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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Local drummer seeks to identify Thayer residents from 1938 films

Thursday, February 2, 2012

When Mammoth Spring drummer Greg Larson, known professionally as R.J. Jukes, was given several films 10 years ago that were shot in Thayer in 1938, he immediately wanted to identify the film subjects.

"Those little babies on the films are somebody's grandpa now," Larson said Jan. 29. "That's hard to imagine."

Larson studied ethnomusicology at the University of Memphis, his emphasis there being on the history of blues music. At the time, he managed the Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis.

"I have a long interest in Southern history, and when I stumbled upon this tape which featured Thayer, I was ecstatic," Larson said.

The films were given to Larson by Thayer Alderman Mike Harber, who played in musical groups with Larson for many years before retiring.

The films, called "Merchants Home Town Movies," likely were originally shot by longtime Thayer druggist Bob Martin, and shown before movies at the Beck Theater.

"I think they were meant to attract people to the theater to see themselves on film, which was a new medium at the time," Larson said.

The series of films, now on VHS tape, were passed around Thayer for years, although no one wrote down the names of the people featured in them, which have been lost to history.

Some of the films show downtown Thayer, with many clips of customers walking out of the drug store or barber shop. Other clips show children leaving school. Larson was most fascinated with a young boy dressed as a "greaser," like an early James Dean.

"I would like to know who that little kid was," Larson said. "No one dressed like that in Thayer in 1938."

Larson posted videos of the films on several Internet sites, hoping to get responses from people who could identify their old neighbors or relatives. Through his efforts, Larson has identified only a handful.

Larson, a 1980 Mammoth Spring graduate, loves history, particularly of this region. He hopes to show the films at area events to learn more about them, and eventually turn the project into DVDs to sell.

All the proceeds from the sale of the films would be donated to Fun and Friends Senior Center in Thayer, where Larson's parents attended for many years.

When at home, Larson plays with his band, "Stillwater Hardy," and plays the organ at St. Michael's Church in Cherokee Village. He has been a church organist since he was 14, starting at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Thayer in 1975.

Since then, he has played drums for a host of internationally known performers including Isaac Hayes, Johnny Depp, Axl Rose, Jimmy Page, Tanya Tucker, Billy Ray Cirrus, Gary Busey, Jimmy Wolf and Kevin Bacon.

With Harber, Larson also performed at the Whitehouse for President Bill Clinton.

To see the films online

Larson recently set up a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/groups/thayer193... where people can see all five videos and leave comments.

The film can also be seen on Larson's YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/jukes333.

Other links with still photos are on the Thayer Bobcodgers site that was created by Thayer author Max Evans at http://sites.google.com/site/thayerbobco....

If you know them

To identify any of the subjects or share other information about the films, contact Larson at nos4ra267@yahoo.com or 870-895-2521.

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After watching this film I decided to walk around Thayer and relive these moments.

Thanks Bob, Mike, R.J Jukes and Linda for this wonderful piece of history!

-- Posted by mistarogerz on Sun, Feb 5, 2012, at 8:22 AM

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