Memories of a big-screen family connection.

by Carolyn Camper Mann

I can’t remember the first movie I went to in the small town where I grew up. However, I do remember a movie that was very special.

We lived in Omaha, Nebraska in the early 1960s. My husband, Harry, was on an Air Force “Bootstrap” assignment to complete a Bachelor’s degree in six months at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

We lived in Elkhorn, Nebraska, a few miles out from Omaha. On our way into town, we often drove by a big drive-in theater. One month, the movie How the West Was Won (1962) was playing at the theater. As I recall, there were three huge screens, which had something to do with the panoramic scenes in the film.

Since my husband’s cousin Carroll Baker was in the movie, we decided to attend and wrestle with our young son while watching it. We were blown away by the film. The scenes were incredible shown on the three screens. Pictures of a raft floating down the river … on and on. I loved the movie and the history it portrayed. It really made me identify with areas of our country that I had never seen then. I get goosebumps now when I think about how it made me feel at that time.

Note that Carroll Baker was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1931. My husband was born in Johnstown in 1935. He grew up there. I don’t remember the exact sequence for the cousin thing, but Harry’s maternal grandmother was Rose Getty Baker Baumer, so the connection was on that side of the family.

How the West Was Won is still a great movie. If you haven’t seen it, I would suggest that you check it out. It won’t be as grand as it is on big screens, but you will still see some beautiful scenery and a great, believable story.


Carolyn Camper Mann is a retired administrator who lives in Tempe, Arizona. She has two adult children–Michael and Melissa–and two grandchildren.

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