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Dear Ace: I was walking from the Inn at Court Square the other day and noticed on the back of The Paramount Theater a phrase was painted: “The Friendly Paramount.” Where did it come from? And what does it mean?—Bree K. Wall
Bree: Ace suspects you’re unaware of the many levels to your question. In its basic state, it is simply another investigative task for Ace. But, under its surface, it begs another question: Really, when you think about it, where did any of us come from? What does anything really mean?

It’d be difficult to get to the bottom of the latter quandry (at least philosophically), but Ace can tell you this: He comes from a fairly long lineage of gin-swilling theater buffs (those two interests never mingling, natch, until Ace came along), which should be sufficient proof of his interest in your question.

Sandy DeKay, the Paramount’s office manager, says that the sign that’s there now is really just a redo of the one that used to be there. “Ten to 20 years ago, it would have been very visible,” she says, but it has since worn away. But here’s the kicker: Sandy told Ace that when the graphic designer got up close to look at the wall, he could see what looked like an earlier sign—earlier than the one they replaced!

“From what we could tell,” Sandy says, “it looked like a mountain with a circle of stars—the Paramount Pictures logo—which would have been really cool.” Of course, they couldn’t say for sure, and in 2005 covered up both of the old signs with the one you spotted on your walk, Bree, but in a slightly different graphic form.

As for why the sign says “The Friendly Paramount,” Sandy told Ace they were just replacing the old one, from the 1950s, which said the same thing. “It’s a marketing device, essentially,” Sandy says. “I think they just wanted to tell the community that the Paramount was a friendly and fun place to come. …That’s the message we wanted to give to the community still.”

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 19 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to ace@c-ville.com.

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