The 2008 demolition of Henryetta's old Blaine Theater brought back memories of the 1930s and 40s. The Morgan closed many years earlier and was already a memory. For those who wonder, the Blaine and Morgan were both named for Henryettans  Charles Blaine and Barclay Morgan.blaine 234
But there were many Henryetta theaters before those two.
Jack Gibson, public address announcer for every HHS 1937 -1993 home sporting event, arrived in Henryetta in 1910 as a ten-year-old, and wrote a 1999 note describing the others just a year before he died.
The first was the Ozo on the south side of Main between Fourth and Fifth.
The open air Airiel, with benches and a makeshift stage, was on South Fifth where the old City Hall was later located.
The open air Epic was near Fourth and Trudgeon.
The Morgan Building at Fourth and Main was built by Attorney and early prominent Henryettan, Barclay Morgan, at Fourth and Main in 1910 with an "Opera House" in its rear part.
A three story building on Main, it had just two floors at the theater part, but three stories at the alley to hold raised curtains and scenery.
operahouseMany celebrities of the day appeared there, including former President William Howard Taft in 1914, and Edwin Markham, the poet who wrote "The Man With the Hoe" our long ago English and dramatics teacher, Derwood Clay, had us read in the 40s.He was also the coach of the HHS state champion debate teams in 1947 and 1948, which were comprised of Harold Ginsberg and Sue Kaufman, that in 1947 ended the streak of 79 winning debates by the former state champion team from Oklahoma City Classen High School.
In 1914, Jack Gibson swept and took tickets for Charles Blaine at the Yale, where the Henryetta public library now stands, for 75 cents a week. Admission to the Yale was 5 cents and 10 cents for three reels of the Keystone Cops, Fatty Arbuckle, William S. Hart, Pearl White, and others. The Yale became the Concord and later burned.
The Morgan Building on the right first extended over just the nearest two sets of windows, with the entrance and stairs being at the part that juts out. (The white marker near the top still has "OPERA HOUSE".) By the time of this picture, it'd been extended over the part that was Green's Drug Store - later Hefner's. The part near the corner that became Oklahoma Tire and Supply Co. housed Whipps men's store, which later moved farther west.
Barclay Morgan built the Morgan Theater in the teens and it was run by Charles Blaine. It had films and live performances, including a 1923 talent show to raise funds to purchase the Doughboy statue. Blaine then built the Blaine at Third and Main in the 1920s. Dick Klein played the piano at both theaters in the days before sound movies and then became the manager of both. Both were sold in the 30s to Griffith Amusement Company, but Dick Klein remained as their manager.
While I was growing up in Henryetta in the 30s and 40s. each theater showed three movies a week Sunday-Monday-Tuesday, Wednesday-Thursday, and Friday-Saturday.morgan 110
The best were the first three days and the lowest rated were on Wednesday-Thursday. The Morgan showed western (cowboy) movies on Friday-Saturday and movies that usually weren't as highly rated as those at the Blaine the rest of the time.
In 1939 or 1940, the Blaine was updated with a new marquee, new lobby and new interior - see the picture at the right. A much publicized new feature was its "love" seats.
morgan 200The end seats of the middle section, alternating between right and left ends, were one and a half times the width of the rest. The real purpose was so seats were offset from those in front of them.
I guess they called them love seats because they had to call them something, and when it reopened they explained that they were places where couples could sit.
If I ever saw a couple sharing one, I forgot it long ago. The picture shows a line of women to enter a movie that had separate showings for men and women. They were probably embarrassed just to be seen in line. Do you suppose they wore masks?
The Blaine had three main floor sections with two aisles.
There was an opening in the right (street side) section, just over half way down, for access to an exit onto South Third Street. The area in front of the opening became the favorite section for high school kids, and when you went to the Blaine, you first looked to see if there were any vacant seats left there.
Sometimes there were. We talked, punched each other and pitched popcorn between rows, but still behaved enough to not disturb the rest of the audience. But since I sometimes participated in the activity, maybe I just didn't think we caused a disturbance.
Both theaters had balconies, and balcony supporting posts blocked views of a few Morgan downstairs seats. The Blaine balcony was over the foyer and lobby and didn't extend over the lower seating area. The Morgan ticket booth and lobby occupied a storefront space on Main, but its lobby extended clear to the alley, where the auditorium was parallel to the alley behind stores to the east of the Morgan.
When the IOOF building was demolished following a fire in the early 2000s, the Morgan's auditorium building became visible and was a surprise for some to see, since it had many years since the Morgan had closed.
The Morgan showed a serial short subject on Wednesday-Thursday and a different serial on Friday-Saturday. Serials usually had 15 weekly chapters, and were teasers to get people me back the next week.
At the end of each chapter, the hero was always in danger of being killed by falling off a cliff, getting run over by a train, being trampled by a wild horse or trapped in a burning building, etc.
At the beginning of the next chapter, they reran the last minute of the previous chapter, but something always differed slightly and the hero survived. I never saw all chapters of any serial.
During several World War II national war bond drives, the only way to see a special movie at the Blaine was to buy a U. S. war bond. For every one of the drives, all 619 seats were full. Many World War II movies were about the war and all ended with a camera shot of a U. S. flag blowing in the breeze or a large "" for victory.war bonds 200
Both always brought cheers from the audience. When Japanese officers were shown in movies, most people booed. The war was even a subject of cartoons. One cartoon had a song about Hitler that went "Oh, der furher's face, it is a big disgrace, sieg "heil, heil" right in der furher's face." In a cartoon about rationing, some fleas got on a dog and started singing, "Oh, there's food around the corner, food around the corner for me. There'll be no more meatless Tuesdays, no more meatless Tuesdays, no more meatless Tuesdays, for me." Maybe you had to see them to appreciate them.
main streetThe Friday afternoon following Thanksgiving in 1940, Mother let me go alone to see "Knute Rockne, All American." I doubt if more than 20 were present in the Blaine that afternoon. At a point in a big game Notre Dame was losing, George Gip (the "Gipper" played by young Ronald Reagan) began a long game winning touchdown run. I jumped out of my seat cheering for as loud as I could, looked around, and saw I was the only person doing that. So I immediately got back down very low in my seat so nobody could see the crazy little kid that was making the fuss.
In another story, I will describe my experiences as an usher at the Blaine and Morgan - and explain why they even needed ushers.

More about Henryetta's theaters HERE.