Photo: Alan Graham 1958


The Picture Show was one of the favorite places in the camp. Always a newly released film, complete with Movietone News and a cartoon, there was usually standing room only. The cost, I believe, was a quarter, and I can't remember if there was popcorn available. The theater was a blacked out Butler Building. After I had been at the camp awhile, I was sent down to Ft. Bliss to get an operator's permit for a 16 MM projector. Projectionist School lasted half a day. There were records to be kept of how many times the movie was shown and how many people attended each showing. So many things would go wrong with the projector. The film would lose its loop, causing the dreaded 'meltdown'. The audio would get out of sync with the video, delaying the spoken words until after the actors' lips quit moving. The worst case was for one of the reels to come off the projector while it was running, spilling about a quarter of a mile of film onto the dirty floor. I hated meltdowns because everyone would start yelling and booing, which made me nervous and delayed the splicing of the film even more. When I began projecting film at the theater, we had only one projector. At the end of each reel I had to turn up the lights and change reels, which did not create a really good movie theater atmosphere. One benefit though, as projectionist I got in free.