PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s the final curtain call for Cornell Wood, who is wrapping up his nearly 50-year career at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music. The trailblazer had no idea the job he got as a young man would transform into a life-long career of memorable experiences.
“I didn’t know anything about ushering at the time, and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” he tells Eyewitness News.READ MORE: 'Most Egregious Story I've Ever Heard': Local Man Has Prostate Removed After Mistaken Cancer Diagnosis
Wood, who just retired, was the first Black head usher at the Academy of Music. He was born and raised in West Philadelphia, where he continues to live.
With every shift, a little bit of art and performance went back to West Philly with him.
So many milestones crossed, along with a lot of barriers broken.
“It was like a rarity to see a person of color working upstairs in here, so it was a challenge,” he says.READ MORE: One Of Last Marines To Leave Afghanistan Returns Home To Hero's Welcome In Ridley Township
Since 1973, guests and celebrities grew to know and embrace Wood, who has made this a family business. Some relatives aren’t happy he’s retiring before it’s their turn.
“Now my grandchildren is kinda mad that I’m retiring because they was planning on coming here too,” Wood says.
There will be a lot of things Wood say he’ll miss about his time in the business, especially the guests and treasured connections. He will trade in seating assignments for a leisurely seat while fishing.
Wood says the beauty of the arts is that sometimes, the most important parts aren’t centerstage.MORE NEWS: WATCH: Surveillance Video Catches Olney Drive-By Shooting That Killed 1, Injured 5
“I think it’s a lot to be learned here in the arts that’s hidden behind the scenes, not just in the scenes.”