When classes end for the summer, his work is only beginning

NOTE: This story has been typed in from a clipping saved from the Pocono Record, as it is not available online.

“About People” feature: George Litz

By Geoff Dougherty | Pocono Record Writer

When Pleasant Valley School District teacher George Litz’s classes end for the summer, his work is only beginning.

Litz owns and operates the Casino Theatre in Mount Pocono with his wife, Sheila. The theater’s busiest times are during the summer, and Litz is kept running with booking films, maintaining the grounds and running the projector.

The Litzes bought the theater, which also houses an old-fashioned ice cream parole and a 19-hole miniature golf course, in 1975 with two other couples.

“It was a very old, grand building with a lot of character to it. It also looked like a lot of work,” Litz said.

Running the theater was hard work, but rebuilding after a fire in 1976 was even tougher. “There was nothing left. We had to bulldoze it all down and start from scratch,” Litz said.

The new theater became one of the bigger entertainment draws in the mountain area when completed.

The ice cream parlor serves 64 flavors in old-fashioned glasses. The prices are also a reminder of the past. “You can still get an ice cream cone here for $1.25,” Litz said.

The Litzes have tried to keep the same flavor for the rest of the theater. “People can feed their kids here, have ice cream, and don’t feel like they’ve left their paycheck,” Litz said.

The Litzes added the miniature golf course because they had enough land and realized it would help bring in families. “We were trying to make this an entertainment center. We said, ‘what do people like to do?’ “

The answer came from the Litz children.

“They always wanted to play miniature golf on vacation,” Sheila Litz said.

George Litz has learned to rely heavily on his wife to run the theater during the school year. “Sometimes I should be here and I can’t be here,” during classes, Litz said.

Sheila Litz handles the ice cream parlor while George maintains the golf course, runs the projection and makes repairs. “He’s the heavy around here,” Mrs. Litz jokes.

In addition to being the heavy, Litz deals with booking agents and film companies, which is his favorite part of the job. “Booking the films is a game. You either pick winners or losers, and I’m constantly trying to pick winners,” he said.

Among the theater’s biggest hits were “E.T.” and the “Rocky” series. “The first ‘Rocky,’ that was the biggest-grossing film we had here,” Litz said.

Other films haven’t been so successful. There was a movie called “Nashville” which didn’t make the grade with Mrs. Litz. “I fell asleep,” she recalled.

And another flop called “The Hindenburg.” “That one blew up on our screen,” Mr. Litz deadpanned.

Aside from those moments, the theater seems the perfect second job for Litz.

“We’ve made a lot of good friends over the years. My school schedule fits in well with my schedule here. The bulk of our business is in June, July and August, and that’s when I’m off. If every teacher wanted to get involved with a business outside school, this is the thing to do,” Litz said.