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In late July 1953, six weeks after my 14th birthday (June 20), I convinced my parents I was old enough and I boarded the Rock Island Rocket train and dared head out all alone, north from tiny Peoria, on a three-hour journey,to the forbidden (in Peoria) metropolis of Chicago with the sole purpose of buying a ticket for one of the first showings of “This Is Cinerama.” Movies were my way out of Central Illinois. I caught the matinee, and was thrilled beyond description. Emerging from the Palace theatre on Randolph Street, I was a different boy as I walked back on clouds to the train station for my return trip of 150 miles to Peoria. After that, Peoria could not contain me. Cinerama liberated me all the way to San Francisco. Like Pauline Kael, I lost it at the movies.
Jack Fritscher: My book “Gay San Francisco” featuring the Castro Theater as an icon on its cover is, yes, a trade paperback, but it is also the first GLBT book to be published simultaneously in a series of “free and green pdfs” at www JackFritscher com.
Now, in my eighth decade, I could care less if I sell a book; in fact, I am giving away free access to the entire text of “Gay San Francisco” to everyone at my site.
As a senior citizen who is an eyewitness to gay film history, my intent at this Cinema Treasures site is to join the online community and enhance Cinema Treasures' lore and history about the magic symbolism of theater marquees.
For a great 1990s photo of the still thriving and contemporary gay-leaning Castro Theater, see the art design cover of the new book “Gay San Francisco” at www.JackFritscher.com or www.Amazon.com Author Fritscher met his lover, and now legal spouse, Mark Hemry, under the marquee of the Castro Theater on May 22, 1978, the first night after the White Night Riot and the first birthday for Harvey Milk (actually held on Castro Street) after his assassination by Dan White. Spouses Fritscher and Hemry. San Francisco residents and eyewitness since 1970, are specialists in reporting the untold Tales of the City in their 2008 book “Gay San Francisco.”
For a great photo of the Castro Theater shot in the 1990s, see the cover of the new book “Gay San Francisco” at www.JackFritscher.com Author Fritscher met his lover, and now legal spouse, under the marquee of the Castro Theater on May 22, 1978, the first night after the White Night Riot and the first birthday for Harvey Milk after his assassination by Dan White. Fritscher and spouse Hemry are specialists in reporting the untold Tales of the City in their 2008 book “Gay San Francisco.”
Go to www.JackFritscher.com and, using the SEARCH feature, type in “Madison Theater” for an historical reference to the Madison Theater in Peoria, Illinois.
On V-E Day 1945, my father parked our car under the marquee of the Palace Theater,& put me, age six, on top of the car. It was incredible. Crowds filled the streets; traffic froze to a standstill; there was joy & laughter & crying & singing & from the top of the buildings across the street from the Palace, revelers threw rolls of toilet paper in rolling arcs streaming through the air. I can never forget how relieved we all were that the war was over. I enjoyed many stage shows & thousands of movies at the Palace. It was corporate greed & a direspectful blow to the culture of Peoria when the Philistine developer Ray Heinz tore down Peoria landmarks.