Redskin Theater

822 SW 29th Street,
Oklahoma City, OK 73109

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Redskin TheaterĀ© Oklahoma City OK / Don Lewis

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The 1941 Redskin Theater was truly a cinema treasure. It had a large and magnificent red, trimmed in blue and white vertical sign spelling out “Redskin”. The sign was topped by three Indians. One chief, standing in full head dress with a raised tomahawk. Another chief, keeping look out on bent beside him and a warrior, also on look out and bent knee behind these two. I discovered and photographed the Redskin in the late-1980’s. Seating inside the auditorium was located in orchestra and balcony levels. The ceiling had a Navajo patterned stencil, and the side-walls had Indian inspired stencils.

Closed in 1994, it was razed in 2004.

Contributed by Don Lewis

Recent comments (view all 52 comments)

NorthPennTwin
NorthPennTwin on April 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm

RPT,

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.

hcombs
hcombs on April 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Hi RPT
This is Hal, the eldest of the Combs boys. We MUST have met as I too grew up in and around the Barton Theaters. Many fond memories of playing in the candy store room attached to the office and once, when I was 6, my dad, Harold, let me climb with him to the roof of the Redskin to fix the old swamp coolers that provided “Chilled Air”. The way to the roof was behind the screen on the back wall where there were iron bars placed into the brick wall to act as steps. It was a long way up for a 6 yr old.

I too remember that crazy go-cart. It was FAR TOO FAST for riding around the gravel drive out on the 160 acres on south Western. I’m glad it went to someone who could use it.
One memory from when I was young was a man with a wooden leg who worked the concession stand at either the Redskin or the Knob Hill. He would use an ice pick to brek up the big chunks in the ice machine then, if kids were watching, ram the ice pick into his leg through his trousers. It always caused a stir.

RPT
RPT on April 20, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Kim,

You may well remember me then… I am Patrick. I lived in the house next door, on the right side, to the west of your Grandparents. My mother and father rented the house from them. What a pleasant surprise it is to hear from you, and at the same time saddend to hear of your fathers passing. Words cannot express how much I thought of your father.

I tell you, I have thought of you guys perhaps thousands of times over the years. You are right, they were wonderful times and great memories. I have said many times that I cannot think of a better place to have grown up than working in and around Barton theaters. I now live in Houston, Texas, and have for the last 36 years. I continued to visit OKC a couple of times a year until about six years ago when we finally convinced my mother to move down here. She has since passed away as well, but I always made it a point to do as you and your brothers did. I made the rounds, viewing what remained of the old theaters, visiting the old haunts… and remembering.

You spoke of the Redskin Cafe. I wonder if you know the story behind it. For those who may be following this, the Redskin Cafe was in the strip shopping center attached to the Redskin Theater. It was not always the Redskin Cafe. It had previously been one of three Cattleman’s Cafes. They had the best biscuits on the planet and served them hot, fresh and with butter and honey when you sat down and never let the basket of biscuits get cold.

Ed and Bessie were the cooks and managers of this particular Cattleman’s. Bessie did the managing and Ed did the cooking. He baked biscuits from before sunrise till well after dark for many years. Now here’s the cool part…

R. Lewis’s wife, Mrs. Barton didn’t cook. At least not so’s you’d notice, heh haha. Which meant that R. Lewis ate at, you geussed it, Cattleman’s. Every Morning R. Lewis could be seen walking across the alley way, last evenings supper plate and silverware in hand, across the back parking lot and into the back door of Cattleman’s where Bessie would fix him a breakfast plate and a brown paper sack of Ed’s biscuits. R. Lewis would then make his way back to the house for breakfast. Every evening R. Lewis could be seen walking across the alley way, last mornings breakfast plate and silverware in hand, across the back parking lot and into the back door of Cattleman’s where Bessie would fix him a supper plate and a brown paper sack of Ed’s biscuits. R. Lewis would then make his way back to the house for supper.

You could set your clock by it, lol.

Then came the day that Cattleman’s decided to close the cafe, as well as the one down on 13th and Robinson, keeping only the one in “packing town” out on Agnew open. Ed and Bessie had no idea what they were going to do. The Cattleman’s cafe was all they had done for a couple of decades at least. And yes, R. Lewis was looking starvation in the face.

R. Lewis, reading the writting on the wall, loaned Ed and Bessie the money to buy Cattleman’s Cafe and they renamed it… The Redskin Cafe.

Every Morning R. Lewis could be seen…

R. Lewis was a nice man as well. He always smiled at me. Always.

Patrick Reynolds

RPT
RPT on April 20, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Bwahaha, I bet it did cause a stir, heh haha.

And sure we met. We used to play together. I have been in your dad and moms house on the south side of “Club Lake” many times. Heck, I even had supper out there a time or two. My dad, my brother and I almost lived on that lake we fished it so much. I am still a life long bass fisherman because of that lake.

I remember once you, Kim and I using roman candles to make “boats” from a block of 2X4 and launch them in the lake at the fort by the water down at your Uncle Bob’s house to the East of your home. And speaking of “carts”, do you guys remember the little red car at your Grandparents house in town? It was about six feet long, no more than a couple of feet wide, was box shaped and ran on a small lawnmower engine? We used to ride that thing around the house, up and down the driveway, through the courtyard behind the house and down the sidewalk to the alley.

Good grief, I never thought I would ever hear or see of you guys again… and here we are.

And Hal, I saw some time ago where you posted over on the Continental Theater page as “Harold”. I had inquired if perhaps it was you and left much the same message about what a nice guy you dad was there as well. I didn’t see your post until some time after you had made it so I didn’t know if you would ever see it, but hoped that at some point perhaps you would.

I would love to catch up with you guys and share our stories. I tell you, if I had known you guys were going to be in Oklahoma City, I might have made the trip from Houston just to meet again and reminisce.

It is so very good to hear from you all. I bet you all had a great time.

NorthPennTwin
NorthPennTwin on April 20, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Patrick,

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.

Kim

RPT
RPT on April 20, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Yes indeed Kim, heh haha.

I hadn’t thought about the dime trick in yes, nearly 50 years. It was a hillarious trick that us kids at the theaters got many a chuckle playing on the customers at boring times. Also, I would give $20 dollars for a basket of Ed’s biscuits, lol.

Speaking of supper, heh haha, I haven’t had any yet and it is getting late. One of you guys, or all of you, drop me a line at reynoldspt at prodigy dot net.

I look forward to becoming reaquainted… after all these years.

Patrick

hcombs
hcombs on April 20, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Pat: Wow, You remember the Roman Candle boats? Amazing the memories we share. I seem to recall we played marbles in the alley behind the Redskin Cafe and had a few innings of sandlot baseball in an empty lot nearby. We always called it “Ed & Bessies” Cafe and after I got married in 1971 My granddad set it up so my young wife and I could eat one meal a week free there. As you say they had the BEST biscuits ever. We always came in the back door through the kitchen and almost never by the front. I was allowed to operate the french fry cutter they kept on the wall back there when I was about 8. It was great fun to put a potato in the machine, pull the lever down hard and watch the potato slices come out the bottom. How I miss those days. One time we found a dead bird in the alley and you told me not to touch it because it had lice. That memory is one that has stuck with me.

RPT
RPT on April 20, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Yep, that was it, Ed and Bessies Redskin Cafe. I remember the bird as well, out near the trash bins.

Speaking of which, your Uncle Bob used to get 8mm previews of upcoming films so he could view them and decide which films to book. They were the same as the actual previews to be shown in the theaters. He used to just toss them in a box and when the box got full he would set out by the trash bins.

There was a rather well known personality around OKC who was a business aquaintance of my dads… and I suspect your Granfathers as well by the name of Jim Lookabaugh. Once the head coach of the athletics department of Oklahoma State University. If I remember correctly, the only guy to beat OU two consecutive times in football. Beating them one of those times on OU’s home field. Anyway, one day my father and I were at his home, in his garage, and there were two things there that caught my eyes. One was a box full of baseball gloves. The other was a very old 8mm projector that had no light bulb in it. I was probably no more than about 8 years old and while he and my dad talked I played with the ball gloves and then the old projector. When we got ready to leave Mr Lookabaugh did two things. First he handed me one of his old ball gloves and told me to go play ball. Second he asked if I would like to have the old projector. I did of course… and you see where this is going, right?

When I got home I checked the trash bins and low and behold there was a box of those movies trailers. I still needed a bulb however and as luck would have it a standard automobile bulb, such as goes in the backup lights on many cars still today fit it. We used to spend hours in the closet, where it was dark, watching those previews. As time went by and things get left behind by children I lost track of those things. I think my mother eventually sold the old projector in a garage sale. Probably got a quarter for it and I have no idea whatever became of all those movie trailers… but one has to wonder what a collection of 8mm previews of pretty much every movie that was made between say 1957 and 1966 would be worth today.

Good night fellas. It has been a great trip down memory lane and more than great hearing from you all. I will check back often. I think I like this site more everytime I visit it.

Patrick – reynoldspt at prodigy dot net

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on June 27, 2012 at 10:54 am

Here’s a 1942 trade article describing the recently opened Redskin Theatre: boxofficemagazine

rivest266
rivest266 on April 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm

August 6th, 1941 grand opening ad in photo section.

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