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December 17, 2012

Nothing like an old-fashioned movie theater

What is it about a movie theater? 

As a teenager in my hometown of Sidney, one of my favorite haunts was the Sidney Theater on Main Street. I have often told the story about my friend Jim Richards, the owner, and our “little agreement.” 

Every night after I would close up my Dad’s grocery store, I would head to the theater to watch the latest flick. Mr. Richards struck a deal with me. The Sidney Theater would be almost empty for the weekday showings, and the crowd was especially spare in the winter. If I happened to be the only customer for a second showing, he’d let me in for free. In exchange, he would turn the heat off inside. And this happened on several occasions.

Me, sitting all alone, watching the latest James Bond movie, munching on my popcorn, bundled in my winter coat and seeing my breath when I exhaled in the cold air. Inside.

I loved it!

Now many of our area movie palaces are in the news. The gorgeous little Colonia in Norwich faced an uncertain future recently, having to meet the requirements of “going digital.” After some scary moments, the Colonia is still there with its classic Art Deco marquee, the shimmering jewel in the crown of Norwich’s main business district.

The historic Walton Theater faced the same dreaded expensive investment required to show today’s movies. It ran an emergency cash drive to raise the money and succeeded. This landmark theater has been the heartbeat of Walton since it opened in 1914.

And now we hear the Oneonta Theatre is possibly closing its doors. To his credit, owner Tom Cormier has thrown everything he had at the 120-year-old Grand Dame on Chestnut Street. Unfortunately, time, repairs, heating bills and reality pushed back, and he just couldn’t keep the doors open any longer. There are intentions of a not-for-profit coming to the rescue, and we pray that becomes a reality.

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