Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the origins and growth of the agriculture industry in Southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.
Entertainment of the Bulloch Times and Statesboro News issue of Feb. 1, 1917 announced that Miss Nannie Mell Olliff was the winner in the Amusu Theater's popularity contest.
And, her win "entitles her to a free trip to Atlanta, where she will enter the Southeastern Land Show Motion Picture Contest, which will run from February 1st to February 15th."
Then, in the Bulloch Times and Statesboro News issue of Feb. 22, 1917, another contest was announced. It centered around "The Pianofiend," who holds the world's record piano-playing endurance contest.
His record was playing consecutively for 31 hours. Amusu customers were encouraged to see him at "Goff's Utopia parlor" on Wednesday, where he was going to play between 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The winner would be the one who guessed how many keys he pressed down in 10 1/2 hours of playing at Goff's Utopia parlor. A prize of $5 awaited the person who guessed the number closest to how many keys he pressed.
After finishing at the Utopia, the “Pianofiend “would then go to the Amusu where he would put on a "novelty piano act" for the Amusu customers.
Then, in the Dec. 6, 1917 issue of the Bulloch Times and Statesboro News, it was asked "Are You for Your Country or Against?" In response, the Amusu theater management had prepared a special event.
"A special Red Cross matinee on Saturday, Dec. 8th, at 10:30 a.m., the entire proceeds of which are to be turned over to the Red Cross War Council."
The Amusu declared "There is absolutely no expense of any kind — performers, volunteers, musicians, mechanic, in fact, all employees and attaches of the Amusu volunteered their services."
In addition, "The government will require no war tax, and this newspaper is co-operating with this free publicity. General admission, 15 cents, (and) your patronage may save a life on the battle-field."
The Bulloch Times and Statesboro News issue of Jan. 9, 1919 revealed that "Thompson Buys Amusu Theater from Barkett. New Owner Assumed Charge Monday-Will Hold Up the Standard of Play House."
"L.T. Barkett, who founded the Amusu Theater (in 1915), and has conducted it continuously since, sold his business this week to J.M. Thompson, who has already assumed charge."
And, "Mr. Thompson announces that he will follow the standard set by Mr. Barkett for the highest-class features and will render the best possible service to the play-goers of Statesboro."
So, "His hours will be as heretofore, matinee 3:30 in the afternoon, and two reels at night, 7:30 and 9:30 o'clock. Mr. Barkett, who has been in business in Statesboro for 10 years or longer, will probably move away."
The same newspaper revealed "The Amusu Theater, the Home of High-Class Pictures Program for the Week Beginning Jan. 13th" began with Monday's movie, the Paramount super-feature "Fedora."
Other featured movies included "Fight for Millions," "The Red Woods," "A Nine O'clock Town" and "The Clutch of Circumstances."
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at email@example.com.