(c)2013 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL
Jeff Sutton holds last week’s Plain Talk that republished an old photo in which
he appeared as a six-year-old getting to meet Sunset Carson at the Woodzo
Drive-In Theater. You may be in the photo too and I’d like to hear from you.
|Published: 8:11 PM, 07/26/2013
||Last updated: 8:12 PM, 07/26/2013
Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
Late July morning temperatures seem more like early fall
in our hometown but at least there is less rain so farmers can resume cutting
and harvesting hay. The week begins with August on the horizon, the start of
the school year. Can football be far behind?
Who were those children?
Last week you saw the 1970s photo made when western star
Sunset Carson appeared at the Woodzo Drive-In. It was a large group scene in
front of the five-story tall screen west of Newport as film exhibitor Harold
Smith entertained before show time. I wandered who the other folks were in the
photo, especially the children. I found out a couple of names last Sunday when
Jeff Sutton dropped in on me. He is now 47 and works for Newport Utilities as a
lineman. He is the small boy in grouping at left of horse in photo and is the
boy at right closest to the horse. Next to him is his sister, Robin Sutton
Brooks, who happened to see my article and photo and remembered the show.
Jeff was born in 1966 and so was about age 7 when the
photo was made about summer 1973 and he can't recall meeting Sunset. Jeff's Dad
is Alvin Ray Sutton who lived at one time in the Lower English Creek area as
did another Sutton family I knew well, that of Leonard Sutton. Jeff's Mom is
Shirley Locke, who now lives in Gulfport, Mississippi. I learned that Alvin was
a step-brother to Harold Smith because at one time Harold's father, Ivan was
married to Ada Sutton, Jeff's grandmother. You or a family member or friend
might be in the photo, too, and I would like to hear from you.
The last outdoor theater
Harold Smith held on as long as he could operating one of
the largest outdoor screens in the south. He often said he felt that citizens
close enough to see a show in Newport did not appreciate how unique his screen
and shows were. If you go back to the 1960s and 1970s you would find a highly
energetic Smith thinking of ways to entertain. The photos I borrowed show a
great example of how he did this when he invited film star Sunset Carson to do
some gun slinging and rope tricks at the Woodzo. Both James Finchum, city
interim administrator, and Tommy Williamson, former long-time friend and
employee of Smith's shared classic black and white photos. I believe I may have
made the large group scene that included Harold and daughter, Sherry. This must
have been in the early 1970s. Tommy recalled that "Little" Jim
Finchum often came to the shows and most likely had in tow, James, who said he
was about age 14 at the time of meeting Sunset Carson. I also noticed a
familiar face with Sunset and the Finchums. Tommy had to remind me it was
Eugene Fox, who supplied the horse for Sunset's show that night. Tommy believes
that Eugene is still alive and lives off Old Cave Church Road near Splashaway.
I'm sure the horse has long passed on. We will be talking more about the
theater days as Wayne Buckner brought in some interesting photos. You recall he
lost his left leg in an accident at his home in 2007.
Good news for Tennie
Last Monday we had an urgent visit from Tennie
Louise Yates, who lives off Yates Road in Del Rio. She explained to our
classified manager Brenda Crum of the loss of her black handbag and wanted to
get the word out through the Plain Talk. She did place a "Reward
Offered" for lost purse ad. She explained how it all happened, and I could
tell Tennie was most upset, as you would be to lose important identification,
insurance documents and keys plus some money. The good news we learned later
was a family member found the lost handbag off Midway Road. How did this all
happen? Tennie distributes pies to sick and elderly in her community, and I
forgot to ask her who made these pies and how long she has been doing this Good
Samaritan work. After she left Yates Road July 21 onto John's Creek to Midway,
the rutted roadway caused her truck to bounce and pies fell off a tray on the
truck's seat. She swerved to the left during the pie fallout and quickly moved
her handbag out of the way to keep pie filling from getting on everything. The
truck went off the roadway onto the left embankment and stopped. She soon
discovered her handbag and its contents were missing. Her second cousin Roger
Seay, who works at Sonoco Products, came by and helped her search.
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