The Palace Theatre in Belize City, long ago...
That is Big George sitting on that pig tail bucket and Sydney Fun with his semi-Afro walking behind him.
The first picture is from my childhood, the first thing I notice is the peanuts stand the man that sell that was pecka and second thing I notice is the snow cones cart that Phillip McKenzie use to sell and the third thing I notice is big George sitting on a bucket...those where the good old days main and my house was just around the corner next to where Mr Homer drug store use to be by the alley mouth on King Street.
George Villanueva: Let's not forget "Tito" he was a regular too, selling his plantains chips, one of the best.
I remember those days! I grew up on Albert street and since our neighbors were so very close together more referring to each other as brothers and sisters up to this day. Whenever we went to the Cinema it was all of us so we took turn in selecting whose turn it was to go and purchase the tickets the amounts would fill two complete rows. Who didn’t have money to pay we would come together and pay for the ticket but no one was left out. So Mr Tropi I think was his name knew us very well so whenever we went it was the last person in the line that would hand him the role of tickets. It was so much fun everyone sharing what we bought with each other and where ever we went it was the same way what ever occasion we were invited to the entire crowd was able to attend these memories can never be forgotten. A few of us has gone by but the rest of us although living in different parts of the world will never forget the love respect and care we
have for each other.
David Dulce Valencia:
As a child “The Palace Theatre” was pretty good. In the 70’s it got a bit run down. The movies on weekends were our night out from normal day to day activities. Good old days.
The movies were years old by time they got to Belize. But no matter, show was sold out every time. One spell we had four cinemas: Bel Rio, Majestic, Palace and Eden. We used to go watch movies Thursday to Sunday!
For more on the Majestic Theatre, click here!
That was because we did not have television to know that the movies were showing elsewhere so when they eventually got here it was new to us. And barely any news on radio either. We were properly shielded from the outside world and it was fabulous!
The Palace Theatre was the only Theatre where they showed Karate Movies in Chinese. You see, there was a time when Some Belizean movie go-ers were not interested in the language. They were only interested in the action parts (the fights). So every Tuesday night the Palace Theatre showed a fully Chinese Karate Movie. Often one would see Police Officer Tablada at the door of the theater with his tabran switch in his hand. He would patrol the aisles during the show trying to detect where the marijuana smoke was coming from, and looking for anyone propping up their feet on the seat in front of them. He was not different from the GSU, always quick to hit you with his baton for simlpe reason. He is one of the officers who would hit you instead of writing a ticket. Strict with his Stick.
Zaynana August: He only hit you if you was doing rass he wouldn't hit you for nothing that I know
He teach my daughter how to drive he was very strict.
He was trying to prevent our current crimes situation from arriving unfortunately time was not enough and there’s no other with the level of values from his generation to carry on.
He was our neighbor...very good human being.
When I taught at SJC ..1979 to around 1990s the mention of TABLADA put the fear of GOD in those boys. I really respected TABLADA.
The late Sgt.#358 Gilbert Tablada. As a young constable in early 84, I worked a stint under him. Very strict and disciplin Officer. Even though i lived downstairs of him on George St.with his niece my now ex wife, i had to walk a tight rope as well. After retiring, he took up driving instructing and was in my view the best. If one had earn their driving licence through him, they are considered a driver. Continue to SIP Sarge.
He meant well, but at times went over board. One year we were visiting Belize n we were taking a picture in front of where my aunt Tates lived on Church street, opposite the Estephan's, next thing we know Tablada n his truck full a police men jumped out with guns directed at us. At that time my daughter was around 3 years, she started screaming, frightened, we were too. No explanation given, we had to ask him what the hell we were doing wrong, his reply was, "u know u can't deh tek pictures of people's building'. Pictures of where my aunt lived? Crazy. We went straight to the police station n reported him n was made to apologize to us. Sad thing is, he knew us n our family, so why pull guns n scare the hell out a pipple. RIP police Tablada.
The Palace was Belize's first modern motion picture palace. It opened the 5th of September, 1927. It was owned and managed by Guy Nord. It was a two story facaded building centrally located at the heart of Albert Street. More than a 1000 people turned out for the ceremony which was officially opened by Governor John Burdon.
Nord built his Palace as a multipurpose auditorium that could accommodate a little more than a 1000 at a time in balcony and main floor seating. The screen was set permanently towards the back of stage and covered with red velvet curtains that were pulled back at the time of the film performance. The stage was designed for live performances, musical, theatrical and ceremonial. As the only theatre to be built in the era of silent movies, it was the only one in Belize designed with an orchestra pit right in front of the stage. from there the orchestra had full view of the scenes and played along to the silent images projected. The photos on the wall were framed by Mr Domingo Olivia a worker for Santiago Castillo.
The Palace Theatre on Albert St. was the last of the 1000 seat theaters in Belize. Television arrived in Belize approx 1981 with independence. That decade saw many of the big theaters close down due to dwindling ticket sales. The Palace closed in 1989 with a farewell concert by Santinos Messengers featuring many guest artists. That marked the end of an era. So Palace operated for 62 years 1927 to 1989. I believe it both opened and closed in September. The Palace Hotel was about 3 storeys high and it was a beautiful building set back off the road.
There was an ice cream parlor in front of the Palace Hotel. It was further down toward the swing Bridge just past where Eden Theatre was built. I think the name of the Ice Cream Parlor was Diddy's and it was right opposite the Pickwick Club. Folks would stop there for ice cream after school.
The Palace Theatre had a third floor where the projection room was. There were 21 steps to the second floor and another 6 steps up to the projection room. There were five holes on the wall in the Projectonist room. One that used to show the slides, there were two for the two projectors and two for the projectionist to look through. There were big heavy windows that looked like they were on a fulcrum or something. When the movie was about to start they would start to close them. The upper part was for the reserved area. The upper floor had reserve seats from A to K, those were the soft ones with green upholstery. The extra reserve was behind towards the Projectonist room, a bit harder of seats covered with red colour. Those were L to P. On the downstairs not in My time it is said there were benches near to the screen that people used to enter at the back door toward King St to pay a lesser price. And the General Admission in the rear. I was a Projectionist there. My Grandfather also used to have a saloon there. I use to carry in the tray there selling chocolates and other things. The Palace was once owned by a company with both Mr Sydney Turton and Miss Margaret Turton, and Mr. Santiago Castillo. Majestic theatre was own by Mr Santiago Castillo Sr. only. Miss Maggie as she was called, was Mr. Robert Sydney Turton's sister as I recall. Mr Santiago Castillo and Mr Sidney Thurton were both owners/partners of The Palace Theater and after Mr S.Thurton passed away his eldest daughter Ms Maggie became part owner. Mr Cyril Gibson was the manager. He was the one that prepared which movie was to be shown and what colour ticket to be used. The tickets used to have a serial number that Author Brooks aka Brooksy used to check when taking tickets at the door. Movies use to be censored on Tuesday evening at Palace Theatre. If a lady was dancing and her leg showed it had to be cut out. And replaced when the film was returned back to Panama where the films used to come from. Mr. Edward Austin, Mrs Iris Gullap and Miss Hilda Bickels used to be on the censor board. All PUP. Some films were banned all together. All advertisements used to be censored too. The Great Decroin was censored, it had a lot of sex. Even in 100 Rifles with Jim Brown and Raquel Welch the sex scene was cut out. There was a fire at the Palace once, a film vault was burned down in Simons Alley off Albert St.
Patrick Bennett Sr.
People used to climb the fence on the side of Kings St. and peep from the windows at night. The windows had to be closed for daytime shows due to sunlight. But at night they were open. At Eden Cinema one youth had climbed in behind the screen and was electrocuted.
It is a clothing store now. Nothing in there that resembles a theatre now.
Palace Theatre Farewell 1989 (Krem Radio)
Babylon Warriors 1989 in Belize at the Palace Theatre (for the final closing of the Theatre) farewell concert . Hosted by the late; Marita Espejo. The event was produced by Santino Castillo
Mikado's store occupies the site today. The Palace was Belize's first modern motion picture palace. (first modern, not first) When it opened the 5th of September, 1927, it was owned and managed by Guy Nord. Described as a two story facaded building centrally located at the heart of Albert Street, it was built to accommodate a little more than a 1000 persons at a time in balcony and main floor seating. Built during the silent movie era, it was the only one designed with an orchestra pit in front of the stage so that musicians could play along with the projected images. (Talkies didn’t come until the 30s). More than a 1000 people turned out for the opening ceremony which was officially opened by Governor John Burdon. Interestingly the first speaker was Dr. James Cran, a man who in 1919 had encouraged Governor Hutson to impose film censorship. (see Clarion review for more details) The Opening Film was Wren's, 1926 silent drama "Beau Geste" accompanied by the orchestra. The Clarion notes: "the print left nothing to be desired in clear distinct pictures and as smoking is prohibited in the proscenium the characters were not blurred by frequent palls of smoke." - info from "Towards an English Caribbean Cinema" - Suzette Zayden, MPhil Thesis (2001)
Those were the good old days,
Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Clint Eastwood. Eddie Murphy...
Movies to remember, and the 15 mins of
Cartoons before Cinema began.
Cheetos plantine chips sold in brown paper bags, Ice sold by Lamb in his wooden chart, and Dave wooden carts,
Bradda Roy parades, was sold, in buckets, and other sellers were out there.
Scalpers, selling tickets for a little profit.
And Police man Tablada, was keeping Law and order, on the ground, at the Palace theatre ; in the 70', 80.
It was sad, the Palace cinema closed its doors, early 90's when T.V came to Belize, the others followed, it were never the same again, a great childhood experiences, suddenly came to a halt!
There was a lot of love in our Belizean people, back in those good old days.
Life was so simple. We go to Church every Sunday, then Palace theatre, martinee in the evening. For us who lived on the south side of Belize.
Later in my teens years, I resided in the north side, in the Eden Ally site.
There were Belrio on North Front St, Eden on North Front St, and Majestic theatre on Queen St., and the Palace on Albert St.
This was old Belize, it was surely a good childhood.
I used to go there often. Also used to sell pepitos at matinee - one cent per match box full.
In my time, pepitos was 2 cents for a matchbox full and 25 cents for a potted meat can full.
These were lovely times! I recall that...pepitos in matchbox! WHO was so inventive to take that as a good measure to sell at an economical price of $.01 or $.02....So HAPPY that I got to experience those times!!!!!
The infamous Palace theater where Casanova with his whip was stationed by the ticket line (on the right side) to keep us in line with a swath in the general direction of the line to tighten it up. I used to get mad at that dude when he did that...Sort of humorous now, but being a hot-head when I was a youngster, I am glad guns were not popular as they are today......LMAO!
Right on brother palace theather my sister use to take me every weekend to watch a movie sometimes you fell asleep before the movie finish but fun memories. They use to get free ticket from the tea they drank in those days. Brookbond tea was the special then. Lol
Mr. Titos is in the pic sitting on a bucket... he used to sell plantain chips which was the best back then.
One of the four theaters in the city at that time.. It was on Albert street. Right now Mikados is where the theater used to be. The famous Bata shoe store was right across from it.
what I remember most is that all the out side band held their concert there like Byron Lee Sonny Bradshaw Ken Lazarus all the concert use to be there international and local artist at one of the show Sefferino Cole mom came out in a big diaper those were the good day the build was renovated and the Mikado store is there at this moment it was one out of four theaters the only one on the south side.
My Love for watching movies on the big screen came from watching movies at these theaters (Palace, Majestic, Eden and Belrio) I recalled going to the Palace the most with my parents. Not sue if it was because it showed the best movies. Saw many of the James Bond movies there. Does anybody remember the Terence Hill and Bud Spencer Moives? You can see them on youtube now. Some how they are not as funny as they were then though.
What I remember also were the boys that came around selling snacks. The had the little box with a strap around their necks. That was the only time I ever saw that in Belize. I don't know why they don't employ that more often.
It was all Belizeans in those days.
Young people was selling, and were not afraid, by the time Matinee began, they could have go in and enjoy matinee too; everything they brought out to sell was all sold, and finished.
I remember the peanuts, and pepito's man.
There was a woman that sold Tablata, Cutobrute, Fudge. Her head was always covered up, with a head wrapped.
I usually got my crackerjack in a red box that was purchased at the snack shop, inside, at the corner where the upstairs of the theatre was situated.
I developed the love for seeing movies on the big screen from that era. Saw many good movies. Palace theatre was our family favorite then Majestic, then Eden and then Belrio in that order.
Santiago Castillo took over the Palace from Nord. He may have built the Majestic. And the Encanto in the North.
Eden opened in 1958. It was owned by the Aguilar Brothers. The Opening Film was the 1956 romance/drama "Trapeze" . What was unique about Eden was, it had extractor fans to pull out the hot air, not just ceiling fans. The Eden Cinema showed a variety of Movies except Spanish Movies. Spaniah Movies were shown at the Majestic Theatre. The Eden Cinema exclusively showed James Bond Movies. Just as soon as you entered the theater all the way upfront on both sides to the left and to the right next to the silver screen, there were two majestic African warriors, with spear and shield, am guessing they were props for a movie. It had a big balcony at the front, overlooking North Front St. From this balcony we used to look down at the Texaco Gas Station which was accross the street immediately in front of the Cinema. It had two ticket booths, one one the left and one on the right side, you would go up about five stairs to access the booths. The ticket boot on the right sold only reserved and extra reserved seats tickets. Whiles the ticket boot on the left sold only main floor tickets. A group of people were picketing the Theatre when a movie by the name of The Green Berets, staring John Wayne, was scheduled to be shown. All in all the Movie was still shown several times. Tarzan Movies were shown at the Eden Cinema. I cannot recall Tarzan Movies being shown at any other Movie Theater. A man by the name of Mr. Vernon managed Eden Cinema. The building adjacent to it was Ho Chinese Restaurant.
I remember the Floats with Bells and Bugles? We used to call them Beleng-beng-beng Toot Toot Toot. Back in the Olden Days, the Movie Theaters had three ways that they would advertised. Radio Belize, Their Programs and the little Float that i mentioned. If it was a Tarzan Movie to be shown, then an actor dressed as Tarzan, in his bath trunk and knife on his side was on the Float. Western Movie: Actors dressed as cowboys with their guns were up there. War Movie: actors dressed as soldiers with guns. And if it was a cowboys and indians movie then both cowboys and indians actors. The Beleng-beng-beng Toot Toot Toot floats were fun because these actors were not just standing there. They were acting their roles. The cowboys and indians looked at each other as if though they were ready to go at it. The float would stop by the Yaborough Bridge and Tarzan would jump and take a swim.
Am not exactly sure which year Majestic Opened, but its opening film was the 1949 Musical/Romance "That Midnight Kiss". Majestic was owned by Santiago Castillo Ltd. Santiago Castillo also owned the theatre in PG. He really loved films.
Seferrno once perform in there wearing a Baby Napkin that was clip with two huge board cloth pins Was very funny. Many other Artist perform there too Anthony Richards Baron Lee and the Dragoneers even James Brown.
Palace had some large windows that had a Fulcrum bar thing at the middle and they would push it open or pull it close.
There were movie theatres in Belize before Palace opened in 1927, but they were not quite as grand as the Palace.
the first movie theatre was located in a big empty lot where a concrete wall remained standing. It was in the 20s and it burned down when it caught fire when King Kong in black & white was showing. A Bowen relative died in it.
One by Riverside Hall was there in possibly first decade of 1900. It predates the Amuse U cinema which was active in 1917.
One of the earliest moving picture show license on record in Belize was granted to Mr. Joseph Lewis by the Governor on June 7th, 1915 for the "Amuse U Moving Picture Show on Lot 1072 on North Front Street, next to Turton's premises and with an exit to the wharf". Contextually, this event coincides with WWI which began in 1914, and the end of the BOOM years for Belize (1903-1914) when "mahogany and the new staple chicle had experienced a long period of "boom" while imports, exports, profits and wages had all attained record levels." During this time, many laborers found contract work in abundance as woodcutters and chicleros in the jungle and were away for 6 months at a time. There would not have been much need for a cinema then with few people in town. WWI precipitated a decline in Belize's economy, and applications for Belize's to join the British West Indian Regiment. One month after the British War Office accepted the regiment, Mr. Lewis applied for the moving picture license. Is is possible he was merely looking for an alternative source of income and was gambling on the fact that the citizens of British Honduras would turn out in droves to see the news reels of war footage. I would also venture to guess that the Amuse U Moving Picture Show was merely a converted warehouse. In 1917, Pathe Cinema reaches out to the Governor of British Honduras to do business with local cinemas and Amuse U suddenly attracts the governor's attention and is subjected to a long list of rules and regulations. A Superintendent of Police report in Dec. 2017 describes it as "The place is very dirty and with lots of debris. There are no urinals and only one of the mandatory four exists is unblocked. In addition there is only one bucket of sand and no blanket in the operating chamber. (In those days film was very flammable). The letter from PAthe also spurs a number of applications from other parts of the colony for licenses to exhibit moving pictures. In 1917 Guy Nord registers the Belize Amusement Company and the C.U. Theatre in Belize City and effectively wipes out Mr Lewis and the Amuse U Theatre by 1919. In 1919 also J.E. Enright applies for a license for EL CAYO. S.H. Parson applies for Guinea Grass (Orange Walk), Jose. A. Rosales applies for one for Seaside hall on Albert Street in Corozal. They were all merchants. He was probably English. Maybe not, I didn't get the picture he was a darling of the Governor. He seemed not interested in anything other than profits. He didn't want to clean up the place after the police report and had some back and forth in the Minute papers. There were also a case against him for not returning films.
The policeman Casanova swings his police stick like a circus trainer handling a bullwhip. To and fro it goes from left to right to control the large crowd of Belizean matinee goers at Belize City's famous Palace Theater. He swings it to and fro with a kind of might that pushes the scalpers from around the ticket booth as the ticket lines tightened while frightened wide-eyed children dressed up in their Sunday's best saintly step back away from the stinging lashes. His commanding voice warning, "step back, step back", as he maintains discipline and order before the Wang Hu blockbuster martial arts movie, "One Arm Swords Man", makes its debut on the silver screen for the first time in the Belizean movie theater.
My eyes remained glued on Casa's every move because feeling the pain of that stick before trying to jump the line to get a ticket before it all sold out, was enough warning for me. He meant business and he showed no mercy in his wrinkled facial expression that even the so-called Belizean "Bad Boys" fled his whipping aggressions. The crowd is loud and the scalpers hold roles of tickets in their hands as though they were some kind of special interest who had a monopoly on the wholesale ticket buys. Teenage boys and girls watched them with hated eyes holding their monetary allowances from their parents tightly in their hands hoping to get to the ticket booth on time before the 5 o'clock matinee sells out. But if that happens, then most of the people in the line would be at the mercy of the buy and sellers who walked around grinning as though they know the time was coming.
Floppy, the theater's door man, is taking tickets at the door with a cool but no nonsense expression, sitting on a chair with his muscular biceps bulging out of his shirt sleeve. He chews on a gum, and the noisy view yards from where he looks approaches his space through a line at the door to enter the theater. As people hands him their tickets, he takes each ticket one by one, tears off a piece and hands back it back to them. It will allow the movie goers to come out to buy snacks and go back in to hold their seats. Bennett's saloon near the door is buzzing with buyers who are trying to grab a snack before the movie begins. And the press of customers upon each other emits a body heat that makes one withdraw and cancel buying anything anymore. Many depart the scene in front of the saloon and rush to go in trying to find a seat as the swell of the crowd inside signals an oversold showing.
The music of Boris Gardener plays melancholy melodies of the tune, "I Have Been A Rover". Fortunately many have found seats as the music teases you to a haste. But regular scenes of Belizean boys taken up out of their seats by bad boy bullies who were grown men, taking advantage of children who had come to enjoy their weekend treats. Once you get caught up in that bad luck, you better voluntarily flee your paid seat and go find another to avoid being roughed up. A childhood friend of mine told me that he once went to matinee with a bodybuilder neighbor as protection, and some bullies attempted to remove them from their seats thinking they were an easy pushover. He said his muscular associate got up and got into the face of the bullies and ripped the entire seat from the floor fearlessly telling them that now nobody will get the seat. Reflecting on how it was in the Palace Theater on Sunday Matinees in Belize City, the story was was so alarming to me that someone would actually do that. But it made me laugh so much after realizing how funny it was.
While you await the lights to go out cracking the shells of a pack of peanuts from "Pecker" the peanuts man at the corner of Church and Albert Street, you can feel the heat inside the theater from the packed house with people sitting even on the floor. Bennett's saloon send in their snack sellers who carry trays of candy, popcorn and ideals. Buying from their seats to avoid risking losing them, people stretched their hands out to the sellers to grab a last chance at a bite before the lights dimmed and the comedy cartoon preview of, "Gold Bullion Soup", flashes on before the big showing comes on the movie screen. This was no time to want to use the restroom, and holding it in until its all done became a skill that many boys my age had mastered. After the preview, the screen goes to black, and the audience awaits the epic and spectacular picture of one of the most popular Kung Fu actors, Jimmy Wang Hu, in the action packed fighting thriller in a time in Belize when martial arts movies had become so very popular in the 1970s.
Majestic, Palace and Eden Cinemas were not the first in the country.
We were trying to figure out where the this movie theater might have been located that being advertised on an old sign in Mule Park. The sign said “Padilla Brischolls matinee 5pm tonight” this sign would have been early 1900’s.
You can really see what the Palace Cinema looked like back then, look at the beautiful interior.
There was an official theater called the Amuse U that was operational in 1917 but there are references to one on North Front St earlier than that but they were probably not much more than converted warehouses.