By Audrey Spencer
The Cove Herald
Saddle shoes and Elvis were all the rage when Cove Theater first opened its doors.
Today, the building sees much less excitement.
The ticket booth windows are cloudy. The snack bar is empty and clear of concession machines. Cartoon characters remain as outlines on the front of the counter.
Cove Theater, however, serves as a meeting place for the local Young Life outreach ministry and hosts sporadic shows, such as Mr. P, master hypnotist, but is otherwise quiet.
"Everybody that grew up here recognizes it and used to go to the movies there when they were kids," said Jack Smith, current owner of the theater. "It's an iconic building for Cove."
The decline in action seen by the theater coincided closely with the opening of the cinema on Constitution Drive. The one-screen, 150-seat theater on Avenue D had a hard time competing.
The theater was put up for sale in 2009 by then-owner Brandon Sanders. At that time, it was still showing movies on the weekends. Now, the projection and sound equipment is absent from the back of the theater, and the screen hasn't been lowered for some time.
"I didn't want to see it deteriorate," said Smith, who remembers watching the high school performance of "The Wizard of Oz" at the theater as a child. "I kinda thought I'd rescue it, but it's been a drain."
The costs of utilities and maintenance to the building add up, but Smith said he hopes it will come back to life.
"I hope sometime maybe a community group or a theater group will come in," he said. "Entertainment for the kids and people of Copperas Cove."
Organizations and entertainers that use the theater, such as Young Life, Mr. P, and Communities Helping Americans Mature, Progress and Succeed, do appreciate the theater for what it is, even in its less-than-desirable state for showing movies.
"It's central to where most of the Copperas Cove High School students live, and its size helps us get a volume of students in there," said Linda Tiemann, team leader of Young Life in Cove. Young Life meets in the theater on Monday evenings.
Mr. P, a local hypnotist, performs shows at the theater about once a month.
"I just wanted to keep this place open," he said. He has dreams of hosting a "Battle of the DJs" and open mic nights at the theater, also.
Copperas Cove Independent School District athletic director Jack Welch said he hopes to host events at the theater, such as concerts and talent shows, to benefit CHAMPS, a program within America's Drug-Free Productions that encourages students to stay off drugs and abstain from alcohol.
"Jack Smith has been very kind and cooperative and helpful to the students," said Welch. "We have the auditorium at school, but that's used quite a bit. This is more intimate, so you can have smaller events and it'll be full, and you can get a lot of excitement."
Smith, who works for Donlie McMullin Realty, said he doesn't have the time to get into the movie business, but said he would be willing to rent to somebody who does.
While the small concession stand is clear, the popcorn, hot dog and nacho machinery is still in the building.
"Projection equipment is not there now, nor are the speakers," said Smith, "but I think that's all (it would need.)"
Contact Audrey Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476.