Memories of you...
By DANA DUGAN
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.