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September 21, 2001

Let’s chat some more about the movies, or is the subject becoming a bore? I certainly hope such is not the case.

Something related to this topic seems to pop up unexpectedly all the time. An article, “They Refused to Allow Their Town to Die,” recently appeared in the Sunday Parade magazine. As you would surmise from the title, it’s about a small town (pop. 4,400) that fought back from the familiar decay process that seems to be afflicting America’s small to medium-size communities, like Perry. The subject of the piece was Tunkhannock, Pa. A sub-head on the story states: “For many residents of rural Tunkhannock, Pa., the closing of their only movie theater in the mid-‘80s marked the decline of the town and left little to offer their kids.” Facing that challenge, a local lady named Hildy Morgan stepped forward. “I always loved the arts,” she explained, “and I could see no real program for kids. I know what the arts can do for kids.” She then spearheaded a drive to rescue and revive the town’s only movie theater.

How they went about reaching that goal is told, and the main emphasis was on reopening the theater. It was a total success, thanks to local volunteers. You may have read the article. Space does not allow me to retell the details here, but they got the job done. Residents of Tunkhannock no longer must drive to neighboring Scranton, 35 miles away, to go to the movies. Their hometown theater gives them the opportunity to see first-run films. For details, dig out the Parade magazine dated August 12. It’s an interesting piece and relates to Perry in many ways.

A little closer to home is this news article tucked away in a corner of an advertising broadsheet published in Oklahoma for “seniors” – those who have reached the age of at least 45 years. (I thought the line of demarcation was 55.) Paula Fuqua, a writer for the sheet, has glowing words to describe Chandler. Among her comments are these: “The movie theater (in Chandler) shows the latest box office hits, one at a time, for only $3 a seat.” That’s right. Chandler, like Tunkhannock, is smaller than Perry and it is located near some larger cities where multiple screen theaters lure movie fans with a litany of new films each week. The sheet also brags, with justification, about the town’s beautiful golf course, the quaint and clean shops offering everything from exclusive designer clothing and jewelry to the bargain hunters’ paradise. Any of that remind you of Perry, except for the movie theater?

Who knows? One of these days Perry might have its own movie theater again, if enough people with the right objectives can put together a plan that would work here. One more observation: The other night (it was on a Tuesday) Laura and I attended a movie at the cinemaplex in Stillwater. There were two other couples – a total of six people – in the audience, and the feature film was one of the season’s most heralded offerings. Obviously, it would take larger audiences than that to support a theater anywhere, and the buzz is that even some of the multiplexes are in trouble.