Coffee at the cinema
In 1949 Carolina Ferreira was 17 years old and went to work as a maid for Mr. Adualdo Gonçalves de Azevedo. He was a well known theatre buff who managed the bar at Cine-Teatro Neiva, in Vila do Conde. She told me that among her house duties, she had to make the coffee that was then taken to the bar in pitchers.
António Alves, who was dating Carolina, helped carrying the pitchers. In that way he went in before the sessions started, and watched the films and the shows without paying, while waiting for Carolina to finish her work. During the intermissions she went up to the boxes and served coffee and sold sweets, when she went past António she filled his pockets with candy.
Carolina, my mother, worked at Cine-Teatro Neiva until she was 22, when she married António, my father.
Born in 1916, Artur do Bonfim remembers going to see Charles Chaplin at the Afonso Sanches Theatre, in Vila do Conde. He says that in those days of silent films the person who played the piano accompanying the movies was the composer João Saraiva.
Afonso Sanches had been made to match Theatro Circo in Braga and Sá da Bandeira in Oporto, it hosted all kinds of shows. Artur do Bonfim was into amateur theatre and also played there a few times. He can remember the arrival of sound films in 1934 and the first sound film he saw: “O Congresso que Dança” (Der Kongreß Tanzt, by Erik Charell).
The Afonso Sanches started to decline as it entered the 1940s and films started to be shown in the esplanade of Avenida Júlio Graça for some years during the summer.
Still in the 1940s a new cinema appeared in Vila do Conde. The newspaper Renovação – Pela Terra, pelo Estado Novo, published several articles that tell us about a certain sadness due to the fate of the old theatre which was then owned by Santa Casa da Misericórdia, a major Portuguese charitable institution, but also of a certain controversy regarding entrepreneur Joaquim de Oliveira Neiva’s new theatre
In 1949, Artur do Bonfim was already a journalist and manager of Renovação and had a reserved seat at Cine-Teatro Neiva, as did journalists from other newspapers such as Primeiro de Janeiro and Jornal de Notícias, which were granted in exchange for publicity for the weekly film in their dailies. He tells us that he doesn’t remember the films shown at Neiva in those days, that he went there to keep old José Maria company (José Régio’s father) and to have a cup of coffee.
Cesário M. F. Alves from oral accounts by Carolina Ferreira and Artur do Bonfim