Before cable telly was in viewers homes, major events would be broadcast to select venues via closed-circuit television. The major downtown venues all had permanent television installations in the 1950's, but the one in the Allen was long gone by 1972. A temporary set up was used instead, a sheet of plywood was placed on a couple rows of seats house center, and the projector would be set up on a stand on top. The main picture sheet wasn't used, it was huge, way too big. Instead, a smaller television screen, about 20' x 20', was dropped, and pulled back a bit to prevent keystoning. This like the larger screen, dated back to the Warner years and an earlier television installation. These events usually drew a decent sized crowd, and this was no different, probably around 1,800 - 2,000 of the 2,860 seats were filled. I worked the main floor concession stand and we sold a lot of soda and corn before the fight, and not much once the fight began. This one went 15 rounds with Ali winning by unanimous decision.
Thursday, March 31, 2022
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Monday, March 28, 2022
We made another visit to Bernie's Train Shop, 400 Church Street in Jessup, on Saturday. Such a great store, huge selection of N, O and HO items, always worth a visit. If you like trains, you'll be in heaven the minute you walk through the front door.
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Saturday, March 26, 2022
The second day at the Allen was a little different than the first.
I remember boxing popcorn, lots of popcorn, it came in big bags of prepopped, must have filled 4-500 boxes. I don't remember doing much else, eventually I'd develop an aversion to it, although back then it was a cheap snack, along with copious amounts of Pepsi-Cola. I learned the economics of popcorn here, it was cheaper than the boxes I was putting it in, pretty much the same for the soda, 7 oz cups cost more than the Pepsi it was poured in.
The other things I recall were how loud this was, it was deafening, and there were 2,860 people smoking marihuana. I was a 15-year-old freshman at Central Catholic who'd never been at an event like this, the minute the house lights went out, people would light up. It's illegal to smoke in theatre auditoriums, but no one seemed to be alarmed, even uniformed policemen who provided security for this "concert." I'd never been exposed to anything like that, and I remember talking to a policeman who said, "no big deal kid, and if you tried arresting anyone in here there'd be a riot." This was a very different message than what they were sending in school, or on telly. It would be hard to imagine Pete Malloy saying something like that on Adam-12. But this wasn't telly, it was real life in downtown Cleveland, and quite typical of rock shows in that era as I would soon find out.
The money raked in at the concessions is what was pretty much funding the Playhouse Square Association during that era. The memberships Bert LeGrande would bring in at $125 each would ebb and flow, making that concession money an important income source. Most of these shows were one-nighters put on by outside promotors, A Friend, Belkin, KDJ, etc., with the theatre rental monies, $800 weekdays, $1,000 weekend going to Millcapp Corp, the building's owners. Providing ushers and use of the marquee along with percentages of ticket sale through the Allen BO were other sources of revenue. The Playhouse Square Association was pretty much leading a hand to mouth existence at this point, with two of the four theatres facing demolition. Most people at the time thinking it was sheer folly to think these decrepit old buildings would ever be entertainment venues again.
Friday, March 25, 2022
Fifty years ago tonight, Richard Harris appeared on the Allen Theatre stage.
The previous afternoon I had walked in off the street looking for a job, after talking to Ceil Hartman she told me to come tomorrow at 10 AM. So the following morning I made my way to Playhouse Square, as best as I can recall I dusted seats in the balcony, and filled popcorn boxes in the afternoon. The main cast of characters were: Ray Shepardson, founder of the Playhouse Square Association; Ceil Hartman, business manager; Smitty - Ralph Smith, a general handyman; Veralynne Bosko, Smitty's friend and volunteer; Bert LeGrande, memberships: Victor Villimas, tickets, publicity, etc.; Bugs - Solomon Alexander, maintenance; and a girl named Cinnamon who was in charge of the volunteers, there weren't many, in fact some of only ones were a group of Garfield Heights HS seniors that called themselves "The Next Generation." A group of Veralynne's friends would also be around to assist: Poe - Ken Plocica, Kevin McAndrew, Chuck Fleming. and Pete Webber, and possibly a couple others. I didn't meet all these people the first day, and a couple didn't stick around too long, while I stuck around for the next eight years.
It was probably around six when Ray appeared and shoved a cash box into my hands and said "you're in charge" indicating the mezzanine concession stand, it was the second brief encounter I had with Ray that day, it would be a few days later when he explained what the overall goal was, restoring the theatres, and the nightlife in that grim section of downtown, where the streetlights didn't even work. I had no idea what anything cost, fortunately Ray's longtime friend Gorden Bell appeared to take charge. Everything, popcorn and soda, cost 25¢ in that long ago era. I seem to remember biz was slow early, but brisk at intermission. The mezzanine concession stand didn't last past that spring. The main stand downstairs where the Tea Room once was raked in the big biz, 5-600 boxes of popcorn and over 1,000 sodas. That concession revenue was the slim lifeline that kept the Association afloat during this time.
Thursday, March 24, 2022
A short-lived nightclub at 1748 East 22nd Street, which had formally been the Plato, and previously a bowling alley.
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Monday, March 21, 2022
Sunday, March 20, 2022
Saturday, March 19, 2022
Fifty years ago, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 19, 1972.
Friday, March 18, 2022
Thursday, March 17, 2022
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
Monday, March 14, 2022
Sunday, March 13, 2022
Royal Way on the U of S campus, March 2017, haven't been able to go through here in years. A shame considering how much money we spent here. We used to like to walk over for coffee on Sunday afternoon, almost wonder if we'll ever be able to do that again.