A love of theaters and volunteering - Salish Current
April 26, 2024
A love of theaters and volunteering
Kathy Reim

A place to celebrate, to dance, to laugh or cry or contemplate ideas inspired by the art of film, the Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon turns 98 years old this year. A longtime volunteer details how the nonprofit venue plays multiple roles — some unexpected — for patrons and supporters. (Salish Current)

April 26, 2024
A love of theaters and volunteering
Kathy Reim

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The essays, analyses and opinions presented as Community Voices express the perspectives of their authors on topics of interest and importance to the community, and are not intended to reflect perspectives on behalf of the Salish Current.

Commentary: How small-town connection and hope emerge out of volunteering.

What movie or film speaks to you about your life or passion? For me a connection to the movies is part of my lifelong experience. It has turned out to be a way to celebrate art, theater, community and connection through volunteering. 

The historic Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon is an easy place for me to love. My husband Robert and I went to the movies there as newlyweds in 1966, and continued through the years — even during the decades we lived in Whatcom County. We watched with sadness as the Lido and the Lyric theaters in Mount Vernon closed. I had students in my English classes in Sedro- Woolley write research papers about the Dream Theater that had once played an important role in that community. We joined the Mount Baker Theatre and the Pickford in Bellingham. We gathered up precious memories. 

How did we become volunteers? Well, the best way is to have a friend invite you to get involved. After moving back to Skagit County, I was asked to serve on the Lincoln’s board of directors for a few years. Since marketing is also a critical area for local arts groups, Robert and I volunteered to put up posters over 10 years ago. 

We were asked to place posters in Burlington, and we discovered I had a knack for placing the tape on just the right way, and Robert had the best sense of symmetry. We laugh that finding ways to work together in harmony is one key to a long-time relationship. Laughing a lot helps, too. 

Getting the word out: Kathy Reim, at left, and Robert Reim, right, prep a poster for display in the front window at Melody’s Flower Shop in Burlington, while recently retired store founder Melody Snyder looks on. What started as a volunteer activity for the Reims has become a source of connections throughout the community. (Amy Nelson / Salish Current © 2024)

What we did not expect was to find ourselves becoming connected to the people we met along the way. Robert and I were recently invited to the surprise retirement party for Melody Snyder. Melody’s Flower Shop is one of our favorite stops on our route. Melody always greets us with her warm smile and shows a genuine interest in us and in what events are coming to the theatre. 

It is exciting that our friend Melody is passing along her beautiful business to a new owner, Amanda Benson. We look forward to forming a new friendship on our visits to the shop, and to continue to find the perfect gifts. 

Our connection to Burlington grew over the years as we discovered places to dine and started paying attention to the civic events advertised at the Chamber of Commerce. Even during COVID, as we sadly saw some places close, we felt that sense of small-town connection.

Without a doubt, our hometown hearts are in Sedro-Woolley where my husband grew up, and I had a wonderful 30-year teaching career. But there are over 50,000 of us who live in the unincorporated areas of Skagit County, and we love spending our time in all our towns. We notice civic leaders who include all the county in their pronouncements and we hear the word “diversity” when they speak. 

The film that speaks to my husband’s life growing up as a Clear Lake boy is “Stand by Me.” The film that speaks of my growing up is “The Last Picture Show.”

It is based on a story by Larry McMurtry who grew up in a small North Texas town close to mine. The film captures authentic details from the way a door hangs on the hinges to a tumble weed bouncing across the street. It is ruthless in showing the racism and cruelty, but also captures the role theaters have played in our social fabric. In high school, I worked at my hometown picture show — a replica of the other treasure in Skagit County: the historic theatre in Concrete. 

The Lincoln Theatre, where our family has celebrated birthdays and danced to amazing musicians and wept through incredible films, is turning 98 years old! I have no family or classmates left in my hometown. The theatre and all the “old” buildings are gone. I have no reason to go back. Robert and I volunteer with the Lincoln Theatre because we have so much fun. We love to meet up with our friends such as Melody. 

But the hope of our hearts is that preserving historic places brings joy to everyone who wants to come home again.

— By Kathy Reim

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