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The Capitol Threater

The history of the Capitol Cinema reveals Willimantic's interesting relationship with the "movies" since the late 19th century. The $500,000 theater, a "Vaudeville and Movie Palace," opened to the public on Jan. 21, 1926, at 6:30p.m.


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A Letter From Hollywood
Capitol Days - by Charlie Barrett


Russell Barrett Russell W. Barrett,
operator of The Capitol Theater,
1940s-1960s.

 

Early Memories: Staff, WWII Parade And Ten Cent Coca Colas:

As a kid in 1945 I can recall the joyous World War II Main Street victory parade that I watched while sitting atop my mother Marjorie's shoulders as the Capitol staff all assembled in front of the theater. Mom wrapped my new brother Jim in her arms...there were cashiers Helen Hallahan and Milly Potter, and stage manager Henry Morrisette, who cheered as the procession of Willimantic's Home Guard, Air Raid Wardens (including my dad), police and fire vehicles as well as WWI vets moved down Main Street as a local marching band beat out "The Washington Post March."

The Capitol had two candy machines in the lobby with boxes of Old Crows, Milk Duds and Oh Henry's for 5 cents....there was also a 10 cents-a-cup automatic soda machine that sometimes didn't work and people would kick it hard. I liked the Coke. In the 1940s, men like Otis Fairbanks and Jerry Lussier served as the theater's projectionists for many, many years. Lionel Chauvin worked as the Capitol's Maintenance Director, keeping the grand theater spotless and ship shape.

Later, in the 1950s, usher Marion "Pencil Louie" Miecyznski and doorman Jim Kilmartin, always dressed in their taupe jackets with brass buttons -- were Capitol fixtures; candy stand girl Shirley Nadile popped the best popcorn east of the Pecos!

There were so many, many movies....on October 20 , 1946, "The Courage of Lassie" broke the previous house record in its three day run with receipts of $1,726. Tickets were 25 cents for kids. I also remember "The Yearling" playing for two weeks.

Later, in the 1950s, usher Marion "Pencil Louie" Miecyznski and doorman Jim Kilmartin, always dressed in their taupe jackets with brass buttons -- were Capitol fixtures; candy stand girl Shirley Nadile popped the best popcorn east of the Pecos!

There were so many, many movies....on October 20 , 1946, "The Courage of Lassie" broke the previous house record in its three day run with receipts of $1,726. Tickets were 25 cents for kids. I also remember "The Yearling" playing for two weeks.

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