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Letter to the Editor: Thanks for memories of Russellville’s three theaters

Dear editor,

Excellent online article about the three movie houses in Russellville. My old friend Wilbur Underwood, whom I haven’t seen in nearly 70 years, has all the facts correct.

I left Russellville after high school (1950) and wound up in the Navy, during the Korean war. My final assignment was Hutchinson, Kansas, of all places, and since Wichita was close by, I fell in love with the city. When I was released from the military in September 1956, I immediately enrolled at Wichita State University. I received a master’s degree in police administration and served as a member of the Wichita Police Department for 23 years, retiring as deputy chief in 1980. I then became the executive director of the Wichita Crime Commission, a nonprofit citizen’s organization that works closely with law enforcement agencies. I served as the director for 30 years. I am currently fully retired and have been for the past nine years. Google explains it best.
Wilbur’s story brought back lots of very pleasant memories. Not only do I remember the three theaters, I worked at all of them. I worked the popcorn machine at the Lyric while a sophomore and came to know Lee Gault, manager, very well. I had a second job of delivering groceries for Thompson Brothers grocery store. When Johnny Thompson decided he was going to build The Home Theater, he asked me to work for him, and I did.

In the meantime, when it was announced the Roxy was going to be built, Lee Gault asked if I would work there. Noting how small the crowds were at the Home, it seemed like a good idea, so, I went to work there when it was finished.

I was really into the movie business during that period. I took a class at RHS, Motion Picture Projection, offered by Diversified Occupations. However, when May 1950 came along and my mother and I moved to Indiana, I left all that behind. It was a great experience for me. And too, I was raised by a widowed mother, who had few skills outside the home, so the income I earned at the theaters saved me. I worked with some great young folks and I saw all the movies for free and had all the popcorn I could eat. Hard to beat that deal.
Thanks again for a very interesting article. It’s wonderful to keep as much history alive as possible.


Bobby Stout