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Clyde and Mary Hudson, owners
of the Capri Theatre in Gaffney, discuss local theatres

Gaffney, SC - June 31, 2002.

Clyde Hudson:

“A television crew from the Greenville educational station shot an episode of “Upstate Memories” about the Capri Theater in Gaffney and the Tryon Theater in Tryon, North Carolina. When the program ran, we got letters and calls from as far away as Arkansas. One fellow called who had been in the theater business. His father was also in the theater business and had a portable projector he took around rural areas. He showed the movie on the side of a barn.”

Mary Hudson:

“The Hamrick, just down the street, was a nice theater but it just deteriorated after movies were no longer shown. The roof started leaking. It was offered to the local community theater but the inside had gotten really bad so they didn’t take it. It stayed empty for a few more years and they just tore it down.”

Clyde Hudson:

“The Capri used to be the Cherokee Theatre. When the Cherokee opened it seated 500 people. It had a stage then. Many country and western singers of the time like Little Jimmy Dinkens and Ernest Tubb would put on their shows in the local movie theaters because that was the only place they had to play.

One of the amazing things about this theater is that is has been run continuously since it opened in 1936. The theater was remodeled from front to back in 1969 and 1970. The city had an ordinance that said nothing could hang over the sidewalk so the marquee had to be taken down then.

Mary and I moved down here from Albermarle, North Carolina in 1969. I worked for Stewart and Everett Theaters. They sold off a lot of their one-auditorium downtown theaters about that time. Later on, they sold off to Carmike Theaters.”

Mary Hudson:

“We couldn’t show movies on Sundays until sometime in the 1970’s. We were the last theater in South Carolina to show movies on Sunday. Then for a long time we couldn’t open until one o’clock and we had to close between five and seven because those were church hours. Eventually the bowling alleys and skating rinks applied pressure and we were able to stay open on Sundays.

Sometimes people bring their children back to see movies at the Capri. One woman came to me and ask, “Do you remember me?” I told her, “Yes, you’re the one who wrote on the ladies’ room wall. I gave you a roll of paper towels and a bottle of cleaner and made you clean it off.” The woman said, “That was me all right.”

Clyde Hudson:

“Our oldest son took his first steps in a theater in Forest City. And our youngest son took his first steps in a cinema in Rock Hill.”

Mary Hudson:

“When our son Beau was a toddler, he stayed with me in the booth. He played in a crib while I made reel changes. The reels were shorter then and the equipment wasn’t automated.”

After two hours of laughter and conversation about movie theaters, we said good-bye to the Hudsons. I told Mary that it might be a long time before we finished the book on South Carolina movie theaters. “It doesn’t matter,” she said, “if you never do. It just means so much that you stopped and asked us about it.”

Mary, Beau, and Clyde Hudson
Mary, Beau, and Clyde Hudson

Clyde and Beau Hudson
Capri's Projection Booth

Projector at Capri Theatre
Beau Hudson with Projector

Capri Theatre, Gaffney, SC
Capri Theatre

 

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