Then and Now

Athens Post Card - 1914HistoryEarly pioneers and events that impacted Athens are here. Read more...
Store Fronts of the Town of Athens West VirginiaCommunity Businesses and organizations flourished and declined. Read more...
James French Holroyd HomeHousesHomes and buildings reflect their era and owners. Read more...

Concord Old MainSchoolsAthens got its name from its pioneer's commitment to education. Read more...
A Birthday Party for JamesOur YearsThose of us who grew up in the 1950s and 60s are featured. Read more...
DemolitionChangeOld things pass away. Change brings opportunity and sadness. Read more...

The Athens Theater

Athens enjoyed a movie theater built in 1947. In our years the admission for B-run features was 15 cents for kids and 45 cents for adults. The theater provided the first real work experience for many of us in the 1960s. We started in high school as projectionists, Athens Theatre Marqueeconcessions operators, and custodians. Working there didn't pay much, but it was a prestigious job in our minds. The benefits included free movies and popcorn, but we paid for drinks and candy.

Coach Robert Kyle managed the facility alongside his real career as coach at Concord College. In retrospect, he managed the operation much as he managed his sports teams, with encouragement but a good dose of criticism, often punctuated with a fist into the chest (which made an interesting and even amusing "thud" when inflicted on a coworker.)

Coach Kyle promoted the sale of popcorn and soft drinks. They were profitable and it was probably through these concessions that the theater survived as long as it did. Coach Kyle taught us to provide a little more than sufficient amount of salt in the popcorn to ensure that movie goers became thirsty. He provided an additional enticement for buying drinks from the vending machine by randomly stamping the bottom of one paper Coke cup with "free movie pass" when a stack of about 50 cups was loaded. As inquisitive concessions workers we learned that the bottom of the next vending cup was visible from into the opening where the Coke was dispensed, so we checked the cup status whenever possible after a drink purchase. Of course we had to be subtle, waiting for the customer to leave the lobby before getting on our knees in that awkward position. When we spotted an stamped cup waiting to be vended we paid the price of 10 cents to acquire the pass. We could then enjoy a Coke with the free popcorn and acquire a free pass which could be given to a friend. Additionally, as custodian workers, we sometimes found stamped cups on the auditorium floor, left by a someone who didn't check the bottom to see if he or she was lucky prize winner.

Interest in attending movies declined during the late 1960s. The decline coincided with other changes in Athens as we had come to know it. The theater was eventually closed and torn down. The marquee was set aside to deteriorate. The image shown above was captured by Andrew Turnbull on a return trip to his home town from his current home in Wisconsin. My friend David helped me locate the old popcorn popper in local storage. It was the center of the concessions operation we ran in the 1960's, working at full capacity under Coach Kyle's directives, "...more popcorn!!."

Coach Kyle died at the age of 96 on June 18, 2010. His obituary is here.

Special Places

Jenning's Store. This store and its owners occupy a special place in the memories of those who enjoyed Pepsi with peanuts after school in the 1960s. Write this story.

Parker Brothers. Few appliance stores could match the personal care and service provided by Frank and Fred Parker. Write this story.

Athens Market. Delivering groceries in Homer Ball's pickup truck was a "Rockwell America" experience. Often finding no one at home, there might be a note on the front door for the delivery boy to put ice cream in the freezer and vegetables on the lower shelf of the refrigerator. Write this story.

Happenings

Athens - Concord Social
Scheduled for the second Sunday in August.

Updates

What's New Since Your Last Visit? Click below for a list of recent changes and additions.

Recognitions

A Bluefield Daily Telegraph article written by Tom Bone described the purpose of this site.

A subsequent article written by Jeff Harvey for the online version of the Princeton Times appeared August 30, 2013.

Your Role

Your help needed! This preliminary edition of Athens We Knew will become more complete if you contribute information, photographs, and memorabilia. Read more...

 

Suggestions, information and photographs for this web site are welcomed. Contact us here.