Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Razing of the Amuz-U

On East Locust, what's left of the Amuz-U is razed in the mid-1990s. This is a recent animation I did, made from a friend's photograph, which I'm hoping to shoehorn into the "Desolation" segment of the film. My secret wish: that a demolition photo with that horrible aluminum siding removed so we can see if the original archway was still there...

Two Views of the Garden

Here are a couple of very nice architectural renderings of the Garden on Locust, from a full-page newspaper ad that ran during the theatre's opening. As you'll see, Norman T. Vorse (architect of many an old Des Moines building) was behind this one.

When A.H. Blank was feted downtown for his years in the exhibition business, he was presented with a cake made to look just like his beloved Garden! (I'll see if I can get the photo of it for posting...)

The Latest (And Very Late, At That!)

Sorry for the long delays in posts, everybody.

Two reasons:
1. Yes, I've been working on the film. It's much longer than I'd originally anticipated...close to an hour now...and I've had the very pleasant "misfortune" to keep getting cool new material just when I think I'm done! But I can't complain: between Sarah Oltrogge and her friends at the Historical Society and Des Moines Library, and the Jewish Historical Society in Waukee, I've gotten some incredible new photos that I've been integrating into the film. It just takes time--and there's only one of me. But I just got the final batch of photos (mostly of the Blank family) from JHS, and I've decided that's going to complete it.

2. The blog here was overrun with spam, and the earlier version of Blogger just wasn't cutting it as far as ease goes in getting rid of it all. Just spent a bunch of time cutting all of those needless ads and non-sequitur comments, and Blogger has updated their spam control, so let's hope the garden is now weeded out for good!

More about the film: perhaps the most exciting--then disappointing--event was the Grinberg footage that I thought I had finally tracked down to Grinberg Film Library's latest location, which was (conveniently) in Chatsworth, right here in the Valley. After a lengthy search, it turned out that the clips I wanted had deteriorated beyond usability--so they're just plain gone. These were on the flammable and easily-degradable nitrate stock (as opposed to what we've had since, which is called 'safety film'), and it often can turn to goo or explosive powder, even if stored carefully. It's a sad loss, as this would have given us glimpses of the "Career" premiere downtown (and probably the big after-show dance at Drake Stadium), the opening of the Blank Children's Hospital, and footage of A.H. Blank receiving the "LOOK Magazine Exhibitor of the Year" award in the early 1950s. (An interesting side note to this: the JHS has in their archive a gigantic, professionally-made scrapbook filled with mementos from Blank's career, carefully presented at that time to make a bid for Blank's nomination for this award. I will try to describe it more fully soon--it's amazing.)

On the upside, KCCI is allowing us use of their footage of A.H. Blank (with Bill Riley!) at the opening of the Des Moines Zoo--you can see this footage now if you want to on YouTube.

Once again, sorry it's been so long, but I've been trying to get this film put to bed so that we can finally all take a look at it sometime soon!

Thanks for your patience; check back again soon!