organ.

The Valencia’s 3-Manual, 8-Rank, Robert-Morton Organ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The decorations are described variously as a mix of Spanish Colonial and pre-Columbian, but that doesn’t do it justice. It was fantasy land, and it was entirely unlike anything in reality. Certainly unlike anything in my reality. The theater was enormous, with seating for 3,554, including a vast orchestra section and several balconies.

Architect John Eberson supposedly based his design on Spanish architecture motifs, using wrought iron railings, ornate tile work, sculpture and murals. I suspect a drug induced hallucinogenic state, but perhaps he just had an amazing imagination.

Its extraordinary combination of brick and glazed terra-cotta outside was purportedly inspired by Spanish and Mexican architecture of the Baroque or “Churrigueresque” period, though I have my doubts about that. Details included elaborate terra-cotta pilasters, cherubs, half-shells, volutes, floral swags, curvilinear gables and decorative finials … and of course within, lay that astonishing “atmospheric ceiling” full of stars.

In 1935, the Valencia began to show double features. By the 1950s, it had become my family’s the “go to” movie theater for a special Saturday afternoon. This continued right through the 1960’s.

The Loew’s Valencia was the most successful movie theatre in Queens. Its location in downtown Jamaica, which was then the primary shopping area in the borough and for Long Island before shopping malls changed all that, combined with the theater’s ability (part of the MGM system) to show new movies a week before any other theater in the borough, made it wildly popular.


The Valencia (Photo credit: ho visto nina volare)

As for me, I’d have happily gone there even if no movie were showing. The theater was a star all by itself. Just those twinkling stars held me transfixed, hypnotized. I would stand staring up at it until someone asked me if I was alright. I was alright, but I was lost. Lost in those twinkling stars.

The Valencia ended its life as a movie theater in May 1977. Since then, it has been the Tabernacle of Prayer for All People church.

At least it was spared the fate of so many other movie palaces. It was not leveled to make way for yet another cookie-cutter cinemaplex. That’s something. And in a way, it’s appropriate. It was always rather like a cathedral.


From PaulaBlack & White Sunday Challenge this week has towering as a theme. Towering can be a building, a person, a mountain, or a tree. Or …



“Towering” is relative. In our small town, a church spire is towering. On Boston’s Beacon Hill, six stories is a tower. In downtown Boston, the sky is the limit … and maybe, not even the sky.


I de-saturated these two photographs of the Prudential Tower in Boston, but left a hint of color. The Prudential Tower changes colors depending on events and weather. Each night of December 2015, the tower was a different color. This specific night was December 13th, lit in support of the Rett Syndrome Association of Massachusetts. The color was purple.

If you’d like to see all the colors of the month, you can follow this LINK.


Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Older than 50 Years

I narrowly avoided the temptation to include pictures of me and all my friends. None of us are exactly “spring chicks” anymore, but that seemed a bit heartless. So I stuck with inanimate objects that don’t worry about whether or not their skin looks like an old suitcase.

Rockport, MA, Boston, Upton, Uxbridge, and Gettysburg, PA are all represented. Bet you can figure out which is which!





BW Antique car wheels 21

75-Pops-BW-NK- 5

Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge Badge


A Photo a Week Challenge: Clocks | Nancy Merrill

Our dogs always know what time it is. In their world, there’s a time (many times) to bark, a time to eat. A time (many times) to sleep. They know when we are going to feed them and in case we might have forgotten, they remind us energetically that it’s time for dinner and why are we lolling about when they are starving. Poor babies!

Dogs don’t need clocks.

We do. Or we think we do, which is probably the same thing.

Maybe if we didn’t have clocks, we would know what time it is without them. After all, for a very long time there were few, if any clocks … especially in rural areas where most folk lived. Yet they knew when it was time to milk, time to weed, hoe, gather, and come in from the field. And when to rise in the morning.

Maybe we only need clocks in the city, or if we are detached from nature. Maybe if we’re in touch with the earth and the light of the sun … time just flows.