There was a time in the history of East Perry County when you did not have to travel to Perryville or Cape Girardeau to watch a movie. For a relatively short period of time there was a movie theater in Altenburg. It was called the Central Theater.
The theater was owned by George Fischer, who had 2/3 of the business, and George Klobe, who had the other 1/3. The business opened in 1936. Caroline Littge, George Fischer’s daughter, provided the photograph shown above and also has the ledger book that was kept to keep track of how the business operated. Here is what is recorded on the first page of that ledger.
There is another section of the ledger which shows purchases. Here we find a list of the films that were shown at the theater.
When I went through this ledger yesterday, I took great pleasure looking up these films on the internet. For some, I found that there are places you can still go to today where you can view some of the entire films. Apparently the first movie to be shown at the Central Theater was Steamboat Around the Bend, starring Will Rogers which was produced in 1935.
If you click on this link, you can find a trailer for this movie from back in the time the movie was produced. I found it very nostalgic and entertaining.
I also find it very appropriate that the first movie shown in this town so close to the Mississippi River would be one about steamboats.
You may also enjoy this little clip from that movie.
The ledger also shows deposits being made on Mondays or Tuesdays at the Bank of Altenburg, which was just a few buildings away. That would indicate that movies were probably shown on weekends. There is a story which still floats around town that the theater once tried showing films on Sundays, and the local churches pitched a fit about it.
The information in the ledger only includes the years 1936-1938, so this business was not around very long. After the theater moved out, this building became a feed and seed storehouse. Presently, the location of the theater is the home of Emily’s Beauty Shop.
Here are some of the other movies shown in 1936 at the Central Theater.
I’m sure there were many local residents that really appreciated the opportunity to see the motion pictures right here in town.