1958-1969: Local Management Steps In

Community Rallies to Maintain Avery

Aug. 7, 1958 – After operating continuously since 1931, owner Lloyd Kingsbury announced the Avery Theater was “closed until further notice due to lack of patronage.”

Oct. 18, 1958 – A group of citizens scheduled a meeting to discuss re-opening the Avery Theater. Held at the Hancock County REC meeting room at 7:30 p.m. on a Saturday, special invitations were issued to “all interested citizens an officials and members of the various civic and commercial clubs.”

Nov. 13, 1958 – Plans to re-open the Avery Theater under a rental agreement with owner Lloyd Kingsbury are announced by James (Jim) Howie, president of the Garner Chamber of Commerce. The theater was redecorated, and it would “run late releases.

Nov. 20, 1958 – The movie “This Happy Feeling” was announced as the feature film when the Avery re-opened on Thanksgiving “under the direction and sponsorship” of Jim Howie. Mr. Clare E. Moser of Clear Lake, with theater experience dating back to vaudeville days, was hired to act as manager. Mrs. Moser worked as the cashier.

April 1959 – A Saturday afternoon “children’s series” of films “adapted to children and approved by the national PTA Council” sponsored by the local Women’s Club is shown. It’s unknown how long this schedule lasted.

July 8, 1959 – A Miss Garner pageant, sponsored by the Garner JayCees, was held at the Avery Theater. KRIB radio personality Jack Rockufeller served as master of ceremonies. Miss Kay Hampel, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Arnold Hampel, earned the title, along with a scholarship award and the opportunity to compete at the Miss Iowa contest held July 23-26 at Clear Lake. (Miss Iowa and her companion would fly to Atlantic City, courtesy of Ozark Air Lines.)

Aug. 26, 1959 – A new theater schedule is announced, which includes $1 family nights.  Effective Sept. 1, Monday through Saturday’s nightly show began at 7:45 with the feature starting at 8 p.m. Sunday evenings had two performances at 7 and 9 p.m.  Wednesday and Thursday nights each week were called “Buck Nights.” An entire family, regardless of size was admitted for $1, provided they attended as a group.

Jan 15, 1961 – Jim Howie temporarily closed the Avery until a new manager could be located.

Feb. 4, 1961 – Theater re-opens under the management of Virgil Buntenbach.

June 24, 1961 – The Avery Theater business, including equipment and fixtures, was sold to Richard O’Toole, formerly of Mitchell, South Dakota. He and his family would take an active role in its management.

Lloyd Kingsbury retained ownership the building until his death in 1968 when the title transferred to his widow, Alice Kingsbury. Mrs. Kingsbury retained ownership of the building until 1970.

March 13, 1962 – An agronomist for Pioneer Seed Corn Company was a guest speaker at a district meeting related to the use of fertilizers and the growing of corn. The movie “Breeding Corn for Today’s Farming” was shown, while free refreshments were served.

April 1964 – Garner Volunteer Fire Department discuss the possibility of purchasing the Avery Building for expansion of the equipment storage.

~ mid 1960s – Movies are shown only once a week. The Avery is part of a cooperative group of small town theaters who literally shared the movie reels on a specified rotation each week.

Nov. 19, 1962 – The Hancock County Family Living Committee sponsored a county-wide meat-cooking school. Miss Ann Norman, home economist of the National Livestock and Meat Board, demonstrated a “Galaxy of Foods,” with included preparations of Bavarian pot roast, broiled ham slices, cherry meat muffins, jelly glazed lamb chops, stuffed beef log and gourmet Swiss steak.

Aug. 27, 1962 — “Lilies of the Field” was a benefit movie shown to raise funds for the purchase of a school camera. The school’s G Club and Pep Clubs sponsored the event. The camera would be used by the marching band and athletic departments.

December 10, 17 & 24, 1966 — Coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce, free “all-cartoon” movies are shown to children 12 or younger on the Saturdays leading up to Santa Claus visiting Garner on December 24.

June 1968 – after the death of her husband, Mrs. Alice Kingsbury is the sole owner of the Avery Theater Building.

~ early 1969 —  According to the Avery’s last trained projectionist, The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” was the final movie shown at the Avery Theater. The specific date is unknown.