was loading film on a microfilm machine and as the reel turned, the click, "clickity" sound
transported me back in time to the old Marian Theatre in Auburn, when Gene Autry and
Hopalong Cassidy rode across the big screen. I decided to let my mind go back to the
Auburn of the 1950s and make itself at home.
Saturdays there would be no lack of entertainment in Auburn. This was a time of
hustle and bustle, with all the town people and the country folks congregating
and mingling. Farmers quit work at noon on Saturday
and came to town with their families for shopping, to visit friends and to
attend the weekly drawing on the square. Along the crowded sidewalks,
neighboring farmers stood in front of stores talking crops, weather and
prospective market prices. My father and Mr. Jewell Hightower looked real
comfortable while solving the problems of the world sitting on the Honey Crust
bread box in front of Webb’s Grocery.
other gatherings the women folk chatted about housework, gardens, church, births and
deaths and the upbringing of their children. Some of the ladies would park their car
beside the Service Station on the square and watch the doings of the town in
comfort with a ringside seat. Teenagers were
talking about boyfriends and girlfriends while eating chocolate sundaes at the
Auburn Drug Store.
Webbs Grocery another kind of activity went on. Customers waiting their turn to be
waited on stood around in twos and threes and found things to talk about.
Being waited on was a process that could neither be hurried nor shortened.
and cheese was sliced, weighed, wrapped in paper and tied twice around with string. Canned
goods and other merchandize were taken from the shelves behind the counter. When
everything was finally placed on the counter Martine or Claude Burr got the pad, put the
carbon between the white and yellow sheets and then entered the name of the customer, the
date, name and price of each item. If the family had brought in eggs, butter or other farm
produce, these had to be counted, weighed or measured and their trade price summed and
subtracted from that of the order. This all done, Martine would step upon the box she used
in order to be able to reach the cash register and take your money.
the order were a sizable one, as it usually was, Claude Burr would go to the back of the
store and return with a crate or large box into which he would box the items. There was
just one more step in the process; a small bag would be shook open and carried to the
candy case for the small children of the customer to choose their favorites.
up the street at Forgys Dry Goods Store there was a hive of activity. Yard
goods had to be got from the high shelves, the bolt unrolled, the yardage measured and cut
off, then folded and wrapped and tied. There were no plastic bags then. Young children
trying on shoes were finding their shoe size had gotten larger since the last pair.
Parents were finding the prices going up with the shoe size. Some folks were there
shopping for gifts for others and some for themselves. There always seemed to be a sense
of camaraderie in that store between the clerks and their customers.
have mentioned only two stores here, not because the other stores in Auburn at that time
were less important, but because I was most familiar with these two.
entertainment on the streets of Auburn on Saturday was surely enhanced by the movie
theatre. There was a matinee and many people would go to both the matinee and back again
to the evening show. Parents often would visit inside the stores or in the warm weather on
the street until the movie was over about 8:15 p.m. and collect their children.
few months ago I began researching old newspapers and discovered that there were a number
of theatres in Auburns past, long before the Marian.
found that in 1893 according to the Auburn Advocate newspaper, the Davidson Opera House
was the place to go for the best plays. On Friday night, May 17, 1893 the high-class drama
entitled Bound by an Oath was performed there by the Auburn Dramatic Company.
The Auburn Orchestra furnished the music. Price of admission was, reserved seats 35c,
general admission 25c and children 15c.
Davidson Opera House was in operation for some time and to the best of my knowledge was
located upstairs over where the ReMax Realty Company is now located.
1918 The Victoria Theatre was located where Cox Variety Store is at the present time. On
Friday, September 28, 1917 the Auburn Standard newspaper announced the showing of the
silent film Babette, staring Alice Joyace and Mark McDermott. The ticket price
was 5c and 15c.
was not until 1926 that experiment in sound effects and music was attempted. In 1927
spoken dialogue was successfully introduced. A year later (1928) the first talking picture
was shown. So, the movies at the Victoria were sub-titled; a printed statement or fragment
of dialogue appearing on the screen between the scenes, or appearing as a translation at
the bottom of the screen during the scenes.
the 1930s I found only plays being performed at the Auburn High School auditorium and
according to the newspapers some very good plays, well attended. There is no mention in
newspapers of there being a movie theatre in Auburn at that time.
January 10th 1940, The Auburn Times announces a new business in Auburn; a movie
theatre opening in the Crewdson block in the building formally occupied by Gordons
Grocery. A Mr. Sparks was the owner and the name of the theatre was to be The
July 19, 1940, The Auburn Times announces the sale of The Starlight Theatre to Mr. Erwin
W. Rau of Litchfield, Ky. Mr. Rau renamed the theatre The Marian. Mr. Roy
Shoffner was the local manager. Admission price was 10c, 15c during the day and 22c after
6 p.m. The first movie shown at the Marian Theatre was Little Accident,
starring George Raft and Joan Bennett. Mr. Rau completely remodeled the interior of the
theatre in September of 1940.
1940 until 1948 there were a number of different people who operated the Marian Theatre,
mostly as managers.
June of 1948, Mr. and Mrs. Murray Forgy bought the theatre property, subject to a rental
agreement existing on the theatre to Mr. Andy Anderson, who was the owner of the theatre
equipment at the time. Mr. Forgy later bought the equipment (1955) and operated the
theatre until selling all of his property in Auburn and moving to Florida in 1962.
were quite a few different people that ran the projector for Mr. Forgy during those years,
including my brother-in-law. Betty Forgy, my good friend sold tickets and my cousin Glenn
Sams operated the popcorn machine in the lobby. We were all young, and like all young
people before us in Auburn and the world over, thought we were invincible and that things
as they were would continue.
often do we experience something in life for the last time? To youth, time passes slowly
and we rarely know until we look back and see that a chapter in our life has ended and a
new one began without warning, thats moving very fast. If only someone would tap us
on the shoulder and say, Watch everything closely. Save all of this. It wont
NOTE: See the above picture: The Marian Theatre was located between
Arnett's and the Dollar Store on the Square.