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My thoughts on the passing of Russell Ely

Posted by on September 18, 2005 at 23:36:12:

An old friend of mine has died.

He wasn't a KHS grad, he was born in Neola, in 1913. He had lived in Kingman since 1952, and had been a mechanic at Vanlandingham Motors, and later was a co-owner of Kingman Salvage.

His name was Russell Ely, and he was the father of Everett, Don and Danny, as well as the late Harold and Jeremy who preceded him in death.

Russell was my mentor at the Meade Theater, as he was the chief projectionist in the mid 1960s when he trained me how to thread up those "ancient" projectors (well, they were older than I was), and keep an arc lamp fired for the duration of a reel of film (about one seventh of the movie), then seamlessly change over to the other projector so the audience wouldn't know anything had happened.

It was kind of a continuation of a family tradition. My father, Ed C. Pulliam had started when he was a projectionist for Buddy Mead's father Frank Meade at the old Pram Theater (now the VFW hall).

Russell was kind of an imposing instructor, but he was also forgiving. I remember an early mistake I made that was going to result in the picture going "dark". I reluctantly went out of the projection booth and told Russell what I had done. He rushed by me, into the booth, shut down the light source, fixed the problem, and had the picture back on in a matter of seconds. Then he turned to me and said, "Everybody makes that mistake ONCE, just don't make it again!"

I never did.

After college, my first career was managing a very new concept in those days, multiple auditorium movie theaters. I never forget the lessons that Russell Ely and Buddy Meade taught me. But I especially never forgot the lesson Russell Ely taught me that you can be a hard trainer of new employees, but they also deserve a break!

Thanks Russell.

Ed Pulliam

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