A reflection on the escapes of yesterday

WEST MILFORD. What residents did to distract from the war.

| 17 Aug 2022 | 10:47

Before World War II involved the United States with the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, people in West Milford and surrounding towns looked forward to weekend visits to either Butler or Pompton Lakes movie houses where the most popular films of the day were shown. Television sets were not yet available. People only had radios in their homes for news and entertainment.

When war broke out the weekend trips to the movies continued despite gas rationing and other cutbacks and sacrifices to support the war effort.

Most people still were able to look forward to a weekly movie trip to one of the theaters. For those who couldn’t drive to the theaters for whatever reason, John Cyriacks who had a contract to bus children to school in West Milford, converted his yellow school bus into a Friday night movie bus. He picked up riders along Macopin Road and drove them to the Butler theater on Arch Street. The round-trip cost was 25 cents. The bus was always full.

There were always news reports about military heroes with “Movietone” reels of film to show how America was successfully fighting the enemies. These were shown before the main feature. Often, stories about the war and the loneliness of those serving in the military and their loved ones at home was the movie theme.

After the war, going to see films at the Butler and Pompton movies continued to be a favorite form of entertainment.