January 2, 2004
Today we continue with some of the recollections of Roy Kendrick, now a Perry antique store operator, who once was manager of the city's movie theaters. Here he is telling about how he happened to come to Perry in 1967 after leaving a job in Oklahoma City where he worked with Katherine Pierce, sister of B.J. McKenna, who for a time owned the Perry and Roxy Theaters in Perry. Roy writes:
Katherine had suggested that I should lease the theaters at Perry (I didn't even know where the town was at first), and the McKenna family kept after me to meet with B.J. to at least look the town over. B.J.'s brother, Harry, was co-owner of Screen Guild Pictures (an independent movie releasing company that was the Oklahoma representative for American-International Pictures, plus Reel-art and several small movie companies) and his office was just a couple of buildings away. He and his son came in to our office frequently to visit Katie (Katherine) and to sell me their latest hit movie for my small theater circuit. Also, Jim and Bernard McKenna (B.J.'s other sons) would come in from Tulsa frequently to buy product for their theaters and also to stop in for coffee and conversation with Katie.
They all seemed to think that I really ought to look at Perry as a possibility of expansion. Then a projectionist from Perry came in looking for a part to repair a machine and commented that there were problems with some of the equipment and could I maybe come up and look at it? (I had a pretty good reputation as a troubleshooter.) So the next time they had a fairly large concessions order, I volunteered to deliver it and to look the place over. As I drove down the hill to this little valley I was saying to myself that it looked like a nice little town to raise my kids (we had two small sons.) I found the theater, delivered the supplies and went up to the projectionist booth. The projectors were old and rather noisy and one had a bad case of "travel ghost" (shutters between the light source were out of time with the movement of the film so that there were streaks of light on the screen) and the carbons in the arc light wouldn't feed properly. I reversed the gears in the lamphouse to slow down the carbon feed (it was set for different carbon rods than the one they were using), and I showed the projectionist how to get the shutters back in time. When I left, there was a "decent picture" on the screen.
A few weeks later we met with B.J. McKenna and worked out a deal for my wife and I to lease the theaters (eventually we bought the equipment). The building properties were not for sale. We closed the drive-in after some kids broke in and smashed all the concessions equipment, and the Exchange Bank tore down the Perry Theater building to expand their property. I now operate an antique mall in the former Donaldson & Yahn Lumber Yard (which I purchased from Glenn Yahn and the Bob Donaldson family.) I didn't intend to bore you with all this detail but just couldn't find a stopping place.
Far as I'm concerned, Roy didn't need to leave out any of the details. This is a most interesting account by someone who deals daily with antiques and recollections. By the way, the original message was sent to Jo Claire Hamilton, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Al Singletary, who are fondly remembered here.