On Friday November 13, 2009 I attended a screening of SANDY (1926) at the Museum of Modern Art with a stalwart crew of fellow theatre fans and colleagues working on a theatre piece on the life of Dorothy Ponedel.
After we convened at the Education and Research Building at 4 West 54th Street a few minutes before our 3pm screening appointment, we signed in and were soon permitted to ascend the open stairway up to the second floor. On the way up the stairs you could look out a glass wall into the MOMA sculpture garden. We continued to rise past a solid wall of yellow and pink Warhol wallpaper cow faces to the second floor, a lot of “staff only” signs including a staff cafeteria, to a screening room. “The Time Warner Screening Room.” Past a flat screen television mounted at right shoulder height as entering a nondescript door … we entered the beautiful and comfortable six-eight row, perhaps 50 seat screening room haven. I could live there.
We were greeted by film enthusiast and MOMA employee, our host and projectionist Charles Silver. On the way to New York from Philadelphia by train that morning I had by chance begun the splendid 2007 biography of Dot’s great friend Joan Blondell entitled Joan Blondell: A Life Between Takes (by Matthew Kennedy). Inveterate acknowledgement / introduction reader that I am, I was thrilled to see our same Charles Silver of MOMA thanked by this author. I was such a geek about this I asked Mr. Silver to sign my copy of the book by the mention of his name. I think he thought I was a little daffy, but he obliged me. And, when I asked about snapping cell phone photos during the 90 minute screening experience he said “as long as I don’t know.” I love him.
We had been prepped to catch the momentary appearances of the object of our affection, Ms. Ponedel, by her niece who provided to us some stills featuring the uncredited Dot as a dancing girl and flapper (smile) from this 80 year old, fragile, precious movie. During the screening we allowed the beauty of the celluoid, the luminiosity of the images, the simplicity of the story telling, to envelop us .. we laughed, we sighed, we smiled. We cheered this piece of our cultural history. And we embraced yet again our Ms. Ponedel. And just felt the story.
A few images:
© Martha Wade Steketee (November 16, 2009)