Saturday, December 5, 2009

They're Talking About Lynn - More 50s - Olympia, Warner, Central Square, Paramount

 In the last "They're Talking About Lynn", we heard from Charlotte (Hersey) Jackson and her memories of walking down from the highlands with her girlfriend, Cathy.  I was very happy to receive this post from Cathy just days after that last post hit.

More from the 50s from lifelong Lynn resident until 2009, Cathy  (Brooks) Kibbey

As I was mentioned in the last blog I think it is only fair to put my 2 cents in.  I am Charlotte's friend Cathy.  Lynn was no small potatoes.  Besides having Union Street as a main thorough fare, there was also Market Street and all the connecting streets in between.   We'll talk about some of the other streets on another blog.  Let's talk about the theaters.  Today with computers, DVDs, and other forms of entertainment available to  the youth, young people may find a game of dodge ball, hope scotch and hide and seek boring.  However, when all those little games we played became boring to us, going to the movies was one of our biggest treats.

  Lynn had 3 popular movie theaters during my childhood in the 50's.  However, before that there were more than just those 3.  At the turn of the twentieth century (between 1897 and 1915) there were 5 new theaters opened in Lynn including the Olympia.  That was before my time.  My mother talked often of the other theaters and the impact they had on her life. The 3 largest and most popular theaters that I remember were The Capital, The Warner and the grandest of all, The Paramount.  If you got to go to the show  on a Saturday by 12:00 noon, children ages 12 and under paid 25 cents for admission which included a double feature, cartoons and a news reel. They were always packed.  Back in those days there were ushers with flash lights to show you to your seat or make sure you weren't making out in the dark.

  The Warner usually had lines around the corner.   On the opposite corner  to the Warner was McClellan's dime store.  They sold a big sleeve of Popcorn for only 10 cents which was a definite "must"  if you were interested in munching during the show.  Under Mc Clellan's was Sassone's Italian restaurant with its red and white checkered table clothes and Chianti bottles with candles in them.  I can still remember the aroma of their  sauce as it  traveled through the side walk grates while waiting to go to the show.  Maybe we can talk about the restaurants at another time.  This is just about the theaters.

  I think the Paramount was the largest.  Definitely, it was the grandest.  The very best movies came there.   Next to the Paramount was the New York Bakery which sold doughnut holes in a large bag for 10 cents.  If they only knew what Dunkin' Donuts knows today. Sometimes I would go down Union Street a bit and get a bag of freshly roasted peanuts from the "Mr. Peanut " store.   The glass window had a mechanical Mr. Peanut who tapped the window all day long.  There was a permanent scratch on the window where his cane hit.  Inside was an assortment of nuts, all freshly roasted or being roasted.  My personal favorite were the red skinned Spanish nuts.  They were also the cheapest.  Nothing matches the feel of holding a warm bag of peanuts followed by the aroma and eventual eating.  At 10 cents a quarter pound it was another must for the show.   The inside of the Paramount was very plush and had gold leaf everywhere and ornate chandeliers and mirrors.  There was a huge balcony.  Downstairs was a smoking lounge as well as the men's and ladies rest rooms.  Did I say rest rooms?  The ladies room was elegant.  It was actually a suite of rooms.  First,  a lounge section, separate from the main lounge,  with sofas and chairs.  Connecting to the ladies lounges was a room filled with individual vanities, mirrors and velvet vanity stools, and connecting that room was, of course the actual restroom.  Many a little girl went to those vanities and pretended to be the movie stars on the screen upstairs.  Of course they also has a ladies room attendant.  I don't know what she was suppose to do, but she never looked happy about the little girls loitering around and giggling.  The decor throughout the Paramount was Art Deco and the colors were creams, black and china red.  The only drawback to the Paramount children's matinee was if you were not accompanied by an adult you were delegated to sitting in Aisle 1.  Drats!!  Of course they could never pull that off today.  Even as a child I thought it was unconstitutional, but that was the kind of weird kid I was.

Finally, The Capital.  Just a little history.  It was opened in 1910 and was originally called The Central Square.  It offered high class vaudeville and live entertainment.  But I only remember the 50's.  Although the Capital showed such great films as West Side Story, during my youth it had the reputation of showing horror films and movies which had already  made the circuit.  It was an elegant theater in it's own right, but the least popular.  It was flanked by a shoe store, now the Visitors Center and on the other side Stiliano's restaurant..  Ah, there it is again...... food.  So many memories tied up in food.  No wonder many of us looked like the Campbell Soup Kids.

These memories, although below the surface of consciousness, came back to me so vividly when I read the last blog.  I don't live in Lynn anymore, but did my whole life until recently.  I was always proud to be a "Lynner". 


Thank you Cathy for sharing your fond memories of entertainment in the Downtown area. If you want to contribute to this series, please contact me at

1 comment:

  1. Reading the history of Lynn is almost like reading the history of Lawrence with its theaters, lunch counters, diners, and 5 & dime stores..What nostalgia!


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