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Tuesday, August 13, 2013
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Northfield Drive-In Still a Summer Star

A drive-in theater has been saved for the Valley and the nation.

After nearly 400 cars piled in to the Northfield Drive-In on Saturday night, August 3, the owner has announced that the theater will not be closing at the end of this season.

Up against an imperative to find some $200,000 to invest in digital projection technology, Mitch Shakour, proprietor of the legendary drive-in where three scenes from The Cider House Rules were shot in 1998, was on the brink of declaring this its last summer in operation. But he and his wife decided to give the Franklin County favorite another chance if 200 cars came in on August 3, which was the theater’s 65th anniversary.

Two hundred showed up for the triple feature—and more kept coming. So the news is good: the theater that’s been a scene of summer outings for several generations will stay open for the time being, at least, and patrons can watch movies in their cars and crunch on popcorn just as people used to do in the ‘50s (also reminiscent of the ‘50s is the fact that your credit card won’t do you any good here, but your pet is welcome).

The historic status of the Northfield Drive-In rises as the number of drive-in theaters in the country falls. According to the theater’s web site, it’s one of only 20 in New England; according to drive-in tracker drive-ins.com, it’s one of 364 park-and-watch film venues left in the U.S., down from a high of 4,000 or more in drive-in-loving 1958.

 

By the Numbers

The percentage of American workers who don’t qualify under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which went into effect 20 years ago this month. The law, which grants workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child or to care for an ill family member, does not apply to companies with fewer than 50 employees. In some cases, qualifying employees must pass on the benefit because they can’t afford to lose any income. 

 

No Butts in Pharmacies

Amherst has joined 65 other towns in Massachusetts by prohibiting pharmacies, and stores that have pharmacies, from selling cigarettes. Cigars can still be sold either in packs of four or more, or as singles for at least $2.50 each. Cigars and their prices are regulated because a Boston study three years ago found that 50 percent more high school students liked “cigars, cigarillos or little cigars” than liked cigarettes.

In the Valley, sales of cigarettes are already banned in pharmacies in Springfield, West Springfield and Montague.

 

March on Washington

Next week, people from around the country will gather in D.C. to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington—and to protest continuing injustices. “Because of the urgent need to fully restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to demand justice for Trayvon Martin and to repeal Stand Your Ground laws across the country, let’s make this march even larger than the March On Washington in 1963,” the Rev. Talbert Swan II, president of the NAACP of Greater Springfield, recently wrote to supporters.

To help people get to the Aug. 24 march, the NAACP’s New England Area Conference is sponsoring buses to Washington from around the region, including Springfield. The buses are due to depart late on the evening of Friday, Aug. 23, and return the following evening; full details will be given upon registration. Fare is $85 per person. A link to the registration form can be found at www.facebook.com/naacpspringfieldma. For more information, call 617-323-8885.

 

From Our Blogs:

“It’s easy to lose sight, in gun debates, of the fact that there are viable methods of self-defense other than guns—weapons or methods that don’t go off when you’re cleaning them, dropping them, or leaving them where kids find them. A gun is sometimes clearly more effective, but owning one is a particularly high-stakes trade-off.” –From Ten Gallon Liberal, a blog by James Heflin

Worth Quoting:

“I am pleased to confirm that I have received the overwhelming support of the Democratic Caucus to succeed Senate President Therese Murray, when her term ends [in March 2015]. I think it is important that we have resolved this question quickly and amicably.”

—State Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg, D-Amherst, in a statement issued on July 31, 2013, more than a year and a half in advance of Murray’s departure from the post due to term limits for the position of Senate president

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