K.C. Powell delivered movie goods at Strand

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2016

With much emphasis being placed on Bub (Gideons) and his energetic committee reviving our Strand Theatre, I am reminded of a situation that occurred back in the 1940s.

K.C. Powell told me about this many years ago when we were having morning coffee at the Sweet Shoppe Cafe. An employee with Strand’s parent organization, The Martin Theatre Group, K.C. delivered movie reels to the Martin chain throughout south Alabama. His job was to get there on time so that the reels could be played at their designated time.

He said his delivery truck broke down on him one Saturday morning and he was unable to get the weekly chapter of the cliffhanger movie to the theatre on time. Now Saturday was a real big day for movies because area and local residents flocked in to see “the cowboy show the continued picture, the double feature show and the cartoon.”

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Well, back at the theatre following the first showing of the cowboy movie, the theatre manager turned on the stage lights, went onto the stage and told the audience the current chapter of the serial movie (the continued picture) would not be available until later in the afternoon or that night. Of course everyone was disappointed, but the manager offered them free popcorn to offset the inconvenience. He also gave them “rain check” tickets to come back that night.

Meanwhile, K.C. worked diligently to get the truck back in operation and he said he made it to the theatre at about 8 p.m. When he got there, he said a long crowd of people had assembled and were waiting for “the serial” to come on the screen.

Now, you may not realize this, but back then, those Saturday cliffhanger serials were avidly looked forward to. Most fans could name practically every serial that played in those days. I asked K.C. if he remembered the name of the delayed serial and he said, “I sure do. It was ‘Batman and Robin.’” I particularly remember that serial and I can easily understand how those patrons felt when that current chapter was not available.

K.C. said the manager was real nice again offering the patrons a second round of popcorn as a means to keep them happy.

As a youngster, I can remember sitting there on a front seat watching those Saturday matinee picture shows. I also remember many of the serials that played during the mid to late 1940s. They included “Captain Marvel,” “Captain Midnight,” “Valley of Vanishing Men,” “Don Winslow of the Navy,” “Don Winslow of the Coast Guard,” “The Phantom,” “Dick Tracey,” “Manhunt of Mystery Island,” “The Masked Marvel,” and I could go on and on.

So we say thanks to Bub’s group for keeping those “picture show going days” alive by restoring our “beloved Strand Theatre.”

By the way, I have several more stories of incidents related to the Strand. In fact, my stories have never been aired or written. I feel sure you will find them not only interesting but informative as well.

I did not realize Wind Creek employed so many folks from Monroe County. But a long time employee there told me quite a few came down here looking for work following several plant and business shutdowns in our friendly neighboring county. Actually, the tribal operation fits right in geographically, especially since Monroe’s inward location is off the beaten path of Internet travel. It is good they have found jobs here.

We are fortunate to be so well located on the interstate, making it ideal for future commercial locations here. And, of course we are especially hopeful Airbus will include us in future offshoot ventures. After all, with exception of the Bay Minette exit, we are the second most accessible exit on I-65.

A few years ago, I wrote that our column was carried nationwide on the Internet and we never know who reads our writings. I have received an email from a man who recalled my writing about the $2 bill. He wrote, “I worked at Goodwill Manufacturing Plant and I was often kidded about being paid in $2 bills.”

He said it was sometimes embarrassing having to explain to his friends that he did not get those bills at the Pensacola Dog track. I understand there was a time when the track paid winners in $2 bills.

Another reader, a lady, sent me an email questioning my source in the “haunted house” story in Uriah. I explained to her that particular column was based on a nationwide TV show. I further explained to her that the story particularly caught my attention because the man who originally owned the house, Gene Garrett, was a close friend of mine.

Yes, these old stories continue to pop out of my mind and onto the pages of the Atmore Advance each week. I get such a pleasure extracting these memories from my mind and converting them into column after column. I hope you get as much satisfaction reading them as I do writing them.

More next week.

Contact Lowell at exam@frontiernet.net.