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Save The Senator

The Senator must be saved. And we can do it.

This hole that The Senator is in is not of its own making. For a couple of years now, it's been restricted as to what movies it can run.
When I was a child, The Senator was only one of many wonderful movie theaters I had the pleasure to go to. Downtown theaters were truly palaces. With their double balconies and grand main floors, they could, and did, seat thousands at every performance. The Stanley, The Mayfair, The Hippodrome all live large in my childhood memories.

But downtown was for special shows, special occasions. On a weekly basis, we went to our neighborhood theaters, and I, living in Northwood, had plenty to choose from. If it was a cinemascope movie, we went to the Northwood Theater. But for "regular" movies, we had our choices: The Playhouse, The Boulevard, The Arcade, or The Senator, among others.

All of the downtown theaters, except for the magnificent Hippodrome, are gone or considered beyond repair. And all of those neighborhood theaters are closed, too--all of them, except The Senator.

And, if we, as a community, don’t do something soon, it, too, will be gone.

Most of you have read about the $91,000 standing between The Senator’s survival and it being sold on the auction block. That sounds like a lot of money. How can we possibly do anything to help? But, of course, if only 900 people can fork over $100 apiece, that’s pretty much it: $90,000. On the other hand, just $1, donated again and again, can add up to the same.

Why should we help?,p> Yes, The Senator is a private business. And, yes, we’re not getting anything concrete in return. There’s no free movie tickets in this, folks. This is true philanthropy.

But we should help.... We should help because this hole that The Senator is in is not of its own making. For a couple of years now, The Senator has been restricted as to what movies it can run.

Yes, restraint of trade is unconstitutional, but that didn’t seem to stop the movie powers-that-be from creating arbitrary rules about who can and who cannot run certain films.

That "difficulty" has been dealt with, and, according to the theater, "...will soon come to a blessed end." However, this ending will do the theater little good, if its doors are boarded up.

Think of the yearly Film Festival. Think of all the great movies that have premiered there in recent years. Think of how you felt the first time you grabbed hold of those giant brass handles and walked through The Senator’s glass doors and into the marble-floored rotunda. You looked up in wonder; I know you did. Don’t let that wonder fade.

The Senator must be saved. And we can do it. We don’t need an act of congress or a bill sent to the state delegation. All it takes is writing a check, or, if you’re a regular E-Bay user, a Paypal account; or just go to the movies!

Whatever you do, do it soon. The deadline is coming really soon. If February 21st comes and goes without that $91,000 being collected, the theater goes dark. And I, for one, can’t stand the thought of that happening.

For more information about how to donate or just to see what’s playing, go to

Lynda Lambert, of Hampden, teaches college-level English. She is a frequent Chronicle contributor.

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This story was published on February 12, 2007.