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By Mel Makaw
contributing writer 

I'll miss the Hitching Post

On the Bright Side

 

March 2, 2024



Like many of you, I was terribly sad to find out that the Hitching Post Theater in our fair little town has closed its doors for good.

I'm very sad for the reason it closed – the death of the owner – and I offer my condolences to his family and friends and employees. I only met Will Viner one time years ago, when my Art Center was having an art show opening with an Ode to Hollywood theme. I went into the HP to buy some movie popcorn for our grand red-carpet event, and he just donated two large trash-bag sized bags full. I understand this was not an unusual thing for him to have done.

I'm also very sad that I won't be able to go to the Hitching Post anymore. I loved going to the movies there. It was a smaller, older theater – not as fancy as some – but it was the hometown theater with local owners and employees, and that makes a huge difference. Prices are up all over everywhere, but the HP still managed to keep prices lower and be the best deal around.

They also did a great job of bringing in a variety of movies for their four screens. The individual screening rooms were small and intimate (no bad seats), but you still got the big screen experience. The seats were comfy enough, and there were several snack bar choices (and the popcorn was fresh!). The only problem I ever had at the HP was fitting into one of the tiny bathroom stalls...

All in all, the Hitching Post was a treasure in our little town, and I really appreciate them for doing such a good job for movie lovers like me. I love going to the movies, and I loved going to see them in our hometown movie house.

I'll miss seeing Chris at the box office, where we'd sometimes exchange thoughts on the movies that were showing or coming soon (or the books he or I were reading). I'll miss the helpful young folks who tended the snack bar. I'll even miss the local slides shown before the movie started.

I'll miss something else, too, that is harder to define or express: the sense and comfort of a small-town theater and all the feels that that implies. I liked seeing the same people selling tickets and popcorn and drinks, and I liked going into the Hitching Post knowing I would probably see several other people I knew who also loved movies (and I almost always did) and having that shared experience of being shown a good story in the company of others.

Thanks to the pandemic closing most indoor public venues for a few months a couple of years ago, I know many people got used to watching movies at home. I know that before Covid when I went to the HP it was often full of customers, and afterwards not so much. Sadly, there have been times lately when my friends and I were the only people in any given showing; even the more well-known/popular first-run movies weren't that well attended. I suppose that's the downside of running a small-town movie house – it needs more support to stay open than it gets these days.

I wish things were different. I wish the family that ran the Hitching Post could have seen a way forward and kept the theater open, but I understand it was not feasible for them as they navigate the loss of their loved one and the realities of running a business (and I thank Will Viner for keeping the theater open as long as he did).

As it is, I'm thankful for the memories – I had lots of fun times at the HP – of many movies and many good times with lots of friends.

And I can't help but harbor a hidden hope that someone, someday, will step up and reopen, if not the actual Hitching Post, something very much like it.

© 2024 Mel Makaw. Mel, author of the book On the Bright Side, a Collection of Columns (available locally at Tehachapi Arts Center and Healthy Hippie Trading Co.), has been looking on the bright side for various publications since 1996. She welcomes your comments at morningland@msn.com/.

 
 

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