Comments from KarlB

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KarlB commented about Gem Theatre on Jun 13, 2006 at 11:25 am

For some reason I cannot open the link to the picture that you provide. I worked for the bank in 1955 when it was known as the Hamburg Savings Bank. the bank had the theatre and two store fronts razed to double the size of the bank building, and create a drive in banking window. The Gem was located in the middle of the block, just about half way between Crescent and Hemlock Sts. If the parking lot is still there that is where most of the Gem stood.

KarlB commented about Majestic Theater on Apr 25, 2006 at 2:56 pm

I want to inform everyone of a new development regarding the Majestic. Within the past few days the Majestic has been given an additional name. Lettering has been installed over the entrance doors under the marquee identifying the theatre as the Jennifer and David LeVan Center for the Performing Arts. As a little background, LeVan is a local man who climbed the ladder of success to become CEO of CONRAIL. He apparently was given a “golden parachute” when NS and CSX took control of CONRAIL which eliminated his position. He returned to Gettysburg and built a Harley-Davidson/Buell dealership, which seems to have increased the motorcycle visitation about 1000%. LeVan was a ‘68 graduate of Gettysburg College, and as a successful businessman, was asked some years ago to be a member of the college’s Board of Trustees. In all fairness to LeVan, motorcycles and the Majestic seem to have no connection to the proposed gambling casino, which is relatively new news here. The casino appears to be another of LeVan’s ideas however.

The Majestic’s renovation finally seems to be complete. The theatre auditorium has been restored to its former appearance. The lobby, however, has been completely redesigned and expanded to take up the space of the four store fronts which used to be there. The actual storefronts are still there, but three of the interiors are now part of the expanded lobby. The fourth seems to be filled by Mamie’s Cafe, a rather fancy restaurant, accessible from the theatre lobby.

The theatre seems to host one night stands of shows with ticket prices as high as $45.00 a person. I’m not sure there will ever be a movie shown in the original theatre again as these are all live shows, scheduled in for one night about every two weeks. Jeffrey Gabel, the Founding Executive Director, welcomes each audience before the show and informs them that the theatre is owned and operated by Gettysburg College.

A former gymnasium in the same building has been rebuilt to house two mini theatres which show the latest art films. The gym has a lot of history of its own in that in the 1950’s, it served as a pressroom for all of the reporters gathered in town while President Eisenhower recovered from a heart attack at his local farm.

I have attended one show at the renovated theatre, tickets were $37 each, and the show was very good. My personal opinion was that the seats were too small (narrow). I wish I had had a tape measure with me to actually measure the space between the chair arms. I don’t recall ever sitting in such narrow seats anywhere.

KarlB commented about Gem Theatre on Jan 2, 2006 at 8:43 am

Hi Tapeshare, I don’t know whether it was a typo or not, but I notice in your post of 12/20 you specifically mention 3335 Fulton St. This address was in the next block west, and if I recall correctly, it was at the foot of the el stairs to the Crescent St station. In the 1950’s this building was a cut rate store with two railroad flats above it. Friends of my parents rented one of the flats. It’s ironic that the woman of the family worked part time at the Gem box office. I seem to recall that this was an unusual building in that it had an el pillar right in the entranceway to the store. It has been a long time since I have been in the area and perhaps I remember the address incorrectly. I do know that I worked in a candy store in the evenings which I think was located at 3331 Fulton St. I seem to remember a bar and grill being located at 3333 Fulton St.

KarlB commented about Gem Theatre on Oct 4, 2005 at 5:34 pm

I was born in 1936 and lived right around the corner from the Gem Theatre. My earliest memories of the theatre date to approximately 1941. I attended hundreds of movies and shows at the theatre during the 1940’s and early 1950’s. The theatre fronted on Fulton St. The theatre was one story high, and if I recall correctly, had a boiler room in a basement at the west end or rear of the theatre. The emergency exits opened directly onto Fulton St. The most eastern emergency exit was at the front of the theatre in line with the screen. In other words the theatre auditorium faced east with the south or right wall facing Fulton St. The eastern emergency exit was approximately three feet below the street level indicating that the theatre floor sloped from west to east. It is my belief that there was no basement under this lowest portion or east end of the theatre.
The Hamburg Savings Bank of 3345 Fulton St bought the theatre circa 1954 and demolished it in 1955 along with two stores located west of the theatre. The bank was completely renovated, and doubled in size. Most of the area of the old theatre became a parking lot and a drive in window for the bank. I believe this still exists today although I have not been in the area in 25 years. This may explain the disappearance of the 3355 address. The only name I was ever aware of for this theatre was the name Gem.

KarlB commented about Majestic Theater on May 13, 2005 at 6:51 pm

I attended college in Gettysburg from 1957-61, and got to see many, many films at the Majestic. It was a beautiful theatre with a nice, but small balcony. Admission was 65 cents in those days, but most times I got in for free. The theatre advertised on the college radio station by giving free passes to the winners of mystery tunes contests. I was really into pop music from the lates 1940’s and early 1950’s and was a very frequent winner. I seemed to always have several free passes ahead. The theatre was renovated into a triplex in the 1980’s but is supposed to be restored to original appearance with this current renovation. The theatre building is right next door to the historic railroad station, but there are two storefronts (part of the theatre building) separating the actual theatre entrance from the station. Ironically, the railroad station is being restored at the same time (separate restoration), but will not be done as soon as the theatre.

KarlB commented about Gem Theatre on Mar 4, 2005 at 1:50 pm

My first visit to the Gem was during WWII and I always thought it was sort of an old theatre. I wonder if it is possible that it was the Adelphi Theatre originally, and it simply underwent a name change. I know of no one left who might have been around in that area back in those days.

KarlB commented about Gem Theatre on Feb 26, 2005 at 7:57 pm

Yes, that is correct. The theatre wall was right at the sidewalk on Fulton. There were no stores in front of any part of the theatre.

The King drugstore was at the other end of the block at Hemlock. There was another drugstore on the northwest corner of Fulton & Crescent called Mellor’s Drug Store. I think that may still be there under the turning el, although I’m sure Harold Mellor has passed on by now.

I had a brain lapse about the German Deli. It was owned by George Rusch, not Deutch. Sorry about that.

KarlB commented about Gem Theatre on Feb 26, 2005 at 5:38 pm

I can tell you that there were no stores in front of the Gem. It was a plain solid wall with the fire exit doors for the whole frontage of the theatre except at the west end where the marquee, box office and entrance were located. It was not that big a theatre so the plain wall was not that long

The first store to the east of the theatre was a German Deli in my day, and it was owned by a George Deutch (sp). His home was at 16 Campus Place. My dad, who was a pig-headed Dutchman said that George was a pig-headed Dutchman too.

I can’t remember whether there were three or four stores east of the theatre but I do remember that the store at the corner of Hemlock & Fulton was a drug store owned by a man named King. It was converted to a store front bank for Manufacturers Trust.

There were two stores to the west of the theatre whose facia seemed to be of the similar constuction material as the Hamburg Bank. One of the stores, right next to the theatre, was a photography studio owned by Julius Berzin (sp) which I think was a derivitive of Berzinsky (sp). He lived at 11A (should have been 13)Campus Place. These two stores as well as the theatre were razed to increase the frontage of the bank and create the drive-in banking window.

There was a very narrow alley behind these buildings, just wide enough for one person to walk between Crescent & Hemlock. I don’t recall any exits from the north side of the theatre into this alley. I think all of the theatre exits were on the south side of the building onto Fulton St.

Not that it matters, but Hamburg Savings became Home Savings for a period of time before it became Greenpoint Savings. Old neighbors tell me that this was in the late 80’s or early 90’s.

I am surprised at the 1920 date for Hamburg. I was always under the impression that that branch of Hamburg opened in 1936.

KarlB commented about Gem Theatre on Feb 26, 2005 at 9:36 am

As I said at the Embassy site the Adelphi name is a strange one to me. I just have no knowledge of it whatsoever.

Cypress Hills St is a different story. I am old enough to remember when it was a two lane cobblestone road between the cemetaries. The first paving was a thin coat of blacktop laid on top of the cobblestones. The blacktop wore off and the cobblestones showed through. It was always a narrow winding road. I am surprised to read that it is now a four lane road. They must have had to move some cemetary plots to do that.

I started to work for the Hamburg Savings Bank in Feb 1954, right after I graduated Franklin K Lane HS, My first job was bank messenger between the three offices, I would ride the B13 bus from Fulton & Crescent to Wyckoff & Gates every weekday, The trip through Cypress Hills St was impressive. I would not have wanted to be the bus driver.

The Hamburg branch manager knew of my fondness for the Gem and took me in there one afternoon shortly before demolition began. The theatre had been closed for months. It was very sad to see my favorite theatre in that condition. It looked exactly as if it had just closed except that the projectors had been removed. The entire screen end (east end) was inaccessible due to standing water on the theatre floor. The theatre entrance was at sidewalk level at the west end but the slope of the auditorium floor put the screen end (east) about two feet below sidewalk level. This always puzzled me because I thought there was a basement under the theatre. I did not see the basement during my tour but i decided that it must have been flooded as well.

I am sorry now that I did not snoop around more and try to find some souvenirs. Maybe some old one sheets or something. I was on the clock and it was my big boss that was giving me the quick tour. I think we were in there for ten minutes at the most.

KarlB commented about Embassy Theatrer on Feb 26, 2005 at 9:01 am

I’m sorry but I can’t help with the Adelphi Theater. From what I have seen at this site there were several theaters that changed their names over the years. I was never aware of that. Both the Embassy and the Gem always always went by the names that I knew.

KarlB commented about Gem Theatre on Feb 25, 2005 at 5:12 pm

My parents mentioned to me when I was very young that the 50 houses built on Campus and Adler Place were built on land that used to be the campus of Adelphi College. I assumed from that that Adler was a derivitive of Adelphi. The houses were built circa 1918. I don’t know anything further about the college. I only ever knew the Gem being called the Gem.

I must be truthful about this. I was born in 1936 but did not live on Campus Place until I moved there in 1941. I moved out in 1957 but my parents continued to live there until 1979-80.

KarlB commented about Gem Theatre on Feb 25, 2005 at 4:53 pm

Several years ago I found a bookmark in one of my childhood books that I thought everyone might get a kick out of.

It is a 3 & ½ X 5 & ½ program card from the Gem Theatre for the week of July 23,

July 23,24,25 Sun, Mon. Tues.
Nancy Goes to Rio starring Jane Powell & Ann Sothern &
Buccaneer’s Girl starring Yvonne DeCarlo & Robert Douglas
Cartoon, Screen Actor News

July 26, 27 Wed. Thurs,
Wabash Avenue starring Betty Grable & Victor Mature &
One Way Street starring James Mason & Marta Toren
Cartoon, Stop, Look, Listen News

July 28,29 Fri, Sat.
Love Happy starring The Marx Bros & Ilona Massey &
Quicksand starring Mickey Rooney, Jeanne Cagney & Peter Lorre
Cartoon, Happy Tots News
Every Fri. and Sat. Mat.
Atom Man vs Superman

One half of one side of the card is an ad for The Norwood Laundry which was not anywhere near Norwood Ave but was located on the south side of Fulton St between Hemlock St and Autumn Ave.

The card advertises the Gem being located at Fulton & Crescent, being air conditioned and their phone number was AP7-8484

The card does not show a year but using the perpetual calendar from the almanac the day and dates match 1950.

Some memories, huh!

KarlB commented about Embassy Theatrer on Feb 25, 2005 at 4:27 pm

The Embassy Theatre was the theatre where I first saw the original “Psycho” movie during the summer of 1961. It was the most violent movie I had seen up till that time and it really made an impression on me. I did not attend many movies at the Embassy preferring to go to the Gem which was closer to home. After the Gem closed most of my movie going was to the Merrick and Valencia in Jamaica.

The Embassy Carriage Shop was across the street and further west, closer to Logan St. The Carriage Shop was a Lionel Train dealer so I was in there very often.

Does anyone remember Sonny’s Sport & Hobby Shop? It was a very small store in the Embassy Theatre building with an entrance on Fulton St. I bought many a 10 cent balsa wood airplane kit from Sonny in the 1940’s.

I was surprised to read that the Embassy was razed. I have not been in the area in many years, but had been told that the theatre was converted into a Senior Citizens Center.
Was it a conversion or was the theatre actually razed?

KarlB commented about Gem Theatre on Feb 24, 2005 at 6:42 pm

I grew up in the 1940’s on Campus Place, a one block long residential street immediately north of Fulton St, where the Gem was located. The Gem was located on the north side of Fulton between Crescent & Hemlock. The Gem was in the middle of the block with a bank and two stores to its west and three of four more stores to its east. The marquee and entrance was at the west end of the theatre’s frontage. There were two fire exits from the theatre onto Fulton to the east.

The theatre seating was on one floor facing east with the screen at the extreme east end of the theatre. There were two side aisles and one center aisle. IIRC the restrooms were on either side of the projection booth on a second floor at the west end of the theatre. There was no balcony.

The theatre closed in 1954 and was purchased by the Hamburg Savings Bank which had their Cypress Hills Branch on the corner of Fulton and Crescent. The theatre and the two stores to its west were razed in 1955, allowing the bank to double its size through extensive renovations. A very fancy drive-in banking window and parking lot was created at the east side of the renovated bank. I have not been in the area in 25 years, but if this parking lot still exists, it is the approximate location of the Gem.

I attended many Saturday Matinees at the Gem in the 1940’s when the children’s admission was 12 cents. I followed many chapter serials at the Gem such as “The Black Whip” & “The Purple Monster Strikes”. Kids always had to sit on the south side of the center aisle. I really felt grown up when I went to an evening show with my parents and could sit on the north side!

When I started dating, I would take my date to the Gem. The Gem always had double features and changed their program three times a week. After the Gem closed, I would take my date on the el to Jamaica to either the Loew’s Valencia of the Skouras Merrrick.

I have many fond memories of the Gem as the movie house where I saw such classics as “Bambi”, “Meet Me in St Louis,” “Titanic” and “Showboat”.