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The modest Liberty Theatre on East Main Street was sure to attract eager youngsters

Bob Cox • Jan 12, 2020 at 12:00 PM

Question: What does one get when they cross a B-movie western with the Three Mesquiteers? They receive The Three Mesquiteers, a group of over 50 cowboy flicks released by Republic Pictures in the 1930s and 1940s.

This ad for a showing at the Liberty Theatre in 1937, was the 8th such film in the series and took place in a circus. “Come On, Cowboys” featured Bob Livingston, Ray Corrigan and Max Terhune.

The Three Mesquiteers was quite a popular series of films and featured a rotating group of three cowboy heroes. Even the great John Wayne became a Mesquiteer for eight films in 1938.

The attached western flick advertisement was not to be the best one of the Mesquiteers series. As an avid cowboy flick lover from the 1950s, I can tell you there is no such thing as a bad western, black and white or color. Some were just better than others.

The action is what we young cowpunchers measure as “entertainment value.” I remember going to both black and white and color pictures.

The action is what caused us to sit tall in our seats. It didn't matter if someone dropped a partially eaten candy bar or soft drink on the floor. We knew it was not to be retrieved. We kept our eyes glued on that wonderful movie on what we perceived as a big white screen.

The Liberty Theatre had, in my opinion, the best buttered popcorn on the planet. The candy dispensary was fully equipped with a plentiful assortment of goodies. We did not have much money to spend so we ordered sparingly.

Trips to the restrooms in the lobby were few and far between after the movie started. We took care of that task before the movie started and learned to “hold it” until THE END graciously made its final bow on the big screen.

It wouldn't be long before we would revisit this theater and do it all over again. Other theater options were the Tennessee on West Market Street, the Sevier on Spring Street and The Majestic on East Main Street. Those were wonderful days, never to be forgotten.

In conclusion, I have a feature story coming to the Johnson City Press soon that suggests there were two separate Liberty Theaters, one on E. Main Street and the other on Spring Street (not the Sevier Theatre). It is worth the wait; don't miss any exciting moment of it.

Reach Bob Cox at [email protected] or go to www.bcyesteryear.com.

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