In the mid 1950s the average movie was five to seven reels of film. It was during that time that I was relief projector operator for the State Theater in Idabel across the street from the county court house and full time projector operator at the Rancho Drive-In Theatre east of Idabel, Oklahoma at the “Y”. The big Rancho Drive-In Theatre sign is still standing at the “Y”. It took two carbon arc lighted lamp projectors to keep a movie going. With a seven reel movie, the projectionist had to switch from one projector to the other seven times. The timing for these changes had to be precise or you would see numbers flash upon the screen and then a bright light illuminating on the screen. When one reel was close to running out of film, a lever leaning against the film would drop down in the reel housing and a bell would ring. This informed the projectionist to start the carbon light for the lamp of the projector not running. He would then stand by it and wait for the first dots to flash in the upper right corner of the screen. At that time he would turn on that projector and then wait for the second dots to flash in the same area of the screen as a signal to open the shutter of the lamp of the projector with a full reel and simultaneously close the shutter of the lamp of the projector that had been running.
In the latter thirties, my mother and dad operated a country grocery store at Moon, which is north of Tom, Oklahoma. This was in the very southeast corner of the state. That store was previously owned by Papa and Mama Wilson (my grandparents: Charley and Pearl Wilson). When my grandparents owned the store it was truly a “Mom and Pop store.” It was during the time that my parents owned the store that on the weekends a family from Broken Bow would set-up a tent and they would show both “talkies” and “silent picture” shows. Often while showing a silent movie they would have a pianist play on a piano or play music on a record player.
The expression: Let’s get the show on the Road!” came into common usage in the 1960s to figuratively declare: “Let’s don’t waste any time to commence doing what we’ve set out to do.
Dub Mowery is a Gospel preacher in the Church of Christ. A native of Southeast Oklahoma, he is the author of Colloquial Sayings & Expressions (Morris Publishing, 2008)