Reel Pizza lost a true hero and Downeast Maine an icon this winter with the passing of Dave Parsons, owner and operator of the Milbridge Theatre. Dave was instrumental in the formation of our business from the very beginning, setting us up with projection equipment, theater supplies and teaching us the secret ins and outs of the movie business that you might not have believed until this week with the revelations from the Sony Pictures hacking scandal. In our early years, he would drive to Bar Harbor after his show let out, and work with Chris all night to fix a problem with the sound or projection, or to install a new piece of equipment, ferrying with him a truckload of spare parts, just in case. He got deals for us and a group of other small independent cinemas in Hancock, Washington and Piscataquis counties, on popcorn bags, theater pack candy, spare lamp bulbs, or splicing tape, among other things. He was always thinking, about how to solve this or fix that or get a deal to save even just a little money, so that we'd all stay afloat to show movies for another season.
At his own theatre, that he bought in 1978, he was a true showman, playing before shows the player piano that lived at the front of his auditorium and making sno-cones. He was meticulous, as we are too, about the sound and the image quality that he provided to his customers. He was also a veritable fount of information on film history, able to recall with perfect clarity who played in some old studio picture that he thought we should know about, and back in the day even taught classes. He had the same memory for obscure candy companies about which we would talk after we found some weird confection in our travels; he always knew the entire history of the company. We will miss those fascinating conversations. He even got a big-screen debut in the first full-length feature from Mark and Jay Duplass, THE PUFFY CHAIR, when they filmed in the Milbridge Theatre, among other locales in his town.
Dave was one of the most kind, and most giving persons we have ever known, a dear friend who we will miss greatly, and a saint without whom Reel Pizza would never have survived its first year. If you are grateful for Reel Pizza, join us in raising a toast, be it with apple juice or champagne, beer or bourbon (Dave would've had ginger ale) to a great man who left us too soon.