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Old Photo Of Rialto Brings Back Memories For Many

This article first appeared in issue 18, and was written by Ed Waggener.

Columbia real estate salesman Jimmy Harper located the fascinating photo of the old Rialto Theatre, once co- owned by his father.

The Rialto was located in what is now the brick section of the Bank of Columbia. As one faces the bank, the theatre would be to the right in that part of the building.

Not Exactly Gentlemen, was the movie showing , and Sweepstakes was the coming attraction. Both movies were released in 1931, which means that the date of the photo is after that, but before World War II, according to Jimmy Harper.

Tickets were 35 for adults and 20 for children. Adults were over 14 years of age, so that birthday was generally a well-guarded secret.

Alfred Harper and Vernon Yarberry sold the Rialto to John Ritchie Walker. The sellers immediately went to Louisville, and Mr. Yarberry returned first. Mr. Walker asked, "Where's Alfred?" and Mr. Yarberry replied, "He's still in Louisville. I came back because I wanted to keep part of my money."

Mr. Harper was killed in action in World War II.

Mr. Yarberry operated a number of businesses in Columbia and was later a dairy farmer.

Mr. Ray Walker, whose identify was made by Euline Bowe and confirmed by Mrs. James Graves, was a popular figure in the community. He was tall, handsome, witty, and lithe. Mrs. Bowe says that from what older people tell her, he was the best dancer in his day. "They say he would get up on tables in restaurants and dance like nobody's business."

Movie popcorn was a real bargain then. Paper cones of popcorn sold for 5. When the picture show was open, the popcorn cooker was generally on the outside.

The theatre is probably identified with Francis Xavier "X" Merkley than with any other person. He owned it between the time it was owned by John Ritchie Walker and the Tootie Rowe, who sold the theater to Charles Marshall, the owner of the newer Columbian Theater. Mr. Marshall closed the Rialto.

Between the time of the Rialto and the Bank of Columbia occupancy, Gaspard and Evelyn Brockman ran Columbia General Appliance in the space.



This story was posted on 1997-12-24 12:01:01
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Archive Photo



1997-12-24 - Photo Staff. MR. ALFRED HARPER, left, and MR. VERNON YARBERRY, center, owners of the Rialto, with MR. RAY WALKER, the projectionist. Alfred Harper was the father of Jimmy Harper, owner of the photo. This item first appeared in Issue 18 of the print edition of Columbia! Magazine.
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Archive Photo



1997-12-24 - Photo Staff. The OLD and the NEW: The inset shows where the Rialto was located in relation to the Bank of Columbia today.This item first appeared in Issue 18 of the print edition of Columbia! Magazine.
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