Saturday at the Circle Theater
by Dick Jenkins, et al
reprinted with permission

Remembering the Circle Theater, the Saturday serials and more....

Remember the good old days, Saturdays most often, when we would beg Mom or Dad for money to get to the Circle Theater? The serial would begin with a short recap of the "fine kettle of fish" our heroes managed to find themselves in the previous week, and go on to even more nail biting situations. This would give us a week to speculate how our hero would escape the dastardly deed put upon him. Occasionally we needed one of our firmly grounded friends to remind us, "Of course they won't kill Batman, then there would be no more movie." Whew, then I could sleep again. What I can recall is standing in line anxiously waiting to get in, often munching on the BIG 5 cent bag of chips already purchased in the little store on the corner across the street, Ann's Spot. Of course, the Circle Theater didn't look exactly like this when we were kids and Oak Street was a paved street in our day, but we certainly have fond memories of our visits to "the other theater" in Manchester. During our youth, the State Theater located along the east side of Main Street practically at the corner of Bissell Street was the main theater in town. "The Circle," however, seemed more appealing to most of us perhaps because of the Saturday matinee performances however the State Theater ran serials on Saturday once in a while. The Circle abutted the House and Hale Store. Do you remember Jack Sanson from the State Theater? Was there someone "in charge" (like Jack was at the State) of the Circle Theater? Does anyone remember? Do you remember the pauses for passing around of little bucket-like containers collecting monies for various things? Most often, we kids didn't have any money left to put in there! Remember how we got news of what was happening in WWII in the newsreel before the show. We probably had very little understanding at that age of what was really happening as we were so far removed from the goings on. Rationing and shortages did, however, leave an impression on our young minds.

The feature movie, "The Romance of Elaine" starring Pearl White and Lionel Barrymore, advertised above, was a silent 12 episode serial popular in 1915, lo-o-o-ng before our time.

Our classmates were 8 or 9 years old when World War II came to an end so for those of you visiting this page you will get a sample of what life was like before televisions, Little Leagues of any sport, weekly allowances and mother's taxi, when a dime bought you 10 pieces of penny candy, ZIP Codes were not invented and Franklin Roosevelt was our President.

Jack and Carol Sullivan:

When I asked Jack what his recollections of the Circle Theater were, he replied that he used to catch lightning bugs, put them in a jar and then let them loose in the theater! Of course, you could spend all Saturday afternoon watching the movies at least twice and probably all for about eleven cents!

Actually, the Circle Theater is still very much a part of our lives. Our fireplace and outside chimney are built with the bricks from the theater, so we get to see it everyday. (Evidently when the theater was torn down our bricklayer bought them.) If anyone ever wants to see the old bricks - come on over to 6 Grant Rd., Ellington.

Jim Lyons:

I spent many Saturday afternoons at the Circle. It was 9 cents admission and then soared to 12 cents when we were in Jr. high. The popcorn was a self-serve machine that mostly filled a white bag for 10 cents. There was an occasional bat spotted high on the ceiling but since this was before the days of Ozzie Osborne, the bats went unmolested.

For our hard earned money (usually from returning beer bottles for deposit) we were treated to previews, a news reel, a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat serial, and finally, the featured "show". These were matinees of course and we were startled, upon leaving, to find that the sun was still shining. We should have had a clue since there was a way to open the side exit door quickly to let your less fortunate friends in before the ushers could find out where you ended up sitting. If you had an extra nickel, it usually went for Dots, Crows, or Ju-Ju-Bes.

We "North Enders" usually walked from the area around Depot Square and then back again.

Maureen McGann Curry:

I remember going to the Circle with my mother on Friday night and for 25 cents she would receive a dish. She collected quite a few dishes but I'll be darned if I remember any movies there. My classmates seem to have better memories than me!!

Dick Jenkins:

Most of my visits to the "Circle" came on a Saturday, in the afternoon. We walked from the west side, 4 acres where we would assemble, Jim Doering, Bobby Duncan, Ron Gustafson, Carol Potter, Maureen Waddell, Sandy Taggart, Bob Morrison and others made the weekly trip.

I recall the cost of admission to be 10� One of my self imposed tasks during the week as a child was to pick up abandoned soda bottles and cash them in at stores that recycled, for 2 cents a piece. There were bottles that brought a nickel too. My absolute minimum goal for the week was 10 soda bottles with which I could legitimately enter the Circle through the front door like any self-respecting citizen, and purchase a box of Juicy Fruit candy. The last nickel went toward the purchase of Black Crow candy. I couldn't stand Black Crows but when the movie became boring I could make my way to the balcony and improve my skills of hitting GIRLS seated below on the head with these awful tasting things.

I remember the Phantom Rider Series. A man who would dress as an Indian, rode a beautiful white horse that was stabled in a subterranean cave. When injustice occurred, which fortunately for us moviegoers happened every Saturday, he would mount his trusty steed and gallop full speed out of this cave to kick butt in the name of justice. He was sort of like Ted Fairbanks of our Manchester Police Department, except he rode a horse rather than a motorcycle. I remember Red Rider, another Indian and Buster Crabbe zipping around in outer space long before Alan Sheppard was even born. Buster made a better Tarzan than he did a Buck Rogers. My Sandy says she saw �horror movies� and because of that, hates cats to this day. She recalls how in the serials they always left you up in the air at the closing each week, maybe a huge rock pushed off a cliff was about to flatten the hero, and then the words, "Return for the next episode of Batman and Robin to see if they have met their demise." (Another 20 cents down the drain)

I recall the Chinese Laundry directly across Oak Street from the Circle. They were there until the Tong War came to Manchester and most of the Chinese employees were murdered, then Pentland Florist and Pete LaFlamme's father's appliance store existed.

I remember the Lucky Strike Lanes down Oak Street past Ann's Spot on the same side as Pentland Florist. I remember Murphy's Bowling Alley next to Nassiff Arms. I remember the Fish Market on the corner of Oak and Cottage.

Jackie Bennett Mirtl:

We lived on Charter Oak St. so a trip to the Circle or State Theater was a short walk most every weekend. A lot of you brought back some fond of the first things I remembered "Gee, is that where I saw "The Outlaw" with Jane Russell??" I see Frank Grimason remembered that too!! I don't remember anyone sneaking in the side doors...I guess I was at the State Theater on those days. I do recall going at night on rare occasions and my Mother or Father would get a piece of dinnerware or something like that...maybe it was on a Wednesday or maybe a Friday night.....Listen to me...I can't remember something I did last week !!! I'm really enjoying all the 'conversations'.....Thanks again, Dick for getting us all together !!

Frank Grimason:

12 cent movies, 5cent popcorn Saturday serials seeing Jane Russell in the outlaw, sneaking in the exits, the cockroaches, Barbara Fischer�s mother selling tickets, Roy Rogers� movies, the original Circle Theater was located on Main Street up by the Salvation Army, or was that the Park Theater?

By the way you didn't say anything about Jane Russell maybe you were too young to remember.


Reproduced 2011 from with permission of its webmaster Dick Jenkins.
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