The Vaiden Theater
NOTE: If you have any stories, pictures or ANY INFORMATION about the Vaiden Theater, please CONTACT ME. I would love to add your information to this page.
Also note that the information on this page is as I remember it from 1954 forward.
It is not currently known what year the Vaiden Theater opened, but (so far) newspaper advertisements have been found as far back as April 12, 1929. After a run of 30+ years, it finally closed in the late 1950s or the early 1960s. It is also not yet known what company owned the theater or how many people managed it, but John K. Ross and his wife, Evelyn Jones Ross were known to have owned and operated it for many of those years. Of the years it was open, John H. “Shonk” Coker worked there in various positions and Robert Welch ran the projector. Admission prices varied from a dime to a quarter. Upon its closing, the building was bought by Inez Rosamond and was used as Rosamond’s Beauty Shop. Inez sold the Beauty Shop to Ruth Ann Lowery, who kept it opened as Lowery’s Beauty Shop until the beauty shop closed due to the structural integrity of the building. After “Front Street” was razed, Ruth Ann Lowery built another Beauty Shop where Crook’s Grocery had once stood.
Evelyn Ross John H. “Shonk” Coker
As this is an ongoing history of the Vaiden Theater, more movie advertisements will hopefully be discovered. The three found so far are listed below:
More information on the three films listed above can be found, as follows:
Riley the Cop – released 11/25/1928
Wild Bill Hickok – released 11/18/1923
The Red Mark – released 08/26/1928
Note that Riley the Cop is a silent film.
In front of the Theater, were wooden benches. They were attached to the awning poles to keep the benches from falling over. There were also outhouses (outdoor toilets) close to the rear of the Theater. They sat directly behind Cearley’s Grocery. I don’t remember if they were only for Whites or only for Colored (or one for each), or if they were one for the men and one for the women. The Theater was on Vaiden’s “Front Street” and its entrance faced east and was located between Holmes Drugs on its south side and Fullilove’s Grocery on its north side. Highway 51 ran north and south in front of the Theater and the rest of “Front Street.” In its early years, the Vaiden Depot sat across Highway 51 across from the Theater and the Illinois Central Railroad ran along the eastern side of the Depot.
In a Facebook chat about the Vaiden Theater on 09/26/2017, the following statements were discussed:
I (Ron Collins) told the Facebook chat group of Vaiden Memories of the Past “I remember [around 1957, 1958 or 1959] my Dad taking me to town one Saturday afternoon to meet someone that was at the Vaiden Theater.” I thought the Theater was close to Holmes Drug Store, but wanted to make sure because I remember sitting on the benches on the sidewalk in front of it.
Pat Riley said, “The theatre had its own entrance. I think somewhere between the drug store and Fullilove’s.”
Edward Lee Briscoe said “Miss Ross ( the 4th grade teacher ) owned & operated it for as long as I can remember. It had wooden benches to sit on. The roof also leaked. No that is an under statement. The water ran in. About a third of the theater always had water in it. The store had a downward slope so the people could see over the peoples head[s] that sat behind them. How deep was the water? Deep enough to float the benches. O well what do you expect for a quarter? The last movie that I saw there was the John Wayne movie The Searchers.” Emphasis and Punctuation added.
Ora Welch – wife of Robert Welch – said, “Robert says it was between Jimmy Fullilove's grocery and Mr Holmes drugstore. Ken and Evelyn Ross ran the theater for a movie company. Robert ran the projector part time for them. He can't remember any of the movie names.”
Alice PS (Shands) said, “I remember wearing a Hopalong Cassidy cowgirl outfit to a Hopalong Cassidy movie there. Had to have been early 50's.”
Mark Shands said, “Jayne Lowery once told me (back in '65) there were movie seats back in the back part of the beauty shop... near Mr. McCorkle’s .... I can remember seeing it I believe...”
The same day, I asked Libby Lowery Beach in a Facebook message about the Theater. Libby Lowery Beach said “Inez Rosemond opened it. Mom worked there then bought it. Hen when town was tearing it down she built the little building where Crooks Grocery was. The theater had a round window in the door” . . . “Mom let me go watch westerns by myself so I was probably about 7.” On the Vaiden Memories of the Past Facebook page on 09/28/2017, when asked why her Mom’s shop in the Theater building closed, Libby said, “Mom's shop was said to unsafe due to old bricks and mortar. I think as each store closed, more and more became unsafe.”
More information As It Becomes Available
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