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The Stroud Nickelodeon was known as the Cozy. It was built about 1920 and shortly thereafter my grandmother, Mrs. Dolly Barton, bought it. She quit her job as a school teacher in Stroud and my grandfather continued to be active in local education and politics.
Eventually they acquired and built many more theaters in Oklahoma and during WWII they relocated to Oklahoma City.
The Cozy was the first theater in the Barton Theater chain.
The Gem was operated by my Grandfather, Troy Combs. Built in the early 1920’s it no longer exists. There is now a vacant lot where it once stood.
My father, Harold Combs, born in 1926 and my mother, Joanna Barton was born the previous day. My father’s family operated the Gem theater in Davenport and my mother’s family operated the Cozy theater in Stroud. Both small town theater owners from neighboring towns, they shared runs into Oklahoma City for films and supplies so my parents were thrown together in their cribs as both sets of grandparents became colleagues and even competitors. My parents were married after WWII and my father eventually went to work for the Bartons.
The Gem didn’t last and Troy Combs went on to become the Davenport Postmaster, while the Barton theater chain expanded from Stroud to Oklahoma City and beyond.
Great to hear from you after, what, nearly 50 years. I didn’t know the story behind the Redskin Cafe but I do remember their biscuits and honey. When we were all back in Oklahoma last month we went out of our way to eat at Cattleman’s in Packing Town. You may have been the one to teach me the trick of putting a drop of Coke syrup on a dime, placing the coin under the glass of the candy counter. Then, when someone scoops up their change they always reach back for the dime they missed. As a 10 year old I remember the glee of seeing someone frustrated trying to pick up the dime from beneath the glass. I remember the little cups of orange sherbet with the wooden spoon tucked underneath that couldn’t have cost more than a dime and were a such a cool treat.
Well it looks like all of are on line tonight, except Mark, We’ll have to get him in the mix. Mike, Hal, thanks for a wonderful trip in Oklahoma and nostalgic a walk down memory lane.
This is Kim. Hal, Mike & Mark and I just got back from a week long road trip thru Oklahoma, reliving our old memories. I well remember that go cart. It was Wayyyy to hot for me, at only 11 I was crazy for speed but couldn’t handle it. Hal was 14 when we moved, and you are right. It was a traumatic move for us kids and for our folks, even more so. Our father passed away a year ago. And now we are spread all over the US but we met in Oklahoma City and shared our memories of the Redskin, eating at the Redskin cafe, playing out on the farm and we went from theater to theater, the ones that are left and shared our collective and somewhat flawed memories.
Thank you for the kind things you have said about our dad. We were truly blessed with a wonderful childhood.
My grandfather was Riley Lewis Barton of Barton Theaters. I grew up in the theaters in the late 1950s and early 1960s, until my family left Oklahoma in 1966. RPT wrote of riding in my grandfather’s 1962 Cadillac limousine. I remember going down to the dealership with my father when he purchased a fleet of Cadillacs including that limousine. Years later, When I was in high school, my grandfather gave me the old limousine and I drove it all through my senior year. It was a great car for dating.
My father was Harold Combs. He supplied all of the concessions for the Barton Theaters from their warehouse behind the Redskin.
I remember, as a child, climbing on boxes of M&Ms stacked to the ceiling and jumping onto burlap bags filled with popping corn. The metal, 5-gallon cans of popcorn oil made great seats. My mother was Joanna Combs. She was the Barton’s only daughter and she was bookkeeper for the family business.
All of our Uncles worked for Barton Theaters as a family business. Uncle Bob Barton handled booking films and placing adds. Uncle Jerry Barton was the Attorney and eventually took Barton theaters into many other business endeavors.
As a kid growing up, all of Barton’s theaters served as the best babysitters you could Imagine. My mother grew up as a child in the first Barton theater, the Cozy Theater In Stroud, OK back in the late 1920’s. My father,s parents ran the only theater in Davenport, OK at the time and that is how they met. A pair of neighboring small town theater owners eventually saw their kids marry. My dad’s family got out of the theater business during the depression but my mom’s folks, the Bartons, propsered.