Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick
THE BELLS OF ST. MARY
I was only four years old when the blockbuster movie, "The Bells of St. Mary" was released in 1945 starring Bing Crosby, Ingred Bergman, and Joan Carroll. It was the same year that Theo Fellows died, leaving my grandmother to sell her farm and move to Leando. I only vaguely remember that Reverend Parrott lived next door.
Within the following year, the parish ministry changed. Burl and Ruth Roudebush moved into the neighboring parsonage with their three children, Joann, Dorothy, and Leland who became my constant daily playmates.
When the box office smash came to the Wampas Theatre in Keosauqua in 1946, my grandmother made plans to see the movie, and we anticipated the occasion. Adult reaction made it obvious that something big and wonderful was about to transpire in our tender, young lives! For us children, it would be our first time to view a motion picture.
One night my grandmother, my mother, and I set out for Keosauqua with the Roudebush family to see the picture show. The twelve-mile car ride seemed endless, as the suspense of this adventure was killing me. But disappointment awaited us at the ticket window as we quickly learned that the movie was sold out!
Behold! Grandma had waited too long to be denied. Determined not to miss what might be her only chance at seeing the show, she asked if we could sit in the aisle, and the management granted her request. Strung out through the middle of the aisle, each adult sat on the floor "Indian style" with the four of us children cuddled around them.
Alas! The darkness of the theater, the music, and all of the excitement of this epic event quickly lulled us children to sleep. Sprawled out in the aisle with my head on my motherís leg, I slumbered through the unparalleled happening of my first motion picture.
Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick