He did well enough with his first theater (The
DeSoto) to build a new one at the corner of Airways and Lamar in
Memphis, again with much assistance from Bob Bostick. That
theater also succeeded, and with the help of associates like Louie
Weaver, Kemmons kept expanding over the next several years until he
owned 11 movie theaters.
Amidst all the wheeling
and dealing, Kemmons finally found time - but, just barely - to get
married. He was in too big a hurry to begin wedded life with a real
vacation, so he combined business with pleasure on his honeymoon.
"When he proposed, Kemmons said if I wanted a honeymoon,
I'd have to go along to New Orleans with him," Dorothy recalls. "He
had to go to a Wurlitzer convention there and he couldn't take time
off to go anywhere else."
So on the evening of December 2, 1941, Dorothy and
Kemmons married in the parsonage at Galloway Methodist Church at
Cooper and Walker, where Dorothy was a member. However, she almost
didn't make it to her own wedding. An error at her bookkeeping job
at the William Len Hotel kept her working long past quitting time.
From Chapter Four - "Flying the Hump" Excerpts from
After the Japanese attack on the U.S.
navel fleet at Pearl Harbor, America went to war with Japan and its
Axis partners, Germany and Italy. World War II would soon change the
lives of every American.
Kemmons knew he would answer the call of
duty. But in the meantime, he had business to
tend to around Memphis. One of the first things he did after his
honeymoon was to return home and open the new movie theater he had
built on Airways Avenue. He made it a true family operation,
installing Dorothy behind the ticket window and Doll (his Mother) at
the candy counter. Kemmons took the tickets himself. "Low overhead,"
he recalls with a grin. Dorothy worked there until a few weeks
before their first child, Spence, arrived in late 1942.