MALEK Theatre

April 1940

Bob and Dorothy moved into a one-room apartment in Independence. They hired Dorothy’s brother, Ray Rowden, and his wife, Virginia, to run The Uptown Theatre in Gladbook. In May of 1940, they asked Joe and Eva Barger of Gladbrook to come work for them at The Grand Theatre as the projectionist, cashier, and bookkeeper. The accepted and business began to boom.

The entire community just loved the Malek’s and invited them everywhere. The film salesmen were bending over backward for them, giving them the films as cheap as they possibly could. Life was simply wonderful for the Malek’s! They would work for a few hours at night and then go for walks or travel during the day. They would have steak dinners at the local VFW and take overnight trips to Des Moines to book and pick up the new films. While Bob was booking the movies for the upcoming month or two, Dorothy would shop at Younkers. They would then spend the evening going out for dinner and dancing and spend the night in a fancy hotel.

Work was simply not work for them. They truly enjoyed entertaining and interacting with the public.

The Grand Theatre was located on the Gedney Block, which housed nine different businesses at the time. The Gedney Hotel, Shepherd Barber Shop, Gedney Tap Room, Grand Theatre, Dr. W.E. Erdice Optometry, Western Union Telegraph Co., Gedney Smoke Shop, Iowa Liquor Store, and American Railway Express Company. All had storefronts on Chatham Street except the American Railway Express Company, which was on 2nd Ave. NE.

The Iowa Theatre was located down on Main Street (current east side of Hardware Hank) and showed lower-cost “B” pictures, westerns, mysteries, and serials shown in double features. It was common for towns to have a second theatre for these as the motion picture studios would nearly require you to purchase these in order to purchase the bigger films. The Iowa Theatre was initially known as the Allerton Theatre (early 1900’s) and sat 350 people. Ticket prices started at ten or fifteen cents when it first opened.