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The Abrams Brothers of Georgetown

From an interview with Mrs. Helmer Abrams whose husband's family
owned and operated movie theatres in Georgetown.

The Abrams brothers were reared in these theatres in Georgetown as well as in Lake City. Morris, the oldest brother, worked for a man, I believe his name was Mr. Cook, who had a theatre. All the boys were very bright, particularly the oldest one. He was working in the theatre and going to school. His father told him, either go to school or work in the theatre, you can’t do both. He began working in the theatre in Lake City full time.

I’ve heard my husband tell this story many times. When the boxing matches came on over the radio, he would listen to the match to find out how it was going and then he would run down and tell his brother Morris. Morris would project on the screen how the boxing match was going.

During the depths of the depression, Morris somehow obtained the theatre. The next older brother was Carroll. He finished the University of South Carolina and then he and Engle Hazzard came to Georgetown and started a bank called the Georgetown Cash Depository. At that time, Morris sold the theatre in Lake City.

About twenty years ago, my husband and I went to an affair in Lake City. The place had changed so much we couldn’t tell where we were. My husband stopped the car and asked a black man if he knew where the Haskels lived. The fellow said, “Ain’t you one of the Abrams brothers?” It was a man named Princey who had worked for Morris at the theatre in Lake City. Whether Princey is still living or not, God only knows.

After Carroll opened up the bank, Morris, Helmer, and their mother came to Georgetown. The other brother, Sidney, was entering the University of South Carolina. Helmer entered high school in Georgetown. I don’t know if their father came with them or not. That was before I married Helmer. I believe Morris opened the Palace Theatre first. Then they opened the Strand.

Morris ran both theatres in Georgetown and one in Andrews. Then they opened two drive-ins, one in Andrews and one here. Then, about 1950, Morris’ mother became a semi-invalid. He bought a television for her. It was very early-on and television had just come in. Morris became ill and had to have a very serious operation in Charleston. Carroll closed the theatres while Morris was down in Charleston.

Morris retired after that. At that time, Carroll still owned the Georgetown Cash Depository. Engle Hazzard, his partner, had died. Carroll sold the Palace Theatre to the First Citizens Bank.

Morris’ widow, Lillian Abrams, sold the Strand Theatre to community theatre group.

Every child went to the movie theatre on a Saturday. It was a wonderful place to leave your children at that time. You could leave your child there and nobody would touch them.

One time, my son was going to the movies on a Saturday and, naturally, they were all throwing popcorn boxes and God knows what else. Morris and Lillian had no children. Morris was standing in the back of the theatre and he saw the popcorn boxes flying and he cut the movie off. He went down front and said, “The next one that throws a popcorn box will never be allowed to come in this theatre again!”

He stood in the back for awhile and of course, the popcorn boxes started flying again. Well, Morris saw the kid who threw the first one in the air and he went down the aisle and yanked this boy up by the scruff of his neck and it was his nephew!

Interview May 10, 2005, by John Coles and Mark Tiedje.

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