Remebering Ed Enderson
From Ranch to Reel by Robin Shepherd Morgan Hill Historical Society
When people think of downtown Morgan Hill , a classic red and white movie marquee usually springs to mind . The iconic landmark sits atop the Granada Theater , a community treasure with a long history of movie entertainment . One man who had a starring role in that history was one of its former owners , Ed Enderson .
Ed was born in Morgan Hill , grew up on his family ’ s 30-acre ranch along Llagas Road , and maintained the ranch until he was well into his 60s .
According to Ed ’ s niece Danielle Enderson , “ My uncle was like a second dad . A real sweetheart who loved his family . The ranch brings back great memories . Prune , walnut and apricot trees , a few head of cattle , laying hens , sheep , pigs , dogs and cats . He taught us how to pick , cut and dry apricots , got us a horse , and let us drive the tractor around the ranch when we were teenagers .”
Ed loved the outdoors , working on the ranch , and occasionally hunting . He was known around town for his skill in fast-draw competitions . In addition , movies were an equally big passion of his .
In the 1940s , Ed took a side job as a movie projectionist at the original Granada Theater , located at 17330 Monterey Road , where The Hill is now . There , in 1948 , Ed met his soon-to-be wife , Irene , who was working the concession stand .
Ed and Irene were married in 1951 , and a year later , the new Granada theater opened at 17440 Monterey Road . At the new location , Ed ran the projection room while Irene ran the box office and concessions . Eventually , the Endersons became the Granada ’ s owners and operators .
In the early days , movie reels were ordered from a San Francisco distributor and shipped by Greyhound bus to San Jose where Ed picked them up . He ran two projectors and had to manually shift from one projector to another to show feature-length films .
“ Occasionally a celebrity would come to the theater . Like Kirby Grant , who starred in the television show called Sky King , and Robert Conrad from The Wild Wild West .
“ Uncle Ed and Aunt Irene were very well known in town ,” Danielle said . “ Irene was involved in the Chamber of Commerce and served as president at one time . She and Ed used to build a movie-themed float for the annual Fourth of July parade . The theme would depend on whatever big movie was playing that summer .”
“ Going to the movies was the thing to do for entertainment in downtown Morgan Hill . The Granada was it ,” Danielle said .
The Endersons ’ long run in the movie business attracted interest and support from community leaders who understood the theater ’ s value as a downtown gathering place for families . When the Endersons put the Granada up for sale in 2005 , Irene was 71 and Ed was 81 .
Ed and Irene were also long-time members of the Morgan Hill Historical Society . They were regulars at the annual Founders ’ Dinner where they were recognized as founders themselves . On Ed ’ s 90th birthday , his family rented the Hiram Morgan Hill House to celebrate .
Irene passed away in 2007 , and Ed passed away on January 28 , 2022 . They will be missed by many .
According to Wesley Kyles , who worked part time as a theater usher during the 1960s , “ The Granada was very welcoming . There were fresh flowers on the counter and always fresh popcorn from the popcorn machine . Ed and Irene were very community-minded . They showed Japanese films once a month , which was wonderful for our Japanese-American community in Morgan Hill . They even had live magic shows , which were popular .”
“ It was a big deal when they began to get Disney movies ,” Danielle said . “ Parents would drop off their kids at the Granada for hours on Sundays to watch back-to-back movies .
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