Gem Theatre

Davenport, OK 74026

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MichaelKilgore on August 11, 2019 at 12:42 pm

A rare glimpse into the life of the Striblings appeared in the March 7, 1960 issue of BoxOffice:

Joe Stribling, Gem and Rig drive-in theatres, Davenport, who also works for the local telephone company, reports the company plans an expansion program which will keep him busier than ever. He plans to reopen the drive-in full time around the middle of April, and to run a Gem late show Saturday nights, using the same picture in the drive-in on the two following days. He has practically turned over the buying and booking to his wife.

MichaelKilgore on May 31, 2019 at 12:16 pm

Joe E. Stribling ran the Gem from at least 1955, the date of a photo I just uploaded.

And we know when the Gem closed. Joe Vogel found the following one-paragraph story from Boxoffice, Aug. 13, 1962, under the Oklahoma City column:

Another little town, Davenport, a few miles east of Chandler, has lost its theatres. Joe E. Stribling and wife, who have operated the Gem Theatre and Rig Drive-In there for years, called it quits and closed both. The drive-in is being dismantled and the equipment stored in the Gem. They have a fine set of CinemaScope lenses and about 50 Simplex speakers, all for sale at a very reasonable price. Stribling was a manager for Griffith Amusement Co. and its successor, Video Independent, for many years, then entered exhibition on his own at the Ritz in Stroud, also in the Chandler area. For several years he has had a job with the telephone company which keeps him out of town during the week, while his wife is busy teaching piano. They admit they have not had time to look after the theatres properly. That and a decline in business caused them to call it quits.

Lauren Durbin
Lauren Durbin on July 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Excellent history, northpenntwin. If the lot is now vacant, then 207 cannot be the address. Hopefully more research can uncover the address.

NorthPennTwin on April 24, 2011 at 11:07 am

The Gem was operated by my Grandfather, Troy Combs. Built in the early 1920’s it no longer exists. There is now a vacant lot where it once stood.

My father, Harold Combs, born in 1926 and my mother, Joanna Barton was born the previous day. My father’s family operated the Gem theater in Davenport and my mother’s family operated the Cozy theater in Stroud. Both small town theater owners from neighboring towns, they shared runs into Oklahoma City for films and supplies so my parents were thrown together in their cribs as both sets of grandparents became colleagues and even competitors. My parents were married after WWII and my father eventually went to work for the Bartons.

The Gem didn’t last and Troy Combs went on to become the Davenport Postmaster, while the Barton theater chain expanded from Stroud to Oklahoma City and beyond.

missmelbatoast on April 3, 2011 at 10:35 am

Here are roadsideoklahoma images of the old Gem

raybradley on March 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm

You’re correct, Sir, regarding that building being much too small. Google maps are always a few numbers off on the exact address. Perhaps the Gem Theatre sat a couple of doors to the left, or on that now vacant lot to the right.
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