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.