If you build it they will come


I know many of our neighbors have been vaccinated and many of us still wear masks when going to the post office or the store.

I understand. Be careful. If Mr. COVID catches you by the lungs, it won’t be nice to see.

But the state’s case count appears to be declining, and Maine CDC director Dr Nirav D. Shah is breaking a cold sweat when reporter Don Carrigan asks him for the latest numbers.

So, says Ham Meserve of Southport, maybe it’s time to go to the movies. On October 1, after being in the dark for about 18 months, Ham and his wife Helen opened the Harbor Theater, turned on the popcorn machine, and booked real movies for our enjoyment. They expected to start slowly and were right. After all, we are still recovering from a pandemic that claimed the lives of over 700,000 souls.

They opened with a family film, “The Addams Family 2”. The first night, they welcomed nine clients. The second and third brought in 38 in total. But wait, there is more. The next attraction is, (drum roll), Bond. James Bond.

Called “No Time To Die,” it features the ultimate secret agent (now retired) battling the usual cast of bullets, girls and baddies determined to blow the world up, or at least bring it out of its way. axis.

Bond, James Bond, has been a blockbuster movie franchise since 1962, when Sean Connery exploded his eyes (and ours) as he watched Ursula Andress emerge from the ocean and plunge into the dreams of teenagers around the world. Bind. James Bond, had “Goldfinger”, “Diamonds Are Eternal”, “Specter” and for 27 episodes starring Connery, David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.

It is a formula based product. Just add spectacular scenery to non-stop action. Then mix in lots of hot girls, muscular dudes, and evil villains, cover it all in the familiar musical theme, and – Voila. Bond, James Bond is back on the case.

Better yet, going to the Harbor Theater gives us the opportunity to be entertained outside of the family TV room.

Of course, we were fascinated by “Game of Thrones”. We loved the convoluted storylines punctuated by plunging dragons, hot girls, handsome guys, and evil villains. And we could watch the action in our pajamas. But some put those activities on hold at home when we learned new words, like Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J. They made it safer to venture outside of the family compound.

When we got out we got to talk to real people again. Hopefully Zoom Meetings will be in the rearview mirror soon.

In recent months, the Meserves have worked hard to modernize the theater. The sound is better and the paint is fresh. Now all they need are customers. They know their likely audience is between 50 and 85. You know, adults who fondly remember spending Saturday afternoons at the neighborhood theater. For a quarter, you’re entitled to a double feature film, an hour of cartoons, and a box of candy guaranteed to ruin your teeth.

So to make sure their clients, the most vulnerable to the disease, are safe, they all insist on being vaccinated and wearing a mask. “That’s unless they’re eating hot popcorn,” Ham said.

Opening a movie theater in a community of less than 10,000 inhabitants is an act of faith. Ham has tons of faith in the movies. He honestly had it, as the son of one of the iconic actors of the 30s and 40s, Margaret Hamilton, best known for playing the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz”.

But, as a retired international banker, he knows it’s wise to cover all the bases and do your best to entertain and protect your audience.

To lure them into the seats, he booked a pair of blockbusters, following the Bond epic with another epic, “Dune,” the film version of Frank Herbert’s futuristic sci-fi classic. Here is the short version of the story. A very evil usurper tracks down a royal prince who hides with a group of oppressed peasants on a wild desert planet ruled by giant worms. It can’t be missing.

We are fortunate to still have our own local entertainment venues, such as the Harbor Theater and the Opera House. Many communities saw them leave years ago.

But, Ham is a shrewd businessman as well as a movie buff. He’s compiled the numbers, looked at the tea leaves and believes it can make it happen, for all of us. In movie parlance, “If you build it, they’ll come.” Will it work? Ham hopes so.

Me too.


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