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Recalling an era when the theater came floating down the river

Long before the advent of Netflix, multiplex movie theaters, cable and satellite TV, video games and the countless other forms of entertainment that are now available at the touch of a finger, there was the James Adams Floating Theatre.

Between the First and Second World Wars, this barge with seating for 850 people would ply the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, providing for many rural residents who lived along its route their only break from the humdrum of daily life.

As it made its way from port to port, the band would strike up a lively tune as it came around the bend, letting everyone know that the show was back in town.

William Powell, events director for the Deltaville Maritime Museum, spoke about this unique cultural phenomenon that was the inspiration for the novel “Show Boat”—as well as the Broadway musical and movie that followed—to members and guests of the Gloucester Historical Society in Virginia.

The group’s quarterly meeting was held on S...

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