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For the week of April 25 through May 1, 2001

Memories of you...

Express staff writer

It was an old building with charmó an icon from the town Ketchum used to be. What we called, until several days ago, the Odd Fellows Hall, or the old Magic Lantern, was torn down to make way for dubious progress. More desperately needed office buildings, no doubt. Once upon a time music was presented there, including a performance of Paul Revere and the Raiders, and an old famous garage band called the Sonics.

In 1974 the building was turned into a movie theater and named The Magic Lantern. Owned by Rick Kessler, it was the only place to see movies in Ketchum. The only way to get in was to belong to the Kesslerís Film Society. It was like one continuous party, said Steve Bynum, current manager of the new Magic Lantern.

In 1984 Bynum moved to town with his soon-to-be wife Heidi, who had been coming to town to visit her father, the late Ed Scott.

After five months of unemployment he was hired by manager Cindy Hamlin to be the projectionist. Four years later he became manger. A career was made.

Bynum not only sold tickets but simultaneously ran the projector. Fortunately, it was a small area he had to zip back and forth to while pulling his nightly double duty.

"It was a funky old place," he said. "Couldnít reconstruct it, the doors were super narrow. We eventually put in a ramp but for years we carried wheelchairs up."

Clint Eastwood always stuck his head in the projection room and asked Bynum to turn the "volume up one D.B., which was a system we didnít use but I tried to accommodate him."

People had their first dates and first kisses at the theater, and came to their first R rated movies there. It was safe and it was convenient. And it reeked of small town America.

During the days of midnight movies, fools would often just pass out, especially on the long front row bench. "I donít know if they drank too much or if they were just tired. I had to practically carry people out. Iíve had people there in labor ó killing time."

The Rebeccas (the female auxiliary of the Odd Fellows) met upstairs on Tuesday nights for square dancing, Bynum remembers. It was a notoriously bad night to come to the movies.

"Over the years I feel like I developed relationships, seeing kids grow up. I really love that aspect of the job and I loved the old theater. I spent every Christmas there for the last 15 years. To me nothing could be more normal. Iíd bring the family in." In fact, his children took naps on the floor in the old projection room and he and his wife Ö but Bynum didnít finish the sentence as he uncharacteristically became lost for words.

The old Magic Lantern closed its doors in 1998, and the movie theater moved across the street to its newer less quaint digs. The last movies Kessler and Bynum showed in the old place were Cinema Paridiso, an all time great movie about a theater being demolished, and the Marx Brotherís classic Duck Soup. And, fittingly, they showed The Last Picture Show.


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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.