Reflections

Shine’s Old Theater Would Seat 750 People

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week. By the time you read this hopefully we’ll be on our way to Portland, Oregon.  Jamie and Nicole got engaged last year in Scotland, and they’re getting married on Saturday, September 21.

This week I will profile some people that I may have featured some years back, but I’ve been questioned about some so I’ll include them again.

 Brandon Jones had been a manager for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company when the depression forced companies to close down offices and down scale.  

He farmed, drove a school bus  and generally did what most families did to feed and clothe their children.  He worked at several defense jobs during the war. After the war he leased a small, rundown store building on the corner of Court and North Main streets and opened a grocery store.

He offered credit to his customers, and when there was a strike at the Rice-Stix plant in the 50s, he did not cut his customers off. He continued to sell them groceries and they repaid him when they went back to work. His son, Jimmy, delivered groceries to homes on a bicycle.

When he decided to call it quits, Jimmy began to operate the business and eventually built a large modern supermarket.  The tornado of 1984, on Saturday before Easter, totally destroyed the building with several injuries including Lupe’s sister Virginia Scanlon.      Jimmy rebuilt and operated the store until bad health forced him to retire.  This is an example of a small town business that succeeded against adversity and prospered in the process.  

Another example is the Grand Theater.  Mr. Alf Walker owned the business before World War I and for several years into the 20s.  When he decided to sell, William Shine Tyson, who had married a local lady, Hazel McDermott, bought the business and operated it through the end of silent movies and into the days of sound.

The depression started and Shine remodeled and enlarged the building. He offered movies for a dime on Saturday only.  His auditorium, including the balcony, would seat 750. At a dime a ticket, he made money and grew during those hard times. He was also an artist and several of the early Watermelon Carnival floats were designed and built by him.  During World War II, after the death of his wife, he decided to sell. Bill Bostick from Memphis owned several small town theaters and bought the business. His nephew, Leon Roundtree, operated the theater for several years.  The building burned in the 50s and was never rebuilt.  

Like many others, it passed into history and lives only in the memories of those of us around in those days.  I appreciate your input so keep up the good work.  My email address is charlescooper3616@sbcglobal.net or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great week.

Leave a Comment