The Last Picture Show
In the early 1970s there was an award-winning film entitled “The Last Picture Show.” It took place in a small rural town where residents were moving out, businesses were closing and the town was dying a slow death. Due to dwindling attendance, the local movie theater/picture show was forced to close its doors as well.
On Dec. 30, the Beaufort Plaza Stadium multiplex theater permanently shut down, making way for a Publix supermarket. Although the Plaza Stadium and the movie theater in the aforementioned film shared the same sad fate, the circumstances are vastly different.
Beaufort is not an area in decline but a vibrant, active, desirable place to live and move to. It is teeming with a growing population and families with children.
The Plaza Stadium was a destination where both young and old could enjoy an outing, a celebration and look forward with enthusiasm to viewing a variety of films at a reasonable price.
The smell of popcorn and the laughter and skipping of children in the lobby were a joy to behold! It was an entertainment venue in an area that does not boast a variety of activities for young people. The Drive-In Theater on Highway 21 is an entirely different experience.
For the above reasons, many people I have spoken to expressed disappointment and surprise at the closing of Plaza Stadium. I suppose that despite two grocery stores nearby, namely Bi-Lo and Walmart, another Publix on this side of town will be a convenience for local shoppers.
The question is: Why sacrifice a vital part of our community by building the supermarket on this space? Everywhere you look there are countless “For Sale” signs boasting acreage of all sizes which could have easily accommodated a Publix. It will also create a lot of traffic at an area that is already congested. The answer is simple. No one could easily challenge a goliath like the Publix corporation and this letter could probably be filed under “just some people talking.”
But isn’t it a shame that more thought, consideration and community input couldn’t have gone into a decision that will make a tear in the heart and soul of Beaufort creating an unfortunate void? Especially for families?
Progress is a fact of life. But are corporate considerations and development destined to triumph and run roughshod over the touches of humanity that make our town so special?
St. Helena Island