Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters
302 pages, 90 color photos, 83 black
& white photos, and color map
509 South Broadway
The Broadway Theater, at 509 South Broadway in Fells Point, came up frequently during my interviews. The fondness of Baltimoreans for this castle-like theater is easily matched by the affection so many have for the nearby Broadway Market. I sought theater memories that would capture the flavor of each neighborhood. Not surprisingly, the Broadway Market cropped up in many reminiscences about the Broadway movie house. Many charming stories were cut only because they contained similar subject matter to other recollections. It was painful to lose stories like this one, which wasn’t published because another oral history also included a childhood romp through the market. Bill Lukowski’s story about a peculiar talisman of childhood remains one of my favorites.
A farmer at the market used to sell big rabbits for two to three dollars, and he would skin them for you. But he would cut the feet off. In the Fifties, it was good luck to carry a rabbit’s foot. Every boy had to have one. I was probably nine or ten. I couldn’t afford to buy a rabbit’s foot in the store; they were 50 cents. So I got a free one from the farmer. The farmer said you have to hang it outside for a month.
I couldn’t wait a month, so I just started carrying the dead rabbit’s foot in my pocket. A bunch of us went to the movie, the Broadway, and someone says, ‘Something stinks!’ So we get up and move. And someone says, ‘It still stinks.’ So we move about three times. About the third time, I realized that the thing that stunk was the rabbit’s foot in my pocket. I surreptitiously dropped the rabbit’s foot on the floor of the theater. And we moved again. About fifteen minutes later someone must have complained to the usher, who then found the rabbit’s foot. Holding it as far in front of him as his arm could reach, he took it out of the theater.
Bill Lukowski Retired steamship agency owner
Thanks to Bill, and also to Robert K. Headley, who took this early 1970s photo. The businesses that shared the 500 block of South Broadway with the theater were Baltimore staples. Arundel Ice Cream was strategically located near numerous movie theaters, and Bristol Cut Rate’s sign lingered on this block until 2016. Lakein’s Jewelers, another Baltimore institution, also had a store near the Arcade Theater in Hamilton.