Friday, July 31, 2020

Ed's Travelogue & TRAIN TIME: British Columbia No. 2860 4-6-4 Royal HudsonApril 1978

1978 was a big year for me. It was a year of travel, sight-seeing in general, and the year I joined the Air Force. It was also the year I bought my first SLR camera - a Minolta XD-11 - and finally stopped using that Polaroid SX-70. However we still have some travels and some cool events to cover that were recorded with the Polaroid and I'm thankful to at least have had some kind of camera to take pictures with. 

We begin this year with the visit of of the Royal Hudson steam train No. 2860 to the Milwaukee area. I'm not quite sure where it landed: Milwaukee, West Allis, Waukesha??? but it wasn't too far away and I was able to snap these photos of this gorgeous train. Originally built for the Canadian Pacific Railroad in 1940, the engine was sold to the British Columbia government in 1973. British Columbia had it had it restored and began steam excursions in 1974. Today it is still owned by the BC government but is on loan to the West Coast Railway Association. Enjoy! Opa Fritz

Culled from one of the local newspaper's at the time

The SX-70 was unable to take panorama shots so I had prints made of the above three photos and literally cut, spliced, and taped them together to put in the photo album.

Golden Astronaut: Resupply Misssion Pt 2

Re-supplying the outer moons and planets has to start somewhere. here a fleet of NOVA rockets are loaded and ready to start the ball rolling. They'll land at one of several destinations with established ports and supply depots and their cargo unloaded. The cargo will then be sorted at the distribution hub and transferred to smaller ships for transport to the outer moons and worlds. Enjoy! Opa Fritz

I have to say this series was a tad dissappointing. My fault really. I've been wanting to install a scenic backdrop on my runway shelf layout for some time. That way the scene would have more impact - more 'oomph'. I do have the photo murals out in The Cave but just haven't gotten around to installing them yet. 

 I bought something like five of the G.I. Joe launch pads sepceficially for use with these NOVA rockets and whatever else would fit. So as a series of 'proof-of-concept' pix these do well enough. The next thing to tackle?  Besides the backdrop, trying to achieve more of a sense of distance between the runway and the pads - hard to do in only 12" (30.48cm) of space.

Marx radar from their Jetport playset, G.I. Joe launch pads, Golden Astronaut NOVA rockets, and a Dillon-Beck Wannatoy futurist car round out the toys in this shot

Here a Hot Wheels Road Ranger and a rocket (far right) from an unknown maker joins the crowd

Flash Gordon has settled down and is now a high ranking GS (Galaxy Space Fleet) Civilian. He's here somewhere on the tarmac inspecting the next fleet of rockets

Thursday, July 30, 2020

November 1977: Last Day At The Towne Theater, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Farewell To A Milwaukee Landmark

Some photos and articles of the Towne Theater. The lobby photos were taken on my last day there in 1977.

The Towne Theater. My sister worked there in the '50s and used to tell me stories about limousines pulling up to the door. It was my very first job and I worked there from 1971-1977. By the time I left they were in the third or fourth showing of the cut version of 'Deep Throat' and really terrible Dung (Kung) Foo movies! No limousines in 1977!!! Joe Reynolds was the manager and Kaye Vasos the Asst Mngr during that entire period from the '50s-'70s.

When I was stationed at Zweibrecken AB during the '80s I met a guy who said he worked recruiter support in the Federal Building on 3rd and Wisconsin. I gave him a wide-eyed look and asked "What Federal Building?" That's when he told me that entire block was leveled and they built a new office building for the guvmint. I knew from the articles my sister sent that the Towne was demolished but didn't realize the whole block was torn down. When I went home on leave sometime during the '80s that's when I saw it - DAMN! What an ugly POS they erected in its place!!!!

Towne stories/tidbits:

-One of my jobs at the Towne was to change the letters on the marquee. We had a very tall ladder. I would freak out the newbies who had to climb up there with me on the other side of the ladder (both sides had rungs) by shaking it LOL sick I know! 

-filling in for the regular cleaning crew (husband and wife team) when they went on vacation

.......taking a bus downtown late at night, going in around midnight and cleaning the theater all alone SPOOKY!

.......not realizing the buses stopped running about 1AM (or 2AM? I forget) and having to WALK home

-cleaning up sailors puke starting from the top of the stairs leading all the way down to the men's bathrom ('sailors' - the sailors from Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois would come up to Milwaukee on a weekend pas and get dropped off in front of our door!)

-going to other theaters on Wisconsin Ave to get HUGE bags of pre-popped popcorn because we ran out. (the old popcorn popping machine was still down in the basement but hadn't been used in many years)

-picking up movies from the distribution warehouse down on St Paul. good grief they were heavy! LOL

-three distinct levels in the auditorium: main floor, mezzanine, and balcony

-being in the projectionist booth while 'Jaws' was playiing and seeing the audience jump in unison hahahahahaha

-Frankie the dwarf selling newspapers on the corner news stand. Nice guy!

-BTW the signage out front was hand-painted by Peter Paris. He also did hand painted portraits of Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn for 'My Fair Lady' and artwork for a host of other movies. Those picture were generally inside the alcove, left and right, just prior to entering the theater through the doors.Taken in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Enjoy! Opa Fritz

The Towne Theater 717 N. 3rd St, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Notice the sign on the marquee: "COOLED BY REFRIGERATED AIR"
That sign had been removed by the time I started working there in 1971

 Some close-up shots

Those pictures you see flanking the entrance and over the entrance were hand painted by a local artist Peter Paris who did many fine paintings which accompanied some of the biggest movies of the era.

"That Touch of Mink" starring Cray Grant and Doris Day came out in 1962. Look how people dressed to go see a movie back then! By 1971 the downtown area of Milwaukee was starting to decline, it was a totally diffrent story and 'relaxed casual" was the order of the day. The "Towne Fryer" restaurant to the left was closed by 1971. We had access to it from inside the lobby and the space was used for storage.

The line stretched to the corner and probably around the corner

The entrance as seen from the inside left
As you entered the lobby this hand painted mural greeted you to the left, turn your head and straight on was the concession stand'

Back in the day, popcorn was popped in a big machine in the basement and automatically fed upstairs to the concession stand (at least that's what my sister told me). By 1971 all of our popcorn was bought from a vendor, pre-popped in large bags. Sometimes we would run out and the manager would call one of the other nearby thaters to borrow some. I would then have to walk to the theater and pick up anywhere from two-to-four big bags of popcorn I would get a lot of stares and remarks by people on the street LOL

As you enter through the main doors, this was to the direct right. That door led into the box office
Again, all I had at this time was the SX-70. To get these panorama shots I ordered copies made, then cut the copies and taped them together

Entering the auditorium access area. The theater had undergone at least one major renovation which stripped away a lot of its earlier fancy, gilded appearance. By 1971 it was quite plain. To the right is the autograph wall.

The thater had three levels: main floor, mezzanine, balcony. These stairs led to the mezzanine

A better view of the autogrph wall

Alan Ladd

Ann Dvorak

Bette Davis

Charles Buddy Rogers
Mary Pickford

Charles Laughton

Dinah Shore Montgomery
George Montgomery

Gene Autry

George Raft

Greer Garson

Harold Lloyd

Harpo Marx
Groucho Marx
Chico Marx

Hedy Lamarr

James Cagney

John Garfield

Louis Hayward

Paul Muni

another shot of Paul Muni's autograph

Robert Cummings

Rosalind Russel

Susan Hayward

Vivien Leigh

Requiem for an old theater

I quit the Towne in 1977 after six years but remained friends with the manager and even helped him do some work in out-of-town theaters the company owned, but by late 1978 I was in the Air Force.
The Towne closed briefly in 1979, then opened briefly as a Christian theater, but then closed again for the final time.

The entire block was leveled to make way for an office building
I couldn't scan the whole page at once so here it is split in two scans.)

The Reuss Federal Office Building occupies the entire block now

Courtesy: Google Street Views from 2010