I daresay that one would be hard pressed to find a showman like the late E.S. "Hi" Meehan, former owner and manager of the Academy Theater.
Hi knew everyone in the town of Lindsay and surrounding area and was always near the front doors of the Academy Monday through Saturday nights where he would greet his customers and pass the time of day and have a joke or two to pass along.
I vividly recall as a young lad hanging around the Theatre and taking note of the things that he did to entice customers to enter the Theatre and it was first class all the way. "Hi" knew what the people wanted and he saw to it that they got exactly that.
Remember when we knew that on Mon., Tues. and Wed. there would usually be a comedy starring Leon Errol or, Edgar Kennedy, The Three Stooges, Roland Young, etc. and then the Movietone News from Fox Studios followed by a cartoon and the trailers. (Coming attractions) and Then the Feature Presentation.
Meehan had a system whereby you would get to see a big feature, or in its place, a double bill which usually consisted of a Gene Autry or Roy Rogers western teamed up with a Bowery Boys or George Formby hit and if the kids clipped a coupon out of "The Post" it was worth a nickel off the admission price. Of course what week-end movie would be complete without a Serial. Remember The Lone Ranger, Burn 'Em Up Barnes, The Phantom, Capt. Marvel and of course Rin Tin Tin. These serials were intended to keep one on the edge of their seats closing with a climax that induced one to come back the following week for "the next exciting chapter."
These movies were great entertainment and one never feared sending their children to a screen filled with violence such as we see to-day.
Remember "Photo Nite"? This was a great crowd pleaser and one that filled the 800 plus seat Academy. All you had to do was be in attendance at the Theatre on Thursday night and if your name corresponded with a number that was drawn, you would be the winner of the jackpot, provided you agreed to "sell" your photo to the Theatre. If there was no winner, the Jackpot grew weekly by another Five Dollars and continued until a winner was finally found.
One day a fellow asked "Hi" why he didn't sell popcorn, candy, drinks, etc. the way the chain theaters were doing. His instant reply was "the fellow next door to me sells confectionery to make a living; I sell entertainment and we have an agreement - I don't take his living away from him and he doesn't take mine away from me"
Yes, "Hi" knew how to play the show biz game.