Thursday, December 30, 2010

“You say ‘to-may-to’ and I say ‘to-mah-to’”

The palatial Loew’s Kings theater on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn was where I spent many Saturday afternoons as a child. With its majestic wide central staircase covered in red carpet it was simple to imagine being a princess descending to enter the ball.


In later years, the theater suffered hard times. It’s now been closed for thirty years. But many are full of hope that the opulent movie palace will be restored. There is a wonderful video on YouTube which gives you the story of this large wonderful theater. Whether you’re from Brooklyn (or wish you were!) or if you are a history or theater buff, you’ll understand why the Loew’s Kings holds such a special place in many hearts.


Whenever I happened to mention my childhood days - probably too frequently for my three children - I pronounced the name of the theater as I always had: “Lo-eez” Kings. My daughter Trish would correct me and say it was pronounced “Lows.” The discussion continues to this day, despite my having pointed out that during interviews with both Larry King and Barbra Streisand (both true Brooklynites) they pronounced it my way. Then, two years ago, my son John gave me a cookbook called Junior’s, Remembering Brooklyn with Recipes and Memories from Its Favorite Restaurant.


I love the cookbook more for the vivid memories and photographs of Brooklyn through the years than for its famous cheesecake recipe, and that’s saying something. But the authors also point out that the Loews theaters in Brooklyn were pronounced “Lo-eez.”

In the YouTube video, you’ll notice that the commentators pronounce Loew’s in one syllable. Except for Brooklyn’s Borough President. It’s got to be a generation thing.