Over the coming week of Christmas vacation, thousands of people will make a trip to The Movies at Midway near Rehoboth.
Many of them will be happily met by longtime theater employees Elsie McGurgan and Joyce Blizzard. With a combined 37 years of experience between them, McGurgan, 14 years, and Blizzard, 23 years, know the ins and outs and ups and downs of working at the movie theater.
“We love our job,” said a chipper McGurgan, 78, who moved to the area in 1998 after spending much of her life in New Jersey. “It’s an easy place to work.”
This time of year, said Blizzard, the movie theater is busy all day because the kids are out on break.
McGurgan said it’s just as busy during the summer months – especially if it’s raining.
“Most of the movies will sell out if it’s a rainy summer day,” she said. “But if it’s a hot summer day, this place is busy too because people will go to the beach in the morning and then come here to cool off in the afternoon.”
Blizzard, 79, was born, raised and still lives in Rehoboth. She said she’s been working in the ticket booth so long she can remember a time before there were cash boxes.
“We’d just use a cardboard box,” said Blizzard, the more reserved of the pair.
There have been other changes at the movie theater too.
McGurgan said the concession stand was remodeled a few years ago and now allows customers to pour their own drinks.
Both women say they’re excited about the theater’s newest addition – The Cube, a 199-seat theater, with top-of-the-line video and audio capabilities that opened in November.
McGurgan said she saw the new Thor movie in the new theater.
“Any action movie is going to be wonderful in there,” she said.
McGurgan said when she first started working at the theater, she’d come in and help out the cleaning lady, go home and shower, and then come back in time for her shift.
“I’ll do anything they ask me to do,” she said, listing off ushering, working the concession stand and theater cleaning as tasks she’s done over the years. “I enjoy doing it.”
Both McGurgan and Blizzard keep themselves busy with lots of community service outside of the movie theater too.
McGurgan volunteers for the local Elks Lodge, is a life member of the VFW, a member of the American Legion and a member of the Columbiettes.
Blizzard is a charter member of the Rehoboth VFC Auxiliary who also helps with Greyhounds Reach the Beach and Sea Witch.
“We just like to help people out,” said McGurgan, laughing, while Blizzard shook her head in agreement.
Both women said getting to know the regular customers is the thing they enjoy most about working at the theater.
Most of the customers are very nice, said Blizzard, adding that some of their most loyal customers drive from Dover because of how clean and well-maintained Midway Movies is.
McGurgan said many of the customers come so often, the two women know them by name.
That said, both women also said not every customer is a peach to work with.
“Sometimes you just have to hold your tongue,” said Blizzard. “Sometimes you want to remind them that we don’t have to sell you a ticket. But, when you’ve been at the job as long as I have, you come to expect certain things.”
Neither Blizzard nor McGurgan has any intention of stopping their work at the theater.
“As long as they let us,” said Blizzard, laughing. “They haven’t fired me, yet.”
A movie theater is the type of place where employees often come and go, but McGurgan said a strong bond, almost family-like, is formed with the ones who stick around the longest.
“We’ve been friends for a long time,” said McGurgan of Blizzard, who confirmed her feelings for McGurgan with a quick, but emphatic smile. “I can’t even tell you. There’s not a better place to work. I’ve definitely found a home, honest.”