News: Spencer History - Movies


Surnames: Orgish, Schwocho, Straub

Source: Spencer Centennial Book (1874 – 1974)

The youth of today may find it hard to believe that Spencer had movies, but they were shown as early as 1914. Between 1914 and 1920 they were sponsored by businessmen and shown in the Woodman Hall. Of course, at first they were silent movies and you had to read your own dialogue.

In 1927 the American Legion purchased equipment and showed movies, sometimes "talkies," in the Old Lutheran Church on West Main Street. John Orgish and other Legionnaires operated the equipment and it became a very profitable enterprise. John and a partner took care of it for four years before turning it back to the Legion, and Herbert Schwocho was then hired to manage the theater. He showed movies there until 1934 when the Village Hall was built. Now having bought the equipment Schwocho moved it into the new hall.

In an October 10, 1946 Spencer Record article Herb Schwocho recalled that "Spencer Talkies" have never missed a Saturday night since it started 12 years ago. At times it required a trip to Milwaukee and back again to get the film when someone slipped up on the date or if there was an error in the booking.

Herbert Schwocho sold the equipment to W. J. (Toby) Straub in 1940 and he, too, had to learn the meaning of the term "The show must go on." Toby continued in the movie business until 1952 when he terminated it. Orval Matter operated the projector the entire period from 1934 to 1952.

"Toby" had a regular circuit for showing movies as he went Sunday to Edgar, Monday to Dorchester, Tuesday to Unity, Wednesday to Marathon City, Thursday to Greenwood, Friday he had off, and Saturday at Spencer. When the business places in Spencer changed their night open from Saturday to Friday, the movies were also changed to Friday night.



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