On this Day – June 19th 1972

See what was happening in the June 19th 1972 Reading Eagle-

(click to enlarge)

Hurricane Agnes hits the Florida coast, 14 people were killed. The hurricane would hit Berks County hard just three days later, wreaking havoc on the area.

This morning’s rain delayed until this afternoon the opening of Reading’s playgrounds, but it didn’t dampen things at Hillside Playground where these youngsters decided not to wait and improvised their box hockey equipment – sticks and a stone. Jeffery A. White, left foreground, 10, and Glenn A. Sell, right, 12, square off at the hockey box. Donald P. Boyer, squatting, 12, and Jeffery’s 12 year-old sister, Marcia, watch the contest while Todd D. Evangelista, left, 12, and Timothy L. Clawges, 14, find comfortable perches on the back of a park bench. – Eagle Photo

Schells in West Lawn, now the location of the Ranch House
In the theatre’s in June 1972

Bob Parmer in the Bad Habit AA/Fuel Altered Flat readies to go against Wild Willie Borsch in the Winged Express Saturday night at Maple Grove Dragway in the East vs. West Fuel Altered Challenge. Parmer set two Grove marks in this final run as the East was a 4-2 winner. Parmer, Wrightsville, had a 6.86/205.01 on this run.

On this Day – May 1st, 1973

Above the fold in the May 1st, 1973 Reading Eagle (click to enlarge)
Pee Wee Wallace in the Alabamian Vega Gets a slight jump on the Hill Brothers car Sunday at Maple Grove Dragway where eight funny cars competed in the annual Spring All-Pro Series of drag racing. Pete Hill had to shut off on this final run and Wallace sped to victory, his first in three years at Maple Grove. -Reading Eagle
Joseph A. Leiendecker, state game protector, helps Thomas C. Laucer and Danielle J. Drewett, both kindergarten pupils at Whitfield Elementary School, plant a crimson king maple tree on the school grounds. Looking on are Mrs. Richard E. Woodward, left, committee chairman, and Mrs. Robert E. Frederick, comittee member, both of the Whitfield Woman’s club which sponsored the tree planting Monday in observance of Arbor Day. – Eagle Photo
The current furniture trend
What’s in the theatre’s?

The Park Theatre – 1016 Penn St

The Park Theater opened November 11, 1926, and it was closed by a fire on May 19, 1978. The theater was demolished the following year.

James S. Maurer operated the theater as a X-rated movie and live burlesque house, and in 1964 he was arrested along with two strippers in a raid by the Reading police.  In the late 1950s and 1960s, the raids were fairly common.  Maurer eventually bought the theater building, circa 1975.  The building may have been leased to a New Jersey company in 1976, but Maurer was still involved in the management and operation of the theater.  Burlesque shows returned, and he was arrested in another raid in January 1977. On May 3, 1978, the city declared the Park Theater and the adjoining Daniel Boone Hotel “unfit for human habitation”.  Maurer appealed the ruling and both businesses stayed open, but shortly after, the fire destroyed everything.

1936

One of the featured strippers, “Jada” was connected to Jack Ruby and the Carousel Club in Dallas:

According to his 1993 Obituary,

James S. Maurer, died June 28, 1993, age 69.

President of James S. Maurer Investments, Inc.

Owned the Park Theater, the Park Luncheonette, the Frontier Bar, the Daniel Boone Hotel and the Park Bowling Alley.

In May, 1978, a fire destroyed the theater and damaged the hotel.  Two months later, a fire destroyed the hotel and taproom.

In January, 1979, charges of arson against Maurer were dropped following a hearing before a district justice.  He had been charged in December, 1978, with starting the blaze.

He was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for mayor in 1967.

He appeared several times before a federal grand jury in Philadelphia, which probed kickbacks to officials in Reading and Berks County.

Huge thanks to David Procter for putting together all of this information!

“The Racers” Screening at the Astor -1955

"The Racers" Screening at the Astor
Ralph Houck took this 1955 picture of the Astor Theatre – Photo Courtesy of Richard Houck

From Rotten Tomatoes;

The CinemaScope process gets a rugged workout in Henry Hathaway’s The Racers. Kirk Douglas stars as an Italian bus driver who dreams of entering the Grand Prix as a world-famous race car driver. Being Kirk Douglas, he achieves his goal, racing in all the major events around the globe. Dedicated to the philosophy of “winning is the only thing”, Douglas alienates his fellow racers and everyone else with whom he comes in contact. Only when he is on the verge of losing his sweetheart Bella Darvi does our hero put his priorities in order. Adapted from a novel by Hans Ruesch, The Racers was remade in a 60-minute version as Men Against Speed, an entry in the weekly TV anthology The 20th Century-Fox Hour.

“The Racers” was released on May 24th, 1955.

"The Racers" Screening at the Astor
The cars parked along the 700 block of Penn Street were a promotion for the screening – Photo Courtesy of Richard Houck

Images from “Berks Countians; The Wonderful Way We Live”

Movie Premiere Street Parade – Astor Theatre – 1948

Astor Theatre

Street parade for the opening of “Hollow Triumph” at the Astor theatre in Reading, Pennsylvania, where Lester Stallman is the manager of the theatre.

Were movie premiere parades common back in the mid century?