Edwin Allan Australia Tom

(1902—1995)



 KNOWN AS   Allan
 
 BORN 27 January 1902 at Bushman’s Dam, near Parkes, NSW.
 Data 

NSW Birth Record 5907/1902

TOM EDWIN A A
SYDNEY A & EMMA W H
@ PARKES
 
 DIED 20 May 1995 at Manildra, NSW.
 BURIED Toogong, NSW.
 
 FATHER Sydney Australia Tom (1867-1954)
 MOTHER Emma Westfield Hastings Glazier (1870-1931)
 
 MARRIED Vera Dorothy McDonald (1903-1982) in 1927 at St Saviour’s CofE, Goulburn, NSW.
 Data 

NSW Marriage Record 4205/1927

TOM EDWIN A A & MCDONALD VERA D
@ GOULBURN
 
 CHILDREN   Norma Lynette Tom (b. 1928 m. Jeff Woohart)
Gweneth Tom (b. 1929 m. Proudfoot)
Phyllis Elizabeth Tom (b. 1931 m. Maxworth)
Janet Tom (b. 1937 m. Powe)
Edward Tom (1934-1939)
 
Death—SMH 22 May 1995


♦♦♦

Allan was best known for being a picture show man in central west NSW. The following chronology is edited from the state heritage website (see below).

1895 first moving picture screened in Paris
1901 Federation of Australia
1902 January 27th Edwin Allan Australia Tom born to Sydney and Wes at Bushman’s Dam, near Parks, NSW; drought
1905 Sydney & Wes Tom move to Manildra
1906 fist motor car to Murga
1914 Tom’s garage and carriers commences business (still operating in 1999); being underage Allan Tom uses a horse and cart
1915 At 13 Allan Tom leaves school to commence work in father’s bike shop
1916 Allan Tom travels to Sydney to sit Railway Exams; Jim Tom invalided home from World War 1 and starts car hire business using a Model T Ford and charging a bob a mile
1918 16year old Allan Tom obtains driver’s license at Cudal (held continuously until his death in 1995)
1921 Jim Tom takes over the family garage, Sydney Tom operates bike store in front office and Allan Tom runs car hire business
1922 Mr Kendall from Condobolin brings first electrical moving picture to Manildra
1923 Allan Tom sets up 1st silent film show in Manildra with loan of £500 at 10% interest from local publican; business starts showing movies with Australian made Cummings & Wilson projector; mother Wes plays piano; when travelling uses HMV phonograph for sound
1925 January 26 first commercial radio station 2UE opens, 5 valve radio sets introduced
1926 Allan Tom modifies a Oldsmobile car to act as a mobile projection room and a Chevrolet truck to cart tents, seats and other paraphernalia; Tom brothers buy first radio in Manildra
1927 Allan marries Dorothy (Dorrie) McDonald of Crookwell
1929 Allan Tom supplies sound for Canowindra Theatre
1930 Allan Tom introduces ’talkies’ to Manildra by adapting existing equipment
1931 Allan Tom commences regular 4 to 6 week tours of Western NSW and writes own publicity brochures and posters
1932 Allan Tom has difficulty renting halls so buys a marque, folding chairs, pianola
1936 Allan Tom builds the AMUSU at Manildra and theatre at Tullamore.
19?? Allan Tom leases theatres in Wyanga, Trundle and Peak Hill;
Allan Tom installs first street light in Manildra outside the family owned garage
1937 Jim Tom dies and is buried on Anzac Day; Allan Tom forced to run family garage business and employs a crew to run the touring show until 1949
1940 Allan Tom rebuilds the garage next door to the Amusu theatre
1942 Allan Tom buys Frape’s Hall to establish the Millthorpe Amusu theatre with Stan Goode as manager
1949 Lynette Tom marries Jeff Woodhart, together they take over the touring show business [until late 1950s]; Allan Tom draws up a petition for outlying school students to be bussed to Manildra and offers to provide the service
1965 Allan Tom takes over NRMA Service van for Manildra, Cudal, Murga, Toogong and Cargo (relinquished in 1992 aged 90)
1983 Allan Tom celebrates 60 years of showmanship, congratulations received from Prime Minister Robert Hawke and NSW Premier Neville Wran
1985 Motion Picture Distributors Association notes that 27 rural screens closed in one year
1987 Amusu used by Hoytes Entertainments & Media as the location for a promotional video presented by Good Morning Australia host, John Barton.
1993 Allan Tom awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to Manildra and outlying communities
1993 Allan Tom noted as the oldest living member of original band of picture show men who toured NSW
1992 Allan Tom retires as the NRMA’s oldest patrolman, aged 90 and being the State’s oldest licence holder
1994 May 6 Allan Tom runs his last film and a week later
1995 May 20 Allan Tom dies of a stoke at age 93; daughter and son-in-law, Lyn & Jeff Woodhart, take over running the Amusu.

As at May 1999 Amusu still opens on Saturday nights and for special groups.

The ABC reports:

Back in the days when it was called the pictures, and certainly not the movies; Manildra resident Allan Tom started the Amusu Travelling Picture Show that went around western New South Wales in the 1920s and 1930s.
And back in the days before cinemas had multiple theatres and the seats had cup-holder armrests, Mr Tom founded the Amusu Theatre in Manildra. It’s still going today, making the Amusu the oldest continually running cinema in Australia.
Mr Tom died in 1995 at the ripe old age of 93 but his Amusu (pronounced Amuse-you) legacy lives on today with a committee made up of Manildra residents taking on the day-to-day running of the theatre.
With a population of only 540, the village of Manildra has embraced the Amusu. Joan Stevenson is the president of the Amusu Theatre and the little cinema that time forgot is her pride and joy.
It was built in 1936 by Edwin Allan Australia Tom and he’s our Picture Show Man. Allan used to travel around the Central Western areas.
They were silent movies at that stage, he went to Sydney and had a look at the projectors that had sound and he couldn’t afford to pay for those.
So Mr Tom engaged the spirit of improvisation, He came back and did his own sound. But it didn’t always go to plan, when he first started off with the silent movies in the theatres, his mother Wes used to play the piano but she used to get caught up with the movie and forget to play the piano. Allen used to get quite upset about that, says Joan.
The Amusu Theatre was in the Tom family until 2003 when the Cabonne Council bought it from Mr Tom’s daughter Lynne. She’s still on the committee today.
Paintings and photographs of Mr Tom adorn the theatre’s walls and make it seem like he’s watching over the audience when they gather together once a month to watch family-friendly films. His pictures also watch over the audience as they eat their free country supper afterwards.
But if you think the Amusu’s carbon arc projectors only get fired up once a month, think again. Joan opens up the Amusu for buses full of tourists ready to step back in time.
We show them the Allan Tom story with a few little snippets of black and white movies, ads and little features.
But when it comes to lollies and the pictures, old habits die hard. There’s always someone who rolls them down the aisle, I tell them not to because it’s not very good for the hips especially when you roll on them.
When asked about the Amusu’s longevity, Joan has one reason why it’s lasted so long, I think the dedication of Allan, he just loved the movies and of course his family keeping it going.
Joan and the committee want the theatre to be used more often, but that’s proving to be a costly exercise.
We’d like to show more movies more often but the price of the movies these days, they’re just so expensive that we just can’t compete with the bigger theatres. But with a regular audience of just 70, the Amusu Theatre committee is not in this as a money-making exercise.
We don’t make a lot of money but we do have our regulars and we like to keep them happy.
Even though it isn’t in the big leagues as far as cinemas are concerned, the Amusu can boast one thing that other cinemas in the Central West can’t — it’s hosted a film premiere.
That was for Kangaroo Jack, says Joan, that was the Australian premiere because it was shot in Canowindra and of course, we had all of Canowindra come. They saw themselves for about four seconds, but they loved it.
Technology has gotten the better of the Amusu Theatre, with most films being screened from a DVD or video.
Lynne and I held out as long as we could but the new film that’s come out, the sound on it is just not compatible with our old carbon arc projectors.
The Amusu Theatre still has some of the films that are compatible with their projectors, and one of them is Phar Lap.
Our projectionist actually passed away so he was going to teach my husband how to run the projector, says Joan. My husband learnt how to do the projection and then our movie didn’t arrive one month, says Joan.
So we said, It’s alright, we’ll show Phar Lap.
So we got Phar Lap out and the last old fella that did it, he numbered it wrong so we had Phar Lap dying in the middle, but then he came to life again at the end.
We had an old lady who was about 90-odd and she was just so confused and she said to her son, ’I really like that movie, but I thought he died, then he came back to life. It was very strange but it was very good.’
It was almost inevitable with such an old theatre, to ask Joan whether much mischief has happened in the Amusu. Joan just chuckled and said, Not in my time.
We do have some love seats here but surprisingly enough, they’re up the front. We don’t know why they’re actually up the front.
And apart from the facade, the Amusu Theatre is made out of corrugated iron which means patrons bring a rug in winter and swelter through the movie in summer.
But even without the cushy seats and those cup-holder armrests, Joan reckons the Amusu still has something going for it.
There’s still an atmosphere; an atmosphere you won’t get in the movies in Orange.  





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