Mrs. Mitchell, Get that light out of my eyes!

Mitchells’ Theatre, Pasadena, NL: Credit to Annie Dawe-Kendall  for the photo

You wouldn’t dare say that to Mrs. Mitchell when she ran the only movie theatre in Pasadena many years ago.  That really ages me when I say it like that! She would have a flashlight with her all the time,which some people called the weapon. A few unlucky teenagers got clobbered if she thought they deserved it.  She was always coming in during the movie to check on things and to make sure there was no hanky panky going on. Especially in the back row!

We spent many hours watching matinees at Mitchells’ theatre, on Church Street, close to Mr. Ben Evans’ house and the old Holy Rosary School.  Who can remember lining up to go in and all the giggling we did outside the door prior to paying our fee?  For 10 cents you got into a matinee and evening movies were a quarter.  For fifteen cents you could buy a Coke and a bag of chips.  There was a certain feel to it all, and we just had to go to the matinees. What else was there to do that was more exciting?

It’s one of those things you remember, but you don’t recall all the details.  Who did I attend these movies with?  I can’t remember, to tell the truth.  I can remember seeing some of the regulars there, like Holly and Linda. People would be coupled up, of course, and when you were 12 or 13, you had to take a sneak at the back row to see what was going on there, especially if you had to go outside to get a snack. Perhaps we thought we’d learn something from the lovers who frequented the same seats all the time!  We didn’t get many treats back then so having an extra quarter to buy a pop and bar or chips was special.

I’m sure most folk around went to the movies at one time or another. But I was so interested in seeing the show, it’s like I blocked it out of my mind. I can remember getting annoyed if anyone was making a lot of noise, and if Mrs. Mitchell caught that person, out he or she would go.  If someone moved ahead in one seat, all the seats in that row went ahead too. Some naughty people would roll their bottle down the floor and it would make a noise every time it hit the legs of our seats. That would bring Mrs. Mitchell in to find out who the culprit was.  But usually it was quiet and we watched the screen in awe. Remember we didn’t have 40, 50 or 60 inch flat screen surround sound 3-D  televisions like some folks enjoy today!

I can remember thinking This building needs a lot of work.  It needs new chairs and new floors. When it was first opened there was no bathroom, but eventually two bathrooms were added.  No more going outside to do the obvious!  We thought we had it made, that’s for sure.  For years we couldn’t imagine not having a theatre.  We were lucky indeed for how many Newfoundland communities had their very own theatre?  Now years later I think that Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell were very forward thinking people.  They helped us through our teenage years with plenty of entertainment so that we didn’t feel like we were an isolated community or that we were lacking for anything.

There would be cartoons at the beginning of the show and then we’d all settle in to see the main production.  Remember that big lion roaring? I can see it as plain as  the nose on my face. I often wondered how they got that close to the lion for him to do that without eating whoever was doing the filming.  There were a lot of westerns shown over the years, but later I remember seeing Elvis in his movies. I thought even back then that he was a much better singer than actor and I still feel that way.  I can also recall saying that I didn’t like him.  I like him better now that I’m all grown up!  He was very handsome and he could move those hips!  The guys loved to see all the pretty girls that were always around him, and the ones he kissed in the shows.

Most of us will never forget those days with Mrs. Mitchell carrying that old knitted purse, marching up and down the aisle with  her flashlight, with an army like veneer.  Her husband standing there with a calm sweet smile, saying very little, supporting her in whatever she said. Those short cartoons or the whole afternoon westerns and cool movies like the Blob(thanks, Pat for that one!).  The whole experience of being present at Mitchells’ Theatre helped build our fabric, and engaged us in what was going on in other parts of the world.  We were watching the same movies as everyone else! Most of all it nurtured our imaginations and love for stories and provided a place for our friends to meet and have fun.

It seems my fingers got a mind of their own today.  I thought I couldn’t remember much about those days at the matinees and evening shows, but I guess I remember more than I really need to! Thanks to those who made comments and reminded us of what they remember about Mitchells’ Theatre.

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About Newfoundland Traveller

I'm a Newfoundlander with a love of reading, writing and travelling. I've travelled around our province and lived in four provinces of Canada. I love a good book and a good blog. My family means the world to me, and some day I hope to travel to many countries of the world with my husband and sons' families.
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10 Responses to Mrs. Mitchell, Get that light out of my eyes!

  1. Helen says:

    I remember how if one person in the row of seats bent forward, the whole row would go forward. And I remember the old knitted pouch in which Mrs. Mitchell kept her money. She could be a cantankerous lady at times!!!

  2. We had some really interesting characters in our small community! I thought Mr. Mitchell was always smiling and kind to us. Mrs. Mitchell seemed to be in charge. I read some of the stories on the Pasadena Come Home Year Facebook Page and there were lots of stories about life inside the theatre.

  3. Pauline , I could actually see the place from your description which was excellent!
    I feel like I have been there. This is my favourite post so far out of what I have read.

  4. Oh ! And catchy title too!

  5. I guess we loved going there so we really didn’t mind if Mrs. Mitchell got upset. We had colorful members of our community who had big influences on us. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. Anyone have the dates that the theatre was open? I keep adding new details, so thanks for readers who contact me and give me extra details. If you want credit for the details, please comment and I will leave the material here for all to read.

  7. Keith Parsons says:

    Wow! Thanks Annie for the memories. I don’t remember you but then again Mitchell’s Theater had been there for generations. My time there was in the early to mid 80’s, pretty much up to the time it closed down. Your right. They where a loving couple and they did it for the kids. It was all about us.
    I also remember Mr’s Mitchell’s wrath and had to endure a couple beatings with that flash light. She never missed. She was pretty sneaky too! My friends and I would start carrying on and all of a sudden wack! She never beat our brain out or anything but it smartened you up real fast.
    I have thought about it over the years and it always brings a sme to my face and I know all about the back row. 🙂
    I can still see the screen with the gum stuck to it and the tape repairs here and there. Albert didn’t say to much but if he did, look out!!
    Great people! Just fabulous!
    I recently hooked up with a friend after 15 years, he’s the one that directed me to this link. We talk about this all the time. What fun we use to have!

    Now many years later we are guitarist, we write and we sing. Since meeting up we have completed over a dozen song written during our youth. Well to his credit we decided our stage name would be Mitchell’s Theater because it was a time in our life that we both loved and could reflect on with a smile and laughter.

    Great post! Really love it!
    P.S. Sorry about the bottles!! 😉
    Keith Parson’s
    Calgary Alberta

    • Hi there Keith, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Im putting together a book of stories about growing up in Pasadena. If you or your friends would like to contribute stories and/or poems, let me know. Love the name of your band!

  8. Don Dobbin says:

    I’m sitting here reading this at 45 years of age because my son pulled out an old VHS of Star Wars: A New Hope.

    He was amazed when I told him I saw this when it first came out in the summer of 1977, of course it was at Mitchells’ Theatre and I will never forget it. People walked out of the theatre that night and their lives were changed. The best movie experience I ever had and ever will in all my life. It was one of the many movies I watched there and good times were had. I grew up on Berkshire Avenue which was only a short walk.

    Thank you for this article and thank you Mr. & Mrs. Mitchel for the great memories. I guessing they are long gone now and I only hope they knew how their little theatre positively influenced and changed the lives of the children they entertained.

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