Shea has three comfortable rooms jammed, crammed and stuffed with ceramic collections, photographs of family members and mementos from trips across the country and to Ireland.But the most striking thing about Shea’s apartment is the movies. There are thousands of them, stacked in piles and sorted on shelves.
“I don’t even know how many I have,” Shea said. “There’s too many to count.”
Shea is well known in his home town, and not just because he’s the town’s most famous movie buff. Shea is an Iris man recognizable to almost everyone in this largely Irish town.
If you’ve lived here, you’ve probably met Tony — either at a show at the Washoe Theatre or from his days working at local markets. Or maybe you checked out one of the books he wrote from the library.
So begins the story Apostrophe published about Tony Shea in 2009.
Tony is still writing today. This is the fourth installment of Tony’s Corner, a regular Apostrophe web feature.
By Tony Shea
“Life is Worth Living”
I was born on July 1,1943. First I had my family: my big brother, Bill, and then me and my sister Frannie and the baby of the family, my sister Suzanne. When I got started growing we had many babysitters. One of them took us to the movie show, and it will stay with me for life. For a long time the movies have been “so dear to my heart.” After a bad fire, I had movies to help. And of course, I had my family. They all tried to help, but sometimes they had other things to do. Sometimes it would make me mad, but as I look back, it was my mom who got me going. Most of the time when I lost my cool — I mean temper — including fights with my brother, again mom straightened things up and the same in school with my teachers. You know, I don’t know how I got through school, but I did graduate from grade school and high school. I had many adventures, but I will tell about them in another story.
There was one thing that would follow me besides the movies and that is church at old St. Paul’s. I was a holy terror but I helped to do things later. I got into plays. I played sailor in the show. I hit the deck and I had the suit and I had to lose weight. I did get into the community choir where I saw my lifelong friends.
The time of my life I played a drunk in Guys and Dolls. I was also a Salvation Army man. Friends helped me out. There were so many.
I went to Disneyland, and I went to see my sister three times. But to get down to the nitty gritty: I had a wonderful life even with all the bumps.
With my moving, and again I had my family to help me, I moved to Mount Haggin homes and I had many adventures there. I almost burned down the place, but again my family came to help and I really met one of my biggest helps — Donna Kelly. One time on one of my moves I was coming in the door and had my ceramic Snow White. There was a man in a wheelchair, and I found out his name was Orville and I think that day we were bonding, and he would come and sit at prayer group. We went to the show and I would push his wheelchair only if the weather was good and the same way if we crossed the street to the ice ream place and he had licorice and he put it all on his face.
This was the time when I came down to do my laundry. I would bring my coloring book and would also bring down some books because he could not read. I would read to him, and he would say, “Oh boy!” We had spent a lot of time together. And then one day in October my sister Suzanne got a lawyer, and we signed papers and we adopted each other. Little did I know that on Halloween I was going to lose him, and a few other friends, but I had happy moments on trips to Butte to a place called Wally World. I would get art things and movies and we would eat at good places. I also had help from Carol, and Stacy would be there to help, but again that is another story. I had many things happen at Hearthstone where I lived, and I had some good times and some bad times. There are times that did not go right like the time I landed in the hospital for three or four days due to my eyes and health.