Well before Netflix and Hulu, Salyersville was home to an entertainment hub nestled right in the middle of town.
Alma and Forrest “Cricket” Frazier built a string of buildings, approximately in the 1940s, one of which housed one of Salyersville’s movie theaters – The Alamo.
According to local historian, Jimmie Allen, The Alamo opened around 1949, and was owned and operated by the Fraziers, who were the parents of the late city councilman and businessman, Tom Frazier.
The theater was located on Church Street, next to present-day RadioShack.
The Alamo wasn’t the only theater in town at the time, either, Allen said. He also noted that The Star Theatre was also located on Maple Street where the French Cline Insurance Company is now, which at one point in the 1930s was located down the street next to the where the medical building is now, in a building that has been torn down. He said both The Star and The Alamo ran shows every day.
Frazier’s wife, Pat, said that Tom once told her that over time he had popped enough popcorn to fill the whole theater.
Alma was notorious for her flashlights, making sure no one was doing anything inappropriate during a show.
“She borrowed enough flashlights from the drugstore, we probably found 20 flashlights in her apartment after she died,” Pat laughed.
Tom’s dad, Cricket, put some speakers on top of his car and drove throughout the county, announcing loudly what was playing at the theater.
“They didn’t call it ‘going to the movies,’ then,” Pat remembered. “It was always ‘going to the show,’ and everyone came to town to go to the show.”
The most successful movies were the Elvis movies, with those nights exceptionally packed.
“They racked up on Elvis Presley movies back in the day,” Pat said.
The newer the movies, the more costly it was for the theater to get them, so most the movies were not new releases, but the Fraziers worked with The Strand, the theater in Prestonsburg, to help each other out to cut down costs.
Alma had Saturday matinees, which attracted a lot of kids, Pat said. Sunday matinees were also a pretty big hit, as well, and the theater ran shows almost every day – if not every day.
The theater was a family affair, with Alma’s parents helping with ticket sales, Tom popping popcorn and running the films, and his brother, Phillip, coming in from Lexington to help out.
Pat said she couldn’t ever get Tom to go to the movies because it always felt like work to him.
“Entertainment to him was getting to stay home and watch TV,” Pat remembered.
The theater building is deceptively large, though it looks small from the street, Pat noted, showing that the top of the theater is almost as tall as the two-story building next door, where Alma’s apartment was.
“It’s very deceiving how big it actually is, and it used to be packed,” she said.
Alma later leased the theater to Paul Howard, Jack Collins and David Gardner, who kept the business going until the early 1980s. The last movie on the marquee was the “Urban Cowboy,” which was released in 1980.
Pat said many of the features, including the original sloping floor where the seats were, the stage, and the art deco light fixtures, are still intact, but the building is now used as storage for the next door used furniture business.
Independent Photo || PAT FRAZIER
THE ALAMO: Wiley Arnett, Alma Frazier's dad, stands in front of The Alamo, in a picture dated approximately 1950. The Alamo sits next to present-day RadioShack, which is Western Auto above. To the right of the theater is Wiley Arnett's house.