Johnson City Press: Movie theaters were once a cornucopia of entertainment in downtown Johnson City
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Movie theaters were once a cornucopia of entertainment in downtown Johnson City

Bob Cox • Oct 21, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Today's column is a compilation of motion pictures being shown in the downtown Johnson City area. I crammed 11 movie advertisements into one page. That was a challenge, but well worth the effort.

A glance over it evokes some fond memories for me. Many of us oldsters would list attending movies in the theaters as never to forget entertainment.

Some of us had cap pistols that we would sneak into the Liberty Theatre in order to be prepared for any bad hombres we likely would encounter on the "big screen" down front.

There were 11 local theaters displayed: The Sevier Theatre (Spring Street), The Tennessee Theatre (West Main Street), King Springs Drive-In (King Springs Road), The Jackson Theatre (Jonesboro), The Majestic Theatre (East Main Street), The Liberty Theatre (East Main Street), King Springs (King Springs Road), The Family Drive-In (New Jonesboro Hi-Way next to the Derby Grill), The Twin-City Theatre and the Tri-City (Johnson City-Bristol-Kingsport).

The ads were very detailed with advertisements of special events such as stage shows (Tennessee Theatre and The Majestic Theatre). Singing cowboys, such as Jimmy Wakely routinely graced the stage with their special brand of harmony. "Big Band" leaders like Guy Lombardo, Sammy Kaye, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and others occasionally made their bow from an appreciative audience savoring big band music.

Epic movies frequently came to the theaters such as "The Greatest Show on Earth" with Cecil B. DeMille.

Movie stars were advertised comprised of star-studded actors and actresses. Others were hardly known such as Barbara Payton in "Lonesome? See Bad Blond."

Aimed at giving the public more entertainment, cartoons were projected on the big screen. They were comprised of "Tom & Jerry," "Roadrunner" and "Tweetie Bird," "I taught I taw a puddy tat." Others that were not specifically advertised were shown as a "Color Cartoon."

I can recall routinely going to a movie with my father. Surprisingly, we paid no attention to the start time. When we arrived, we took our seats and begin watching the flick. It didn't matter to us if the story line was just beginning, in the middle or about to conclude. That is unheard of today. We would watch the movie until the scene returned to where we came in. We knew when to leave and had no desire to stay and watch it again, unless it was a special flick.

My parents often took me to a flick. Since Mom and Dad had different movie tastes, I could choose which parent I desired to tag along with. Mom preferred musicals and attended with a neighbor or family member, while Dad was more into murder mysteries and suspense.

My grandparents, Neva and Earl Cox, often took me to a movie on early Thursday nights, which was usually at the Tennessee or the Liberty. They would pick me up at our home at the Gardner Apartments on W. Watauga Avenue and take me back after the movie concluded.

Looking back, I wonder how come we attended movies on Thursday. That was a school night. I seem to recall that they picked me up soon after supper and returned before it got too late.

Some of the best times of my life were attending a local movie with one of my family members. The story line really did not matter. It cemented our family relationships.

In conclusion, see if you can determine the year the movies on this page appeared. If you will look closely, you will find the year it appeared in the text. Most, but not all, of them were shown in the same year.

I find that movie collage very appealing; I hope you do too. I will put others in the paper in the future. Drop a note and tell me what you think of doing this.

Reach Bob Cox at boblcox@bcyesteryear.com or www.bcyesteryear.com.

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