My mother, Ruby Mayo Scott, grew up in the theatre; I wish I could report
that she was a well known celebrity but she was never an actress. There was
only one movie house in her hometown of Dawson and her daddy, David Mayo was
the manager, and she and her family all worked there.
Besides managing the business, he was also the certified projectionist. He
was not only responsible for showing the films, he was also charged with
keeping the projection machines in service. During those days a fire was a
serious threat; therefore pails of soda were stored in the balcony just in
case there was a flash fire. Celluloid film was highly flammable and the
old projector machines generated vast amounts of heat so the projection
booth was considered a dangerous place to work.
My maternal grandmother, Leeila managed the ticket booth and maintained the
financial records. It was rumored that she could accurately count mounded
coins just by feeling the stacks. She recalled spending countless hours
sorting and stacking loose change.
Momma worked at the candy counter and prepared the popcorn, and her sister
Jeanette collected tickets and ushered. When the girls sold all the
refreshments and the patrons were settled in their seats, they were allowed
to watch the movie. The big movie day was
Saturday because there was an afternoon matinee and then a special
evening feature; Saturday was
usually reserved for western movies which was an audience favorite.
The movie house was equipped with an ancient pipe organ. The instrument was
rarely used after the late 1930s but it remained in a prominent position
down front, just to the right of the screen. The lady who provided the
music for the silent movies continued to come by frequently to play the
instrument and keep it operational.
In 1939 the family learned that a special film was coming to the movie
house; it was advertised as the film of the century. The smaller rush
posters arrived weeks ahead of the movie and were displayed in the front
lobby. The patrons were abuzz about the controversial film; it featured
several love scenes and was touted as the first all-color film. The Wizard
of Oz had opened a few months earlier but as we well remember, that
presentation was part black and white and part color.
The giant posters that arrived a week prior to the movie were considered