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March 17, 2013

After 70 year in Norman, a different perspective

NORMAN — Allen Morain has lived in Norman for nearly all of his 70-plus years. He views the city through the eyes of a man who recalls a great childhood and youth in a culture very different than today.

He also has the perspective of a businessman, one who saw his father’s and mother’s hard work blossom into a business that he helped grow into one of Norman’s most successful enterprises.

Morain was just 5 years old when his father was moved here from Clinton to maintain the projection machines for the five screens owned by the Griffin theater chain.

“He worked noon to midnight, seven days a week,” Allen Morain recalls. That left mornings free so the senior Morain left the house carrying a tool box and a ladder. “He went door to door in the business area from the railroad tracks to Porter, down one side and up the other, asking if they had anything that needed repaired.”

He developed a reputation for being able to do about anything that needed done, and people referred to his talents as “Gordon’s specialties,” a phrase he would later use as the name of his business.

Morain’s mother worked hard, too, as a bookkeeper for the family operation and she was a key player in the popcorn business. “Dad repaired the popcorn machines in the theaters and he thought people might buy popcorn at ballgames. So he bought a popcorn machine, and Mom popped corn to take to the ballgames.” The young Morain helped the family by selling bags of popped corn in the campus fraternity houses,

They did all they could to earn a living and to begin to accumulate a little extra. “My dad even thought about how people couldn’t hear well at the high school and OU ball games so he bought a sound system and loud speaker that he would set up at the games. He got a little money, of course.”

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