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The “Eerie Dungeon of Bergenfield”

The “Eerie Dungeon of Bergenfield”

     I have many wonderful memories of growing up in Bergenfield during the 50’s and 60’s, but some memories were not so nice. As a young boy there was nothing better than going to the Palace theatre (Pop’s Flea House) on a Saturday for a full day of movies and cartoons. We would pack a lunch, be dropped off late in the morning and picked up again late in the afternoon.  It was a perfect day, right?  Wrong! There was one thing always present in the back of your mind, something you dreaded, hoping to avoid, but couldn’t.  “Going down to the Bathroom in the Palace Theatre”! Especially when the movie was a horror movie that scared the crap out of you. You waited and waited, but eventually you had to make the trip, no matter what horrors might await you. The bathroom was in the back of the main floor and you had to go down this long flight of stairs. The further down you went, the mustier the smell got, you “knew” you were “underground”, and you knew evil waited.  The room was covered in those little bathroom tiles, the urinals were on the left and the shitters were towards the back. It did not feel like a nice place. I’m sure I was not alone in these feelings and many a pee or poop record was set, and we certainly went up the stairs faster than when we went down.  My personal record was set the day I saw “Invaders from Mar’s”.  I never moved or went faster than on that day, bad enough I watched almost the entire movie thru the cracks between the seats. Was I a pussy? We’re the other kids scared? I didn’t know and I didn’t care, I only went down to the dungeon because I had to.

     Years later, I worked at the theatre, brought dates to the theatre, sat in the balcony,  made out next to the projection booth ( left side facing screen), even took my children there. Know what, even after all that time had passed, I still got an eerie feeling down in the bathroom of the Palace Theatre. I wonder, was I the Only One”?

Rich Conti, BHS'66

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