One of Rockland’s icons in the 1920-1950 era was the Park Theater on Park Street. Thousands of area residents were entertained in this movie theater. For two hours you could escape reality by watching a variety of movies: Comedy, drama, historic, and best of all, the Saturday afternoon Westerns. In the 1940s, 25 cents would get the price of admission, a box of popcorn, and a candy bar.

Saturday afternoon Westerns were the best treat. You would never go to the Park alone. Most times it would be with friends and relatives. Then you would have a favorite place to set. Next, the lights would go out, and then the screen would light up with its first feature, usually a news reel, followed by features of coming movies. Then a 15-20 minute serial, a comedy like the Three Stooges, or a drama like Captain Marvel. A cartoon would be shown if the feature film was shorter then usual, and second cartoon might follow.

For me and many others, the cartoons were the best part of the movies. Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Donald Duck, Tom and Jerry, to name a few. Then the feature Western would come on. We had choices, such as the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Johnny Mack Brown, Lash Larue, Tim Holt, Sunset Carlson. Hopalong Cassidy, plus others. The feature film would last 75-90 minutes. After the movies, a past time for many children would be to play the characters they saw in the movies. With my friends, we always had a difficult time in finding someone to play the bad guys.

In 1952, the Park Theater and Saturday afternoon Westerns came to an end. Television was new and the movie industry was fighting to attract new moviegoers by trying to increase the quality of films; thus the era of so called “B” movies was over.

The Park Theater went through a remodeling phase in early 1952, new seats, paint, lights, a wider screen was installed; then a new name, the Knox Theater. An upgrade of movies was announced, from MGM, Warner Brothers, Universal, United Artist, and Republic.

On March 12, 1952, the new Knox Theater reopened by showing “O Susanna” with Rod Cameron and “Ma and Pa Kettle” on the farm. All 612 seats were filled. How do I know? I was a usher at that time. Danny Dandeneau was the manager.

The Knox Theater could not keep up with the ever growing popularity of television and was closed and torn down in 1962 to make room for supermarket.

For a older generation like myself, every time I drive down Park Street, I can visual see the Park-Knox Theater, slow down and look at the marquee to see what is showing.

Terry Economy was born in Rockland. He graduated from Rockland High School and has had a long career in broadcasting, and is a member of the Maine Broadcasters Hall of Fame.