Even though my Dad was the manager and was usually working when I was, I had more contact with his assistants when I was on the job. As manager he had more important things to do than supervise the floor staff, i.e. the doormen and ushers. That chore fell to the assistant manager. The manager looked after the ticket and concession cashiers, the ones most responsible for the money coming in.
Many assistant managers passed through the Renton Cinemas. Some went on to become full managers, either for GCC as it expanded in the area (and elsewhere), or taking a position with the opposition. And some just couldn’t cut it, and moved on to other businesses, one with more humane hours.
Warren was an odd duck. Full of advice for younger people, though I don’t believe he was much older than thirty himself. He had a wife and a child, but he never brought them around the theater. In fact, in many ways he didn’t act married. He came by himself to company parties, sporting an eye-patch when it was a costume party, like the character from the Brenda Starr comic. He left employment under suspicion.
Mr Lambert wasn’t much older than a lot of us, and looked younger. He was a Marine vet, having done a tour in Vietnam. But what intrigued us most – he had been a member of a local rock band – a one hit wonder, and as such had shared the stage with a big group as an opening act (I thought it was either the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, but have yet been unable to verify). We were glad for him when he moved on to a better job, but sad for ourselves, for he was fun to work with.
Then there was my Uncle Bud, married to my mom’s sister. He came to show business after a twenty year career in the Air Force. Hailing from Rome, Georgia, my dad always called him Rebel. Of course in return he always referred to my dad as Yank. So there was a good-natured back and forth, as they bantered in the office during closing on weekends. To me he was more of a “Dutch uncle” who offered advice on life and did his best to push my girlfriend and me together – though he did tease her mercilessly at every opportunity. He later became a theater owner himself down in Puyallup and then built a little twin cinema in Long Beach Washington. He’s gone now. I’ll always remember the missing man formation of C-130s that came in low and slow over his gravesite at his memorial service.
A few years later, I myself joined the ranks of wild assistant managers. But those stories are for another day.