Thursday, December 03, 2009

Forest’s Kineto Theatre In The News

The follow was copied from a News paper article
Published Thursday February 3, 1977 in The North Lambton Sun

Forest theatre family succumbs sells Kineto movie house
rs frDSCN0547 Grant Rumford will heave a sigh of relief the end of this month when he handed over ownership of the Kineto Theatre to the Forest Kiwanis Club.
He’ll be getting out of show business, a career he never really wanted, but fell into because he was the son of cinema pioneer Floyd Rumford and because the Kineto Theatre was such an important part of Forest.
Floyd Rumford introduced movies to Southwestern Ontario around 1905 when he hooked up a generator run from an old Ford car to a Kineto brand motion picture projector imported from England.
He showed movies at the skating rink, the town hall. In 1917, he moved to the building which houses the present theatre.
At first he worked with Mr. A. Lundry, but later formed a partnership with his brothers Tom and Marshall, two talented musicians who proved very handy in the days of silent movies.
Tom Rumford was the sound effects man, waiting for the cues on the player piano roll “sound track” to tell him when to create a thunder storm or train wreck. The other brothers and such friends as Jack Burk, Miller McPherson and David Livingstone played the piano.
Singers like Winnie McColl, then 12 years old, belted out hits like “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob Bobin’ Along” as the spotlights flashed on them.
Vaudeville shows, plays and mind readers like the famous Professor Gladstone also held stage of the Kineto in the early days. It was an ideal place for early commencement exercises of the Forest High School.
frDSCN0540 Floyd made history again when he staged one of the first drive-in movies at Lake Valley Grove, July 1919. Some 2,000 people swooned at a community picnic as Douglas Fairbanks Sr. swept across the screen.
The Kineto has always been a family enterprise. Grant and his brother Ted started out selling tickets and “working the floor” downstairs with an audience that was extremely well-behaved by today’s standards.
After the war, Grant went into partnership with his father. He ran the business himself after Floyd died in 1966.
Floyd loved show business, Grant recalls. He went down to Toronto several times a year to book films, and would spend hours in pitched battles with the movie house agents getting the best rental prices possible. Grant says he was amazed that no fistfights ever occurred. But the two contenders met for a social evening immediately following their harangue.
Grant did things differently.
By the time he took over, most of the original movie houses had been bought up by the big international chains, and the personal touch was gone. He hired a Toronto agent to book his films.
Like other independent theatre owners who used to exist in small towns all across Canada, Grant Rumford noticed a bid drop in attendance when television cam in the 50’s. When more families hit the highways the audiences almost vanished.
In the past 25 years, Grand Rumford has watched movies theatres in Petrolia, Watford, Grand Bend, Parkhill, and Strathroy close. Today the Kineto and the Fox in Glencoe are tow of about 20 independent theatres left in Canada.
rs frDSCN0542 Why has the Kineto lasted?
Mr. Rumford credits the continuing support of Forest residents. And the annual boost visiting summer campers give. This local patronage will have to continue if the Kiwanis Club is to make a go of their new venture, he says.
But patronage is useless if there is nothing to patronize. Without the diligence and devotion of Mr. Rumford, his family and staff, the heart of Forest alive could never have survived.

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