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Making Films for Faith and Family – Shaw Local

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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 come 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 films. He graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale with a degree in film. He currently works for several television stations in Springfield, Missouri.

“Unsung Hero” is the true story of David Smallbone who left Australia with his wife and seven children to come to America and became one of the most successful music groups for King and Country. It is a story about a family that sticks together despite many difficulties and ultimately finds success as a band as they grow 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 visits me, we like to walk the streets of downtown Ottawa, just to reminisce and see what has changed. When Dan was here about a month ago, we stopped by the Roxy Theater and met the new manager, Rebecca Rasmussen

There was no movie going on, so we stayed to chat for a while. Dan asked if we could tour the old theater and see the changes that had been made over the years.

Rebecca seemed happy to show us around and took us upstairs to the older part of the theater. She took my hand and led us up the stairs, where we could see what the theater used to look like, and what old parts they used back then.

I looked down from where we were standing and examined what I thought was the original stage. I remember amateur nights where local people could perform and I remembered I used to play my piano recital on that stage.

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

Many people headed downtown on Saturday evenings as the stores and restaurants were open for shopping and dining. Families often ended up in one of the theaters later.

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

I remember Roy Rogers always kissing his horse at the end of the movies. After he and Dale Evans got married, he finally kissed her.

And that’s how it was in the cinema – back in the day!

Carole Ledbetter is a former long-time Write Team member living in Ottawa.