Reliving my Youth Through Music

I was only eight years old when I used to walk from home to The Roxy for an afternoon matinee, usually, something from Disney or an old black and white comedy show featuring Ma and Pa Kettle, Laurel and Hardy, or the Three Stooges. By the time I’d reached my teens, the theater was renamed The Port, and featured Sunday afternoon horroramas with the likes of Vincent price, Bela Lugosi, and Peter Lorre.

Cornwall had three movie theaters, The Roxy, The Palace, and The Capital. Time wasn’t kind to them, and by the end of the twentieth century, The Palace and The Captial were closed and eventually demolished. Only The Roxy, renamed The Port, continued to compete with the new multi-screen theaters. While it was still open and showed movies that were no longer in their prime, anyone picking flaking paint from the ceiling out of the popcorn could see the writing on the wall. The place was a mess, and it would take huge amounts of money to fix it up. We expected the closed for demolition notice at any time, but such was not to be.

An enterprising young man bought an old movie theater that was falling apart. He had a vision for the place, a way to restore and rejuvenate the old gem. The young man started to peddle his ideas and drum up support as well as money in the form of heritage grants. While the building was getting a much needed indoor facelift, it continued to show second and third run movies at a discounted price. With movies as expensive as they are now, people didn’t mind seeing something six months later for only $3.50 a ticket.

The outside is much the way it used to be, kindling nostalgia in all its patrons. Located in central Cornwall on Montreal Rd., The Port Theatre is as iconic to Cornwall as it’s bridge once was. Originally titled The Roxy, the Port opened in December of 1941 to glowing success. After its opening, the Standard Freeholder called it “one of the finest theatres in the province,” costing approximately $75,000 at the time of its construction. Thanks to a young man’s remarkable vision, the Port still stands strong. Boasting an impressive marquee and distinct lettering, its iconic look has become an area fixture and is a huge part of Cornwall history. Recently purchased by Larry Sylvain (Sylvain Sound), the Port has been bringing in a plethora of live music. Unsurprisingly, it’s layout doubles perfectly as an auditorium that features some amazing acoustics.

And this was where The Port got its new life as a concert venue for live bands–not just any bands, but tribute bands, making The Port the premier live experience in town. Larry and his team have been working tirelessly to bring live events and world class music back to the forefront of Cornwall, all while delivering a great cinema experience. Featuring a full-sized stage with top-notch PA equipment, in house sound engineers, a 450-capacity room featuring an upper balcony, and a new fully licensed drink bar. The Port Theatre operates under corporate status of Sonic Amusements Ltd.

Before the pandemic, I went to see a number of different tribute bands including ABBA, Neil Diamond, Elton John, The Bee Gees, Fleetwood Mac, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Eagles, and The Beatles. Every show was a trip back in time, as we sang along with the band, got up and danced in our seats, all the while enjoying an adult beverage.

But then COVID happened and the lockdowns. I didn’t think the venue would survive, but thanks to federal funding, they managed, and the venue reopened in April. Last month, I went to see Stayin Alive, a tribute to the Bee Gees, bringing me back to the seventies when life was simpler. I may have been a stay-at-home mom with three toddlers, but life was good.

This month, I saw Help, a tribute to The Beatles, brining me back to my high school and university years. There’s nothing like the music you love to lift your spirits.

In my book, Same Time Next Year, my heroine, Twyla, uses the music of 1967 to write her memoirs. Listening to music is the best way to bring back memories, emotions, and reactions to the events from the past that shaped our future.

A novel within a novel. For three short weeks, Twyla Lancaster was the fairy tale princess who’d found her prince, but just like that, reality ripped them apart. Now, fifty years later, she needs to know why the only man she ever loved broke his promises. As she writes her memoir and learns more about that summer, she realizes things were not what they seemed. Hormones raced, promises were made, but Twyla left Michael Morrison high and dry, and within weeks, married someone else. Grieving the loss of his parents and her betrayal, he turned his back on love, focusing on his military career. Now, goaded by his sister, he agrees to attend a wedding and reunion, knowing Twyla will be there. It’s time to find out why she lied to him all those years ago. The moment the star-crossed lovers see one another, love blooms between them, but when Michael discovers Twyla’s secret, he’s devastated. Is love enough to erase fifty years of pain and betrayal?

As I look forward to seeing The Eagles in August, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite 1967 songs.

To all my Canadian friends Happy Canada Day, and to my American friends, Happy Fourth of July! See you next month.

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About Susanne Matthews

I'm a retired high school English teacher turned author. I'm Canadian. My husband and I have been married 48 years and have 3 children and 5 grandchildren, as well as 2 step-grandchildren.  I enjoy traveling, especially somewhere warm in winter.

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