Charles Theatre

Eldon Ethington was the projectionist (along with many other jobs he did at the theater) at both the downtown Charles Theater from 1956 until the 21st Century and the two drive-in theaters when they were in business. He began part-time at the old Gem Theater next to the Beauty Dam and the Main Street Bridge in Charles City in 1956 for the special showing of The Ten Commandments. They had the special showing so that they could continue to run other new movies in their normal sequence at the Charles Theater. I remember attending The Ten Commandments. The Gem was old, kind of rundown, and there were worries of mice and rats. We would sit with our feet in our chairs. It was soon torn down. Although I didn’t get in free very often, I could always run up to the projection booth and watch some of the movie with Eldon and watch him do his job. I even lost out on choice seats with friends because I would head upstairs at the Charles. Even when I was older and was at the Drive-In with friends, I always stopped in to say “hi”. He was "Eldon" to several generations of Charles City moviegoers. He seldom knew or remembered their names, but several generations of Charles City residents remember the slightly built man at the theater with the bow tie."

Special Thanks to

Photos taken by Eldon of inside a Peerless Carbon Arc Lamphouse

The Super Simplex 35mm Projector he used for so many years.