odney Burk Letter to the Forest-Area Historical Society.
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June 14, 2000
To the Forest-Area Historical Society,
The past 90 years have brought many changes to the motion picture? theaters? from the days of the "black & white silent movies" through the days of the drive-ins to the "Vitaphone talking pictures" and? then Technicolor. For more than 70 years Forest had a movie theater. An early one was named "The Star" and was located on the north side of Lima street next to a billiard hall and barber shop. Two of my brothers operated the movie projectors over a period of time. Although I was taught by my church peers that movies were "evil", I was permitted on occasions to attend a movie at The Star and watch my brother, Morris Burk, in action as he changed reels, tended to the arc lamp and showed colored glass slides advertising local merchants.
There were two main entrances to the theater from Lima street. Between them was the ticket booth where patrons would pay admission. Over this booth was the metal projection booth. A ladder, permanently attached to the wall, furnished the means for getting into the second floor booth.
In the booth was the projector with its exposed reels and drive mechanisms, equipment for the showing of advertising slides between each reel, and a work bench used for splicing and patching films during the rewind operation. The booth, about 10 feet square, was very hot in the summer due to the arc light which operated something like an arc welder. The arc was controlled by levers protruding thru the "lamp house" door. Tips of the carbon rods were fed toward each other to adjust the length and brightness of the arc.
In the south wall of the booth, a small electric fan and a small outside window gave some relief from the heat. Two small openings were in the north wall of the booth. One to permit the projector to shine on the screen and one to monitor the screen.
Movie films were wound on special reels and were delivered to the theater during the night by truck.
When operating, the film was fed from the top reel of the projector down thru the drive sprockets and into the "take-up" reel. When the top reel was empty, it was replaced with a new reel and the process repeated. During the intermission, when the reels were changed, advertising was shown on the screen used colorful glass slides. "The Star" was painted on the wood facade at the front of the building. You could easily locate the theater because at the front entrance large colored posters were displayed advertising coming attractions.
To further attract customers, there was a horizontal string of flashing lights at the lower edge of the facade. The main aisle ran north from the entrance to the screen on the north wall. There was also a coal stove and a piano in that end. Mrs. Tom (Trixie) Thrush played the piano in time and in tune with the tempo of the film being shown. My favorite movies were comedies. I recall seeing Harold Lloyd in "Safety Last". Charlie Chaplin was another popular comedian. And how about the "Our Gang" comedies? There were also many "Western" movies and the exciting serials.
Over a period of years, several persons owned and operated The Star ending with Leo T. Jones of Upper Sandusky who built a modern theater in the building formerly used by Mick & Cline grocery. It was known as the New Star theater. It was equipped with the latest in equipment. The dual projectors provided one continuous showing of a movie. Morris Burk also operated the New Star. To keep up interest, such things as "Bank Night" were held weekly with cash prizes given. It finally became an unprofitable venture and was closed.
Rodney H. Burk