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In the 1980’s, I was a Union projectionist and had a full time job with another theater that belonged to General Cinema Corporation, a competing company. My good friend, Anthony (Tony) Holmes was the full time union projectionist at the Lynn. In his later years, Tony became very religious and no longer wanted to work his 12+ hour Sunday shift. I was the only projectionist in IATSE Local 154 at the time that had Sundays free and was willing to work on them. Nice bit of extra money for a couple of years. All 4 booths were identical, Century projectors with lens turrets, Xetron lamps, Cinemeccanica Towers for film transport rather than platters, all mono sound. We were a second run double feature house at the time. While I was there but not on a night I was working, the manager David Clements was shot and killed in a failed hold up attempt late one night.
Both the Auto Vue and also the Alpine Theater in downtown Colville are for sale as of today. $800.000 for both.
Both the Alpine and the Auto Vue drive in are for sale as of today. $800,000 for both: search.colvillerealestate.com/idx/details/listing/a527/42933/112-N-MAIN-ST-COLVILLE-Washington
Corning Glass Company was the major employer in the area. This drive in was just outside the City of Corning, NY.
I worked for SRO Theaters starting in 1981. SRO purchased the Viking and the Moonlite D.I.in the mid 1970’s from the original independent owner who did not believe in showing “R” rated films, either at the Viking or at the Moonlite. SRO did not have an issue with booking “R” films.
Before it became the Georgetown Ballroom, it was an auto body shop for expensive classic cars. I was in the area one day and saw that the doors were open so I went in and met the owner. The floor had been leveled and a garage door cut into the back wall. The projection booth was the owners office. Very few traces of orginal decor, building had been gutted for the shop.
Thomas Watters, Jr was The Business Agent for IATSE Local 154 Seattle Projectionists from 1968 - 1998 and his retirement. This was his first projectionist job in 1946, fresh out of the Navy. Tommy told me that the Mission was the first theater to close due to competition from television in the early 1950’s. First TV station in Seattle went on the air in November 1948.
While I belonged to IATSE Local 154, the Seattle projectionists union local, I was “loaned” to the much smaller Local 180 in Everett and worked a handful of shifts here. The Union contract at that time, had management working the matinee shifts at 1-2-3 with a Union projectionist evenings and weekends. 4-10 had a Union Projectionist for all shifts. I was brought in to run 4-10 for a few weekday shifts, subject to being called to the 1-2-3 complex on the opposite side of the mall parking lot in case of trouble at that theater. There was no trouble at 1-3 while on the few days I was at 4-10 so I never had to make the drive across the parking lot. This would have been in the late 1980’s. All mono sound at 4-10 but I believe that Cinema 1 only at the original triplex had Dolby Stereo by this time. Cinema 2 & 3 were mono. Century SAW projectors, Christie lamps and Christie AW3 platters, Rank Cinemation automation in all 10 booths, #’s 1-6 had the pegboard Mark 3 which was my favorite automation system. Cinemas 7-10 had Rank Mark 10. Theater was always clean and well manitained under GCC but they were a typical GCC build for the day. Very plain decor. It had those uncomfortable Griggs “Push Back” seats painted white.
Theater destroyed by fire 7/24/2023. Fire presumed to be arson.
I belonged to the Seattle IATSE Union Local 154 but worked this drive in for a weekend in 1992 as an emergency fill in Projectionist even it was in the Tacoma IA local’s jurisdiction. The regular projectionist was in the hospital and the Tacoma local didn’t have anyone to cover the job. That weekend would have been the last time I ever worked at a drive in.
It was nearly a 500 foot throw from the booth to the screen.
I worked there in the late 1970’s. By that time, the heat and AC were long gone. I was told that it’s use was discontinued in the early 1960’s. To prevent speaker theft, all speaker poles were retrofitted with ¼ inch mono phone jacks and each speaker had a ¼ inch plug on the end of it’s cord. When you bought a ticket, you were handed a speaker to plug in at whatever spot you parked in. The only exit open at the end of the show had employees stationed at it to retrive the speakers as cars left. If the driver said that at it was still on the pole, someone from the car would have to walk back to get it. We did still have some of the custom made speakers in use for sell out nights when we would run out of the newer ones. Eldon Pollock, the theater owner designed the combo heat/AC/Sound speakers himself and had them custom made locally.
When I worked there in the 1970’s, the second floor seating/viewing room was no longer open to the public. The owner of the property, Eldon Pollock, was an avid bridge player and the room was used one evening a week for the local duplicate bridge club. Most of the bridge players were well advanced in years and by the late 1970’s some of the films being shown were hard “R” product. The players were often displeased at the content.
The concession/projection building had a second floor added when the second screen was added. The second floor housed the booth for both screens and a small apartment. The original projection booth on the ground floor was turned into storage. Brenkert BX-80 projectors, RCA soundheads. It’s been some 45 years since I was last in that booth, can’t remember any more details. It was owned by Jim Bonholzer who also operated theaters in Eastern Washington state.
The former Business Agent for the Everett Projectionists Union local told me years ago that this theater closed due to poor business. He said that one of the reasons for poor business was it’s proximity to the City’s garbage dump and the resulting odors from the dump.
Jamey: I beg to differ, I live in this area. The Basin Drive In was at the intersection of what is now I-90 and State Highway 17. Nowhere near East Broadway. I posted a photo of it (from State Department of Transportation. There are also pictures of it at the I-90/SR17 in the Grant County Historical Society archives.
This theater was operated by Cineplex Odeon. As Davidfox mentioned above, the theater never did much business for the reasxons he cited. When this theater closed, I was employed as an IA projectionist at another Cineplex theater just a few blocks away in Seattle. The Newmark closed in an interesting fashion. The mall management and Cineplex had been in disputes for years regarding the lack of patronage for the entire mall. Starting on a Saturday afternoon, the theater was plagued with “Projector Problems” resaulting with the cancellation of all shows in one auditorium. By Sunday evening the “Projector Problems” had spread to affect all 5 auditoriums. In reality, Cineplex (without notice to mall management) had decided to break the lease and strip the theater of anything useful. There was a freight elevator from the third floor theater to a loading dock located in the alley behind the building so no mall staff or other tenants were aware of what was happening. On Monday morning, mall management found an empty shell of a theater, all projection and concession equipment gone. Only the seats remained.
It opened in the late 1990’s. Perhaps 97 or 98? As I recall, it was owned by two brothers with the last name of Silver.
Same model projectors and lamps that I had in a drive in built new for the 1968 season. Midway D.I. in Kent, WA. State of the art for the day.
I believe that the nearest theater is now a single screen located in Rugby which is a 1 hour drive away.
This is what a projection booth should look like.
A little more information on the 1982 shootings in the parking lot. The slain brothers and the shooter had been seeing a double feature at the theater. The shooting took place in the parking lot after the films. I can’t for the life of me recall what the two films were but both were “R” rated and of a violent nature. I was off duty that night. The same double bill was run for the jury at the trial at the request of the shooter’s attorney. That weekday morning screening was held at the John Danz theater in Bellevue, owned by SRO Theaters which also owned the Factoria. The Factoria was no stranger to violence, In 1996 a 20 year old assistant manager was shot and killed in a holdup at the theater. In 2021, another fatal parking lot shooting. The theater is in a generally upscale area, not in a bad part of town at all. T-Mobile headquarters is just a few yards away.
I wish to correct a statement regarding number of screens at opening. The Factoria had only 3 screens at opening. All three equipped with Dolby CP-50 audio processors, new Simplex 35mm projectors fitted with lens turrets that were mated to rebuilt older RCA soundheads. At opening, we did not have platters but rather Cinemeccanica Towers which held 13,000 feet of film on the reels but required rewind time at the end of the screening. Platters came in 1982 with the two additional screens. The new screens were equipped for 70mm and each had brand new Century JJ2 projectors with lens turrets, Dolby CP 200 audio processers, and Christie platters. I was the #2 (part time) Union projectionist from 1981 - 1983. The local Projectionist’s Union was IATSE Local 154 and existed from 1908-1998. In 1998, merged with IATSE Local 15, Seattle Stagehands Union.
My Dad’s U. S. Government job took the family to the Devils Lake area for a couple of years, 1969 - 71. My school bus went right by the drive in. Never went to film here, despite pestering my parents to go. I was 11 years old at the time.
This drive in was located just outside of the main gate to Larson Air Force Base which closed in 1966. Airmen on duty at the main gate would have had a view of the screen about 100 yards away. The theater would have been under final approach for B-52 bombers from the SAC base. It is an empty field (with many rattlesnakes!) at present. Foundation of the snack bar building is still there.
Some 6 months later, GCC opened the above mentioned 6-plex on the other side of the parking lot. I worked for GCC, Tom Moyer’s Luxury Theaters had better bookers, in my opinion. GCC rarely had the top grossing films.