Friday, July 18, 2008


With the heat becoming unbearable here in NEO, I thought it would be a good time to post something I'd been holding onto a while.

In Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, there once was a place called the Lumina (or Luminia). It's heydey was during the 1920s and '30s, with the dance hall featuring some of the biggest bandleaders of the day: Paul Whiteman, Guy Lombardo, etc.

What really set the Lumina apart, however, was the giant screen located in the ocean, where they would show silent movies. The imagery is staggering: A dark, moonlit evening, with Valentino, or Pickford emoting under the stars, the waves crashing beneath them, the orchestra in residence accompanying the action...

There's a 1995 interview with Wallace West, a gentleman who spent his youth at Lumina and has some wonderful reminiscences (he talks about watching movies there on page 5).

Also, Sage has written a wonderful, lyrical poem about Lumina on his blog; he goes on to give a little background on the place to people who are unfamiliar. I'm reprinting the paragraph about Lumina here, I hope he doesn't mind! It's really lovely, and captures what I was trying to describe earlier:

And I never laid in the sand on the beach
watching silent movies projected on a screen
beyond the breakers, a constant rhythm,
for the antics of Mr. Fields and company
until a nor’easter flatted the screen,
by then obsolete with the new talking shows.

I had first run across a reference to Lumina about 10 years ago; there was even a photo of the screen. The site it was on is long gone, but I never stop hoping I'll run across another photo.

I guess the secret is out: I'm a romantic at heart!


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