Friday, August 13, 2010

Richmond's Byrd Theater ... and a friend from childhood

Richmond's Byrd Theater in Carytown, built in 1928, has been a fixture for years. It's architecture, beauty, and magnificant "Mighty Wurlitzer" organ are leftovers from silent movie days. We used to attend movies there, sometimes meeting up with friends whenever they would show seasonal movies such as White Christmas and Easter Parade.

Friday's article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch was about efforts by those who are raising money to refurbish the theater. Pictured was the Wurlitzer ... and the gentleman seated at it, Bob Gulledge, was a childhood friend who played the piano at Bon Air Baptist Church when we were young.

Back in the old days, the organ was played by Eddie Weaver, an icon in Richmond who also played at Miller & Rhoads during the Christmas luncheons with the Legendary Santa, another Richmond icon. It seems that I remember Bob mentored with Mr. Weaver but not sure if I'm remembering that correctly. I haven't talked with him in years but there he was today, on the page of the newspaper, playing the Mighty Wurlitzer just as Eddie Weaver had in the past. Bob continues the tradition, playing every Saturday night before the show.

The Byrd Theater Foundation continues toward its goal of $1 million to help restore portions of the theater so that, hopefully, it may continue to be a part of Richmond for generations to come.

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