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Edward from Summerton
Yes, John, I remember back in the late 50's and 60’s when I would visit my grandmother in Summerton and my favorite thing to do on Friday or Saturday night was go to the movies. And then it was only a quarter.
The only thing that I didn’t care for was having to sit in the balcony. Yes sir, I’m African-American and one of the persons that wanted to sit on the main floor and wondered why we couldn't at 12, 13 and 14 years old. Well, we sat on the main floor one night and we got food, drinks and God knows what thrown on us. I think it was 1966 or 67, can’t really remember now.
Once my family started this action, all the others in the area started sitting on the main floor and I understand that the owner said if it didn’t stop he would close the movie up, and that he did, and the building was torn down.
By the way I’m also the young man that tried to go into the Summerton diner at that same time period and the owner beat our windshield out. The only reason I’m still alive today is that woman who was the owner asked for a gun from her daughter, but the daughter said, "no mom." And the gun never came out. Don’t know her name but I understand that she runs the diner now. If you ever go to Summerton tell her that I hope she is well and Thank her for me.
Would really like to thank her for that one day.
I grew up in Charleston, and my father, Traynor Ferillo, was for a good while in the 1960's an executive with Pastime Amusement Company which ran the city's downtown theaters on or near King Street: The Riviera, The Arcade (on Liberty Street,) The Gloria, The Garden and The American. The company was owned and operated by Albert Sottile until his death and then ownership passed to his family.
Mr. Sottile brought numerous Italian craftsmen to Charleston to design and build these theaters, many with ornate architectural features. The extraordinary circular night sky remains in the ceiling of The Gloria, now a performing arts house on King at George Street.
My father often spoke wistfully about two others that had burned to the ground that were part of this group: The Majestic and ... another. I think its name started with an "I". One was on King and the other on Society Street, I believe.
I have many wonderful memories of these classic structures, crawling about their projection rooms and watching movies from the projection box. I knew all the staff and had passes from my father to see the movies free. The theaters in those days were always full at most performances, then began to wane as people discovered the wonders of television in their homes.
Before 1964, these grand theaters were segregated by law and were the sites of many sit-in demonstrations during the volatile civil rights movement. I found myself attending rallies at Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street and making signs for the demonstrators to carry. I had promised my mother that I would not march in the picket lines in front of my father's theaters and I never did. I just found ways to support the movement out of his sight.
I look forward to your book.
As a teenager living just across the SC/NC state line, Fort Mill was actually closer to our home than the larger Charlotte NC area; therefore, we took advantage of all the amenities offered by the little town of Fort Mill. The Fort Mill pool, the skating rink at the old high school, and The Center Theatre. It was the best of the best. On Saturdays we would get up, do our chores, tease our hair up, "get fixed up", if you will, and look forward to going to the movies. We had boyfriends we met there, sat with and smooched in the back row, in the dark when we could sneak a kiss before the guy with the flashlight would see us and make us stop. A lot of memories were made there, some that I won't soon forget.
The theatre closed and the ticket window and glass doors were boarded up. The property was run down and stood vacant for a number of years before it was renovated. I'm not sure, but I think there are offices now in the space where the theatre was, and the outside looks really nice with modern, upscale landscaping.
Thanks for helping
me recall some really fond memories of the The Center Theatre in Fort
My fond childhood memory of a single screen theater is of the Dane Theater in Denmark, SC. I have so very many memories of going to movies as a child at this Theater. It was always so cool and dark and it had red velvet seats which I thought were beautiful. The ladies restroom had a vanity that I thought was so glamorous. "My seat" was always on the left side of the theater about half way down the aisle in the middle section.
Although The Dane Theater was 10 miles away from where my family lived we attended very often. My Dad would never miss a John Wayne movie - we saw each and every one of them in The Dane Theater.
I can also vividly recall going to see movies such as The Ten Commandments, Gone With the Wind, A Summer Place, The Graduate and every Disney movie that was ever made when I was a child. I had a friend who loved scary movies like I did. When we went to see movies like The Mummy and Dracula in The Dane I would hide my eyes at the really scary parts and she would tell me when it was safe to open my eyes - sometimes she would fool me and tell me to open them when something scary was still going on.
One special memory is when I was eight years old and a group of my friends and I boarded the train one Saturday afternoon in Olar, SC and rode the ten miles to Denmark to see the matinee which was Old Yeller. I will never forget that thrill or the feeling because it was the first time I had ever ridden a train!
Over my childhood and adolescent years The Dane Theater was a popular birthday party destination and I recall going to The Dane on many Saturday afternoons for various friends' birthdays and some of those 'birthday' movies we saw - Snow White, Summer Magic as a youngster and Goldfinger for one middle school birthday party! I think Goldfinger was the first 'adult' movie we middle schoolers ever saw and we felt so grown-up going to see it.
Mr. Lundee operated The Dane and he always sat in the tiny little window to take our money. I just can't ever remember seeing anyone else in that window but Mr. Lundee. I can remember paying a quarter to see many movies but I can't recall paying other amounts as the price changed as time went on.
On another note,
I remember that the balcony was where the black folks sat to watch movies.
I did not understand why they sat there and I used to think they were
so lucky to be able to sit up so high in the theater. I wanted more
than anything to be able to sit in the balcony to watch movies. I was
too little to understand the real reason why this was the way it was.
The Marh Theatre was built in the 50's in downtown North Augusta, SC. This theatre probably sat around 500 and had a balcony and a small stage. It closed after a few years of operation and later was re-opened as the Carolina with "Run of the Arrow." The building stands today but has been converted into office space.
The Hilltop Drive-In Theater also was built in the 50's and has been torn down.
It would be good if you could find pictures of both theaters; I'm sure that they exist. Let me know if you do.
By the way, when is your book going to be published? I think this was a great idea.
Great site! You brought back a lot of memories. My grandparents and lot of aunts and uncles lived in Newberry and I remember going to the Ritz on many occasions in the 50s and early 60s. I also had relatives in Gaffney and went to their "show" several times. I remember being upset because I missed seeing the Lone Ranger in person when he took a trip through South Carolina.
My dad was a Methodist minister and had a church in Honea Path for four years. I went to the Lyric each Saturday after either raking leaves or mowing grass. By the way, Mr. Bratcher was in error when he remembered the car that John Dillinger was in when he was shot. Dillinger was walking out of the Biograph Theatre with the famed "Lady in Red" in Chicago when a team of FBI agents shot him. The team was led by Melvin Purvis, a native of Timmonsville.
You didn't have a picture of any of the Florence "picture shows". There's one left that is being used by a church for Sunday services. It is on Dargan Street.
Thanks for the memories!!!!
The first movie theater that I remember in Laurens, SC is the Capital Theater. I believe it was in place long before the Echo. The current owners of the Capital have renovated the theater and us it for plays, parties, & other entertainment. They also have a small sandwich shop with a '50's feel.
The Palmetto Theatre in historic downtown Hampton, SC has been a landmark for the folks in our area for years. As a child, the highlight of the week was to go to the Saturday matinee and as a teenager was the best place for a date. Like most single screen theaters, Palmetto was closed for many years, but we are very proud that the local arts council has renovated the theatre. The arts council has given life back to the building and the retro 50's neon lights are glowing again. No movies are shown, but Grease is being performed during March and April by our local "stars". We are still entertained often by musical groups and other performances. Come visit us for a nostalgic step back to the 50's.
As you stated there has to be a lot of fond memories from those days.
Anderson County Library has a video of Anderson Theaters that you might be interested in. It was produced by Harry Osteen, long-time owner of the old Osteen theater in downtown Anderson.
I found your site when the SCIWAY newsletter came through today. I want to make you aware of a book about old movie houses in Spartanburg we published recently. "Magical Places - The Story of Spartanburg's Theaters & Their Entertainments: 1900-1950" by Marion Peter Holt.
There was also a drive-in theatre here. The marquee is still in existence. I was assistant manager at the Greer Theatre in Greer and the King Cotton Drive in in Greer. The Greer Theatre building is still there. Not sure how it looks inside. These were operated by Stewart-Everett Theatres out of Charlotte.
I understand you're
looking for photos and histories of single screen movie theaters of
the 1920's - 30's, 40's and 50's. You have a nice web page.
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