Gail Humphrey

on November 2, 2018 in All Roads Lead to Tucker Georgia

June 1962

“Mother, Diane and I want to see Prince and the Pauper in downtown Atlanta, not around here in Tucker! How boring. We’re goin’ to Atlana!” 

“Gail, I will not drop you off on the streets of Atlanta – especially in pouring down rain. Forget it.”

“But there’s nothing to do around here.”

And on and on it went. Most young teens would’ve given up, but not Gail.

Mary and Hubert Humphrey did all to accommodate their only child. Mary almost died giving birth and it was touch and go with Gail. Mary was my mother’s cousin. Even Helen Story,thought the sun rose and set upon Gail Humphrey. If I was with the Humphreys all was well with the world according to Helen. And it was. Long story short. Mary and a girlfriend pulled up to the curb of the Plaza Theatre on Ponce de Leon to let Gail and me out. Gail opened the car door.

“Hold on girls! I just do not feel right about this!”

“Mother, please don’t embarrass me in front of Diane!”

“Gail, you are 13 years old! What will Helen Story say when she hears about this?”

Before I could speak (though I had no intentions of telling Helen anything) Gail said, “Helen supports the buddy system! Always stay together and look out for one another.”

Mary looked at me. I was on. “Mama does support the buddy system.”

Mary thought hard, reconsidering but became irritated as the wind blew rain into the car putting a damper on her new shampoo and set. Still, she stood her ground not allowing us out of the car.

“What kind of person would allow two 13 year olds out on Ponce alone in Atlanta? Gail, Hubert will not be happy about this! What if the movie is sold out and you’re stranded on the street?”

“Oh Mother, you’re so dramatic. Why not watch us go in? We’ll wave when we have the tickets. Go to lunch and then come back and wait on us – right here in this spot. We’ll be okay.”

“Well, that makes sense. I’ll watch. Don’t forget to wave! Or I will sit here until you come out!”

That’s the roughest I ever heard Mary speak to Gail. We ran to the outside ticket booth. Just before facing a woman selling tickets Gail said, “Let me do the talking.”

(Well okay, why not?) With a straight face – serious as a heart attack – Gail looked the woman in the eyes and said, “Two for Lolita.”

“You mean – Prince and the Pauper?”

“Two for Lolita,” Gail said without blinking an eye.

Visibly disturbed, the lady said, “Absolutely not! You must be 18 to see that movie or,” she smiled knowingly, “have permission from a parent.”

“Our mothers are in that car. See? They’re waiting to make sure you give us our tickets,” Gail said as she pointed out the car with two women anxiously looking on. “I hope Mother doesn’t have to get out and get her new hairdo ruined! She’ll be so mad.”

Gail and I waved at the two women in the car. They waved back motioning for us to hurry in. The lady disapprovingly handed over the tickets. We were given an odd look by the gatekeeper who pointed to the door with Lolita in big red letters above it.

Inside the theatre, Gail insisted on sitting in the middle of the room – in the wide open for all to see. I suggested sitting on the edge near the curtains. No. We sat centerfield. There two 13 year old girls learned the ways of the (sick) world. We reacted in different ways. I felt as though the long arm of Helen Story was about to grab me, whereupon I would face the worst of judgement. Still, I looked on. Gail saw this enlightenment as a comedy where her belly laugh was heard throughout the room filled with silent-stiff-necked adults.

June of 1962 will never be forgotten, nor lessons learned: (1) Beware of very friendly old men. (2) BSP – Buddy System Power

June 2018

My dear childhood friend, Gail Humphrey, passed away in June 2018. Aggressive brain tumor. She is survived by two sons and too many friends to count. She will always be remembered for her sense of humor, gift of gab and full embracement of life. No doubt she entered the Pearly Gates at record speed, entertaining all.

Girlfriend, you are missed.

Atlanta History Note:

Plaza Theatre on 1049 Ponce de Leon Avenue is an Atlanta landmark with the longest operating history. Opened December 23, 1939, still serving the Druid Hills, Virginia Highlands and Poncey Highland neighborhood. Architect was George Harwell Bond.
































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