Letters to the editor
Dear Editor: Once a week, The News carries a history article on what happened 50 years ago. Sometimes it contains movies that played during that time. Very few people in Newton County are still alive and can relate to this time. The movie theaters were the main source of entertainment in 1953 and 1954. At about this time, Henson Furniture Company and Covington furniture began to sell small screen black-and-white TVs and put them in their windows and turn them on at night. There were no day-time programs. People would bring their chairs and line the sidewalks in front of their show windows to see a TV. This started the demise of the movies in Newton County.
In 1952, I would leave Newton County High School on Newton Drive at 3 p.m. and walk to the Strand Theater. The Strand was located on the east square where Mr. Ed Crudup has his law office. My job at the movie was to operate the projectors. The light from the two projectors was generated from two welding rods that were placed in a position to form an electric arc. The projection room was very hot. I started the movie for the 3:30 p.m. matinée. I ran the projectors until about 10 p.m. at which time I caught the last bus to Porterdale (my home). Mr. Zig Callaway operated a bus service from Covington to Porterdale. The bus was on a 30-minute schedule and the fare was 10 cents. Mr. James Haralson drove the bus. Mr. Callaway also owned a beach front boarding house in Daytona Beach, Fla. My father Mr. Homer D. Long, drove (part time) one of Mr. Callaway’s buses to Daytona in the spring. A graduating high school student could spend a week at the boarding house for $20. The bus would pick you up at your school. I believe Ms. Shirley Graham, who graduated with me, handled the arrangements for Mr. Callaway.
There were four movies in Newton County in 1952 — the Strand, the Porterdale movie, the Hub Drive-In and a black movie theater located upstairs at the corner of Washington and Hendrick streets. All of these movies were owned by Ms. Brownie Osburn. Ms. Osburn sold tickets at the ticket window at the Strand. Mr. Stewart Murray ran the inside of the move and sometimes “too up” tickets along with Mr. Foy Harper. Stewart’s sister Ms. Martha Kate Tate, along with Ms. Mary Frances King, operated the concession stand. They wore white uniforms. Martha Kate was married to Mr. Roy Tate who ran Bill’s truck stop that was located where the KFC restaurant is now. I ran the projectors and Stewart would relieve me for breaks. Stewart was an accomplished airline pilot and very popular around Covington. He wore a brown leather flight jacket with a white scarf. He also drove a sporty 1951 black Plymouth and would only run U.S. royal master tires.
Harry L. Long