Guest column: Making movies for faith and family

When I read the article in The Times about Johnny Durango and his film debut in the area, I knew I wanted to see it at the Roxy in Ottawa. I called my friend, Cookie and asked her to go with me.

The story of Johnny’s dream to make movies reminded me of my son, Dan, who had similar dreams when he was in college. Dan’s dream, like Johnny’s was to make Christian movies. He graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale with a degree in film. He presently works for several television stations in Springfield, Missouri.

“Unsung Hero” is the true story of David Smallbone who leaves Australia with his wife and seven children to come to America and becomes one of the most successful music groups for King and Country. It’s a story about a family that sticks together through many difficulties, and finally finds success as a band, while growing closer and closer as a family.

When I read that it was a film about faith and family, I knew I wanted to see it.

When Daniel comes to visit me, we enjoy walking the streets of downtown Ottawa, just to reminisce and see what has changed. A month or so ago when Dan was here, we stopped by the Roxy Theatre and met the new manager, Rebecca Rasmussen

There was no film going on, so we stayed to chat. Dan asked if we could go through the old theater and view the changes that had been made over the years.

Rebecca seemed eager to show us around and took us upstairs to the older part of the theater. Taking my hand, she led us up the stairs where we could see how the theater used to look, and the old parts they used then.

I looked down from where we stood and viewed what I think was the original stage. I recall amateur nights where local people could perform and I remembered playing my piano recital piece on that stage, back in the day.

I also remembered “bank nights” where they gave away cash prizes with winning numbers from ticket stubs. My mother won once!

Many people went downtown on Saturday nights because the stores and restaurants were open for shopping and dining. Families often later wound up at one the theaters.

There were three theatres then – the Roxy, the Orpheum (which later burned) and the Illinois, which was where the “kids” went on Saturday afternoons to see Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry or Roy Rogers. My favorite was Dagwood and Blondie!

I recall that Roy Rogers always kissed his horse at the end of the films. After he and Dale Evans got married, he finally kissed her.

And that’s the way it was at the movies – back in the day!

Carole Ledbetter is a former, long-time Write Team member who resides in Ottawa.

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