OK Theater HISTORIC 5 Op Ed

Thursday February 20, 1919.

A subject which has been up for public discussion many times in town in recent years, the Sunday opening of picture shows, came to a crisis again when the O.K. Theatre announced that its house would put on a government war production, “Pershing’s Crusaders,” last Sunday afternoon. A petition bearing a small number of signatures asking that the house be permitted to open Sundays had been presented to the council previously, and had been laid on the table.

The production proved a great attraction, and was seen by between 600 and 700 persons Sunday afternoon.

Petitions asking the council to prevent the continuance of the Sunday shows were drawn up and were circulated at the churches on Sunday and elsewhere in town on Monday. They asked the council to act because the Sunday opening l detrimental to public morals, and would be harmful to the churches and their work.

Monday evening a small delegation representing the signers of the petitions was on hand in the council room promptly at the opening hour. J.A. Burleigh was the spokesman. He presented the petitions, bearing the signatures of 390 persons, nearly all adults. This list, he said represented the good citizenship of the town, the men and families which had built the town and made it a clean, wholesome place in which to live.

The 390 names, Mr. Burleigh urged, meant probably 1800 of the 2500 in the city showed an overwhelming sentiment in favor of keeping theaters closed on Sunday…..

Mr. Van Wie followed with a briefer reply. Every city in the country, he said, had discussed the matter of Sunday pictures and the question had been thrashed out thoroly, the conclusion being almost universally that the shows did no harm and that there was no reason for opposing them. Every large town in the state and nation, he said, has Sunday shows, and public morals have not suffered. He planned to put on the best to be had, and promised productions of educational value for the patronage of those who wished to attend. ….

….. The motion to lay the petitions on the table until the next meeting passed the council’s vote unanimously. In the meantime, the Sunday pictures will continue at the theater. Mr. Van Wie said that he believed the majority of people in the town favored the shows, and he could not see that his policy was wrong in any respect.

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