Movie theaters are the places where imagination and fantasies come alive. It’s where we suspend our disbelief to watch dinosaurs roam the earth, gangsters rob a bank and aliens invade spaceships.
In the darkness, we laugh, cry and scream at the images that flash across the silver screen – a long tradition since the first public movie theater opened in June 1905 in Pittsburgh, Pa.
And although the medium has evolved immensely through the decades, the idea of flocking to a movie theater for entertainment remains constant.
But time has taken its toll.
Small, privately-owned movie theaters remain in business in only four Crossroads communities, so now the ticket-buying public should strive to keep their screens illuminated.
Port Lavaca officials are doing just that for the Twin Dolphins Theater, 152 SH 35 North, wisely awarding it $10,000 through its Port Lavaca Pride Incentive Grant.
Established three years ago and with a budget of $25,000, the grant encourages businesses that face SH 35, Main Street or SH 238 to make visually appealing improvements by giving them between $5,000 and $10,000, said City Engineer Jody Weaver.
Twin Dolphins received the grant to repair its marquee that was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. That money will help owners Nancy and Harold Walraven improve their theater’s appearance and provide a little polish to the SH 35 corridor in the city.
The new sign will be like the old, with black letters illuminated from behind that spell out the movies currently showing.
“It’s kind of an icon thing out here in Port Lavaca,” said Nancy Walraven, who bought the theater in 1995. She and her husband have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain and modernize the structure.
Through their efforts, the Twin Dolphins Theater, which was built in 1972, helps us hold onto a piece of nostalgia before it disappears forever.
At one time, indoor movie theaters and outdoor drive-ins thrived throughout the Crossroads.
During the 1940s through the 1960s, Victorians would attend the El Rancho or Uptown theaters, both near DeLeon Plaza. One building was demolished to make room for a new bank; the other was destroyed by fire.
What remains today is just a small representation of the privately-owned theaters of long past, when the price of a ticket was 40 cents for an adult and nine cents for a child. Popcorn was a nickel.
In addition to the Twin Dolphins Theater in Port Lavaca, there is the Ganado Cinema, which opened in June 1941, and the Cole Theatre in Hallettsville, which opened in 1926, showing silent movies with a piano player providing a soundtrack. There is also the Grand Theatre in Yoakum, which opened in 1922, also showing silent films.
These shining entertainment gems must be preserved, and we can help achieve that if we all go to the movies playing at these historic structures. They have endured the test of time, and they deserve our patronage.