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“the 1940 population of Chatham was 2,100”
I can remember nights in the 1980’s when it seemed like there were more than 2,100 people drinking in The Chatham Squire!
In May or June 1980, I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” there (with my date, the delightful Heidi Leugers).
Up Rt 28 East was The Dennisport Cinema (or the more quaintly put: “Cinema at Dennisport”).
My neighbor’s mother was the manager and he, the projectionist (he worked all over the Cape; a union thing). In 1979, she hired my friend and I as ushers (my first real job).
Ironically, on sunny days, I would get a phone call from my projectionist friend to come see a show for free; as he had to run it regardless of attendance. I lived there year ‘round, so missing a “beach day” was no big deal. I saw many a movie there for free; while mildly “chemically altered” and alone in the dark and utterly deserted theater.
someone posted earlier that “this theater would be packed with vacationers. It seemed to me that the film would change every few days.” This is quite true. There was not a lot to do in Harwichport other than go see a movie (or send the kids off to see one, while the adults guzzled their Tom Collins on the patio) once the sun went down on the beaches and everyone had finished their last dinnertime fried clam at Thompsom’s Clam Bar (pronounced: “Clam Baaaaah”)
I think the movie changed as often as weekly or bi-weekly.
The theatre was always packed and a line would form early and stretch to the front of the Pilgrim Congregational Church nextdoor. As teenagers, we would occassionally scream the ending of a film at the people waiting in line as we drove by on Rt 28, just to be jerks.
In Spring ‘77, I met up with several classmates behind the 'Port with the intention of all of us sitting together and seeing “Star Wars” for the first time. We had been partying beforehand and nature called so I excused myself and darted behind a dumpster. While indisposed, my “friends” all ran around to the front entrance; forcing me to sit alone in the sold-out theatre. It was uncomfortably warm and I was pretty wasted. Halfway through the movie, I became convinced that the lady in the seat behind me was stabbing me in the neck with a pin.
It was rumored that old Howard the Manager helped himself to any “paper money” that came back to his office via the Jimmy Fund bucket. This has been since comfirmed by two ex-Port Cinema ushers.
I remember standing in front of “Minnie’s” (or, as it was named long before: “Wattie B’s”: a taxi stand/general merchandise store/newsstand named after the owner, Watson B. Eldridge) across the street from the Modern with my pal, Jodi Irish. I was, like, four or five, so it must have been 1966 or thereabouts. We watched as they hoisted up and constructed the new, huge, dark green and corrugated “Port Cinema” facade.
My late father (who summered in Harwichport from 1921 until buying our year-round home there in 1964) was a regular patron at The Modern in the 1920’s and 1930’s. I remember him telling me that it was “quite ornate” in its heyday and had “moving clouds projected against a painted night sky” as its ceiling. Nice. Sounds like a Maxfield Parrish painting.
I believe Cinema 28 is now a t-shirt/souvenir emporium.
there was an abandoned school bus in the woods just behind the theatre. My friends and I would play in it if the show let out early and our ride(s) back to Harwich had not arrived yet. Often, that was more fun than the feature.
a slot on the Port Cinema’s candy machine was labeled “Pot Pourri!”. It was the last slot on the right and I assume it was for all of the oddball candy bars that were left over from filling the regular slots. Feeling bold one Saturday afternoon, I gambled a dime, pulled the plunger, and a Sky-Bar fell out with a piece of paper rubberbanded to it. Upon closer inspection, it was revealed to be a free movie pass that had expired three years prior.
I brought it home and my father made sure that they honored it, expiration date not-withstanding. I’m sure he pointed out that it was the least they could do after allowing children to buy (and eat) two-year-old-plus candybars!
I stand corrected. That makes it open from 1926 on.
There was no marquee; only a glassed in poster display on either side of its “porch-like” entrance. I know for a fact that some rich, summer kids (“yachties”) started stealing the more diserable posters in the mid-to-late 1970’s (“Rocky” comes to mind) to take back to their college dorm rooms at summer’s end. After replacing the poster display glass several times, the manager (old Howard Ellis) had to resort to stapling a plain placard with the movie and its MPAA rating written in magic marker in lieu of the actual poster(s).
I stand corrected. That makes it open from 1926 on.
There was no marquee; only a glassed in poster display on eaither side of its “porch-like” entrance. I know for a fact that some rich, summer kids (“yachties”) started stealing the more diserable posters in the mid-to-late 1970’s (“Rocky” comes to mind) to take back to their college dorm rooms at summer’s end. After replacing the poster display glass several times, the manager (old Howard Ellis) had to resort to stapling a plain placard with the movie and its MPAA rating written in magic marker in lieu of the actual poster(s).
I have many old postcards of The Modern as well as the “LOCKED FOR YOUR PROTECTION – ATTENDANT HAS KEY” metal sign from their mens' room. My neighbor, Kenny Myersm was the projectionist there for several years and my buddy, Bob Brown, was an usher there in the summertime throughout the 1970’s. My first real job was usher at the Dennisport Cinema six miles west of “The Port” in, of course, Dennisport, MA
Among the hundreds of movies I saw there from 1965 to 1979:
1966 Batman movie, Yellow Submarine, The Sting, Rocky,and most memorably: Star Wars (spring/summer 1977) I saw it twelve times there.
The Port Cinema was originally “The Modern” (built in 1936). It was the first movie theatre on Cape Cod.
In 1966. it became “(The) Port Cinema” (because it was in downtown Harwichport, MA on Rt 28)and showed movies year-round until the late 1970’s. It was converted into a restaurant/bakery in the early 1980’s (Bonatt’s: famous for its “melt-away” danishes) and still is to this day (2007). In the 1960’s/early 1970’s, my mother would give me a buck and send me off for the afternoon: 50 cents for the matinee, 10 cents for popcorn, 10 cents for a soft drink, and 30 cents for 3 candy bars)