Capitol Cinema

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capitolWhen Livingstone Town was born in 1904 the land around was wild.  The first buildings on the site were of poles and mud, some with a bucksail for a roof.  The roads were deep sand.  Surrounding the town wild animals, especially lions, prowled in the teak forests looking for a meal.

The people who came to Livingstone at that time would have arrived by the newly constructed railway, but, before that, they would have trekked for months by ox-wagon.  Ox-wagons and mule carts were the main form of transport in the town, hence the wide roads which allowed for the turning of a wagon and its 16 oxen.

Slowly, over the years the buildings took on more of a permanent form with brick buildings taking pride of place in the town.  In 1931 a Jewish family built the Capitol Cinema right in the center of town.  Entertainment, of course, was much appreciated in such a remote area and films were brought from England.  The cinema was the latest in cinema design, with a screen for films and a stage for plays and other performances.  It was popular for many, many years.

One of the most famous people who came to town now and again was Arthur Harrington.  He was a trader who used to take goods to Western Province to trade for cattle from the area.  When Arthur came to town he loved to go to the cinema, particularly enjoying gangster movies.  He did, however, have an unfortunate habit.

Arthur, of course, carried a gun, as most travelers did in those days for protection against wild animals.  When he arrived in town he would go to a hotel and have a few whiskeys and then go off to the cinema.  Having become totally absorbed in the movie and realizing who the bad guy was, he would pull out his gun and shoot the villain on the screen.  He claimed that he always got his man.

His antics were well known and, although everyone would have known that Arthur was in the audience, it was still a shock when the gun went off in the darkness of the cinema.  I am sure that he had plenty of complaints from the other Livingstonians but he always made good the following day and paid for any repairs.

Luckily these days, guests at the Capitol Theatre behave in a far better manner!

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