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joedoc commented about Ronkonkoma Theatre on Dec 13, 2004 at 7:13 pm

Actually, the Ronkonkoma Theater was open from the early 1960s until the early-1980’s (though I’m not so sure about the closing date). I know this because I grew up in Lake Ronkonkoma and attended many matinees at that theater as a kid. This was NOT the Jerry Lewis theater RobertR mentioned (more about that in a minute).

The theater was located at the end of a shopping center on Portion Road. The center bordered on Foster Road, and the movie house was in the corner of the shopping center on the Foster Road side. The town’s bowling alley was right alongside the theater. For a number of years, the theater was managed by a women who’s family lived my neighborhood – her daughter and I were the same age.

The first movie I ever saw there was “The Music Man” in 1962 with my Mom and my late kid brother. I usually went on Saturday’s with kids from the neighborhood, and the matinee fare was Jerry Lewis and Three Stooges flicks and Commander Cody serials.

The theater changed to an adult house in the late 1960s when they began showing a Danish film called “I, A Woman”:

By today’s standards, the film was totally lame for sex, but it was a big thing in quiet little Lake Ronkonkoma in 1967-8. The film ran nightly for what seemed like months, and there was a bit to-do about it among the locals, since showing this “porn” movie kept regular fare out of the theater. The owners continued to show kids' matinees on Saturdays, but my folks wouldn’t let me go, as the didn’t want us going anyplace sullied by dirty movies.

After about a year, the owners decided to just go full adult, and spent the next years showing “Three Big Adult Hits” nightly.

In the early 1970’s (again, I may be fudgy on the dates), a Jerry Lewis theater franchise opened. This house was in a new building also on Portion Road, about a mile up the road from the old theater. The JL Theater was located between Hawkins and Ronkonkoma Avenues, right along side a bank building (it’s a Bank of new York today). After a few years, it became a second-run house that showed dollar movies. At that point, most first-run shows were available at the theater in the SmithHaven Mall a few miles away in Nesconset.

The old Ronkonkoma Theater has been closed for many years (and the old bowling alley, too). I don’t know if the location was ever used for anything else (the rest of the center is still active). The Jerry Lewis site is now a Suffolk OTB location.