The Superior Express -

After 30 years Crest manager retires

Carla Gebers exits the screen

 


Carla Gebers has been the face of Superior’s Cres Theatre for more than 30 years. She announced her retirement recently with her last day at the helm being June 30th.

Carla Darling was born in Superior. She graduated from Superior High School in 1974.

Carla worked in the Superior utility office for seven years. She married Dennis Gebers in 1979. The couple have two children: Tyson, who resides in Lincoln and Carly Gebers who resides in Superior. Tyson Gebers and his wife are expecting their first child soon.

Carla was employed by Struve Enterprises, Deshler, to work at the theatre. She soon found herself serving as the de facto manager, overseeing all aspects of the theatre operation. In addition to screening movies, the Crest also rented video cassettes. As technology advanced, DVD’s replaced the VHS tapes.

In 1996 Carla and Dennis took a major step and purchased the Crest Theatre. They also acquired the Majestic Theatre in Hebron from Struve Enterprises.

Owning and operating not one but two theatres, separated by 40 miles, was a distinct challenge which Carla handled with aplomb.

Just as DVD’s replaced VHS tapes and VCR’s, so to did change come to the technology used to show motion pictures. For decades, theatres had utilized carbon arc projectors. These employed an electric arc light which illuminated the film frames as they passed in front of lens. The style of these projectors resembles that of home movie projector only larger. The projector had a top reel holding the film and the bottom reel serving to take up the film after it passed by the lens. A typical movie might have two to four reels. Two projectors were required. As one reel emptied, the projectionist changed over to the other projector to ensue continuity.

Movie projectors used 35 mm film while home projectors used a variant of 8 mm film. They relied on cue marks on the film to indicate when and where the change takes place. If you watch older movies, look in the upper right hand corner of the screen. You may notice circles appear for a brief period of time. These were the cues that the projector operator relied on to time the change of reels.

The next iteration featured a single reel mounted on a spinning horizontal table. The film was fed through a single projector.

This method served as the standard for several years. Carla invested in the new technology and soldiered on with the Crest and Majestic. Both theatres had been partitioned into two separate viewing theatres. This was done by Struve. His theory was if one theatre was good, then two should be even more profitable.

As the years passed the demographics changed. There was not often enough patrons to partially fill even one theatre much less two.

The death knell for Gebers’ theatres was the introduction of digital technology. Film was completely unnecessary. A card was inserted into a digital projector or the feature was streamed over the internet.

Not surprisingly, the new technology came with a high price tag. It was not just the projectors which needed replacing. The sound systems had to be replaced as well.

Gebers realized that she would never recoup the required investment. She placed the theatres up for sale. There were no takers. She reluctantly announced the closure of both the Crest and Majestic.

Then a strange thing happened. The community rallied around the theatre. Too many small towns were being deprived of entertainment venues. The Southern Nebraska Arts Council was launched with the specific goal of preserving the theatre for Superior residents.

A similar effort was undertaken to save the Majestic Theatre in Hebron. It too continues to operate and serve the community.

Fund raising efforts got underway. Grants were written and awarded. The theatre was saved and now shines and thrives.

Gebers stayed on to serve as manager. The new projectors and sound systems were installed in phases. Upgraded seats were purchased from an Omaha theatre. They were installed by a core group of theatre volunteers who worked to first refurbish one theatre. When that theatre was brought up to today’s standards, work was begun and completed on the second theatre.

The Crest is now home to twin state of the art theatres. Volunteers are an essential; part of the equation. They man the concession stand, rent DVDs, clean the theatres as well as taking care of the outdoor grounds. The outer walls have been upgraded. A new roof was installed. A computerized marquee has been installed. It can be programmed with the movie title, times as well as other information.

Though a new manager is in place, Gebers will be around to provide support and assistance if needed. Carla has dedicated more than 30 years of her life to providing quality entertainment for Superior residents. It’s time for her to rest and perhaps spoil a grandchild. Dennis retired from the City of Superior Street Department last year. The two will be frequent visitors to Lincoln.

Gebers will be honored with a reception at the theatre Saturday. See the ad in this week’s newspaper for details.

 

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