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Henry Clinkscales enjoyed
the movie theatres of Belton, SC

Belton, SC - June 26, 2003

We went to the movie theater every Saturday afternoon. There were three movie theaters in Belton and Mr. Adger Gray owned all of them. The Belton Theater was originally an old Opera House. You’ll notice it’s in the only three story building in town. The marquee used to hang out over the sidewalk. Mr. Gray bought it in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Then, during the war, there were three buildings where the bank parking lot is now. One was a restaurant, one was the Virginia Theater and the other was a Dodge dealership.

Right at the end of the square they built the Joy Theater. That was about 1947 or 1948. It was supposed to be state-of-the-art. There was a room for crying babies. It had a wonderful snack room and was famous for the hot dogs. Sometimes movie stars came to town to promote their films.

When I was twelve or thirteen, Lash LaRue came to town. He rode his horse right down the aisle of the theater. He did whip tricks. He would get someone to hold a cigarette in their mouth and he’d cut it down with his whip. Then, if you bought a picture of him for fifty cents, he would autograph it. I didn’t have fifty cents so I tore a popcorn box and he signed it. Gabby Hayes was here too. John Lund once came to promote a film.

On Monday and Tuesday was one movie. Then, on Wednesday, was a different movie, usually a “B” movie with short subjects. The movie changed again for Thursday and Friday. Then on Saturday they always showed a western with a cartoon and maybe The Three Stooges. That would show until about ten o’clock.

“This drugstore has been in my family since 1895. When I was in high school I worked here behind the soda fountain. All my friends would come by when the drugstore closed and we would go to the late show on Saturday night. It started a little after ten o’clock and was usually a scary movie and a serial. We had to be home by twelve.

My uncle owned a wholesale grocery store just down the street. He also sold Sylvania televisions. I remember after school one day in the fall about 1949, I went into the back of his store and joined a bunch of men sitting on wooden crates in front of a small television watching the World Series.

Years before that I remember my dad asking me to go to the bank up the street about three blocks to get him some change. The World Series was on the radio. This was long before people had air conditioning and as I walked up the street I could hear the series from every store. I walked the three blocks up and back and didn’t miss any of the game.

All that remains of the Belton Theatre is part of the balcony.

Belton Theatre balcony railing

John Lund came to Belton

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