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plendid
plendid commented about MacArthur Theater on Jul 3, 2010 at 6:58 pm

I worked at the MacArthur, only a few blocks from my house, during some of the second half of the 1970’s. The managers when i started were Mr. Chang and Chip Greenwood, a local writer. Bud was the projectionist most of the time, a wry old fellow. Sally Bowman, already in her sixties and a long time KB employee was the ticket cashier on Mondays. Herman Owens, who i think was born around 1900, was the doorman. He always had in his possession a beefy tome about American mid century politics. Two of my sisters and my brother also worked there for short periods.

As 1980 approached i liked the new managers less and worked elsewhere. A chap named Tim would send the employees home early, on a whim, even if the work schedule had been agreed before hand.

For the first few years popcorn was dispensed from a vending machine. It was surprisingly good popcorn, but people didn’t like buying popcorn from a machine so it was in stead sold via a less efficient stand, where the popcorn staled faster.

My favorite aspect of the theater was the sound. it was actually quite good, so good in fact that a whisper on stage could be understood from the back of the theater.

Attendance at the MacArthur was almost always disappointing. Common was it to show a film to fewer than a dozen people, in a theater seating 910. One night we were showing some obscure British film about fox hunting. The manager and projectionist really didn’t want to be there. They told me, that night a cashier, to tell people that the projector was broken. Wouldn’t you know it the the one couple who did come had driven in all the way from Roanoke to see this film. To this day i feel badly for lying to them.