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Long Meadow Cinema's screens go dark

March 02, 2001

Long Meadow Cinema's screens go dark



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Long Meadow Cinemas closeFor years, Long Meadow Cinemas seemed to be the poor relation of the R/C Theatres chain in Washington County.

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Small and dated, the discount theater didn't have the reclining seats, huge screens and superior sound system that Hagerstown Cinema 10 or Valley Mall Movie 16 boast.

On Feb. 25, Long Meadow Cinemas closed, Dennis Daniels, chief of operations for R/C Theatres, said.

"It just wasn't doing well financially," he said.

It wasn't always that way.

In its early years in the 1960s, the theater was often crowded with youth from the North End who walked to the movie house to take in a flick.

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On weekends, and even on some weeknights, crowds of young people stood in line to see "Jaws" or "Grease."

North End resident Justin Mayhue said he has fond memories of attending the theater in the 1970s.

"When the other theaters in the city closed it was the only place to go," he said.

Built in the 1960s, the theater was modern for its day, Mayhue said.

The theater was no longer modern, and despite its low prices - tickets sold for 75 cents to $2.50 depending on the night - the crowds never came.

"It wasn't viable," said Daniels.

The theater changed hands a few times before R/C Theatres purchased it several years ago, Daniels said.

He wasn't sure how long R/C Theatres of Reisterstown, Md., had owned the movie house in Long Meadow Shopping Center. The chain also owns Hagerstown Cinema 10 on Leitersburg Pike and Valley Mall Movie 16 in Hagerstown.

Deborah Hunt, a spokeswoman for the Long Meadow Shopping Center, said she didn't know whether another movie chain would lease the theater.

In 1978, Mayhue said he watched the classic comedy "Animal House" at Long Meadow Cinemas.

"It was packed," he said.

That same year, he watched "The Dawn of the Dead," and loved every minute of it, he said.

"We used to go to the Baskin-Robbins and then to the movies," he said.

The ice cream/movie combination was a favorite with former Hagerstown Mayor Steve Sager, who grew up in the North End.

The Baskin-Robbins ice cream store, which was once at the Long Meadow Shopping Center near the theater, "was a regular stop before and/or after the movies," Sager said.

In 1977, Sager went with friends to see "Star Wars," which would become one of his favorite science fiction movies.

"I remember seeing the wording on the screen so closely angled. It was really crowded," he said.

Sager said Long Meadow Cinemas wasn't the biggest or the most historic movie house in the area but it was treasured by residents because it provided nearby, inexpensive entertainment.

"I'll miss it. It brings back a lot of good memories," he said.

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