You could say that working at the Newtown Theatre as a teenager in the late 1940s paid off for 87-year-old Dave Pannepacker.
“I ended up marrying the daughter of the couple who ran the theatre in those days,” says Pannepacker, a lifelong Newtown resident who worked for three years as a theatre usher. “My father-in-law, David Fulton, ran the projector and my mother-in-law, Katherine, worked in the ticket booth and sold concessions.”
A graduate of the Chancellor Street School in 1950 (predecessor of Council Rock High School), Pannepacker describes the Newtown of his youth as a much quieter place.
“Back then the only entertainment in town was the theatre and the bowling alley,” he says. “Newtown was just Newtown Borough, there was nothing outside of town except farms.”
His memories of working at the theatre are vivid, even 70 years later.
“We had two movie screenings a night back then, seven days a week,” he says. “High school graduations were also held there. The restrooms were under the stage. The only food we sold was popcorn from a very small popcorn machine. I had a flashlight and my job was to see people to their seats.”
After a stint in the Air Force following high school, Pannepacker returned to Newtown and worked for the Postal Service for 37 years. He took in the periodic movie in the succeeding decades, first with his wife and later with his growing family. The theatre is a point of pride for him.
“I still like to brag about it…we have the oldest continuously operating movie theatre in America right here in Newtown,” says Pannepacker, who purchased bricks in the theatre’s front patio years ago in honor of his late wife and two children who have passed. “It was the best job I ever had.”