See `City Lights' shine tomorrow at Carroll Baldwin Hall - for a nickel


October 11, 2002|By Susan Harpster | Susan Harpster,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IF YOU'RE in the mood for a walk down Memory Lane, Charlie Chaplin's classic 1931 silent movie, City Lights, is showing at Carroll Baldwin Hall tomorrow night. Admission to the film, presented by the Savage Historical Society, is 5 cents.

The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with a social hour. You can buy popcorn and baked goods while Columbia pianist Nancy Berla plays Scott Joplin rags. Wear period clothes if you like, take a camera and have your picture taken with a life-sized portrait of Chaplin, drawn by Jeannette Vollmerhausen of Savage.

The movie will start at 7 p.m. It runs about 81 minutes.

Savage residents have fond memories of the silent and "talkie" films shown at the community hall on weekends some 70 years ago.

"I remember it was Ellsworth Hackley started showing the movies," said Kenneth "Goose" Gosnell, 79. "Everybody in town knew him as `Boob' Hackley. Savage is famous for nicknames."

"It was wonderful then," said Elnore "Pootsie" Wheeler, 82, who remembers stopping for candy with her mother on their way to the movies.

"My mom said, `You sit right here.' She had this bottle of water and this little bag of candy and a kid on each side," Wheeler recalled. "She didn't want us moving about and bothering anybody."

After the movie, Wheeler would go downstairs to the bowling alley operated by her father, Bill Wheeler, for another snack.

"That's been many a day ago," Elnore Wheeler said. "My mother would take us down - me and my brother, Ralph - and she'd get us a hot dog and a soft drink. Then she'd take us on home."

Silent movies had subtitles that viewers could read.

Dramatic emphasis and sound effects were provided by musicians; they played musical scores distributed by the film companies.

Wheeler recalled the late Ester Stonsifer from Savage playing the piano. "She'd bang a little louder and tremble the keys, and make it a lot more exciting."

Gosnell saw a silent war film called Wings at Carroll Baldwin Hall in the late 1920s. His late father, James W. Gosnell, played the drums for this and many other silent movies .

Wings - which starred Charles Rogers and "It" girl, Clara Bow - was released in 1927. It was the first movie, and the only silent movie, to win an Academy Award for best picture.

"I never forgot it," Gosnell said. "Being a kid like I was and why it impressed me so much was this airplane - it flew right into a building. And my father, when that plane hit that building, he made real loud crash sounds on the drum. No one was expecting it. It scared some people so bad I think they swallowed their chewing gum. He was full of tricks like that."

Tomorrow's feature, City Lights, was written, directed and produced by Chaplin, who also starred in the film as his famous character, the Little Tramp.

The American Film Institute named City Lights one of the top 100 American movies of all time, and Chaplin as one of the 50 greatest American screen legends.

The 16-millimeter film is on loan from the Prince George's County Public Library, which houses one of the largest audio-visual collections in the country.

"We're trying to connect the old part of the community with the new people in the community," said Carolyn Adami, a member of the Savage Historical Society. "We want to have events throughout the year so people know who we are, so we can get in touch with more residents who can give us more information about the history of Savage."

Carroll Baldwin Hall is at 9035 Baltimore St. in Savage.

Information: 301-776-6924.

Preserving history

The Savage Historical Society meets at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at the Faith and Ministry Center, 9032 Baltimore St., Savage. The next meeting will be held Oct. 21. Admission is free, and meetings are open to anyone with an interest in the history of Savage.

The group was formed last year by Helen Rushing of Savage and the Rev. Galen Menne, pastor of United Methodist Church of Savage.

`I was in a historical society in Massachusetts back in the 1960s," Menne said. "I knew that this town had enough history here, that it was deserving of its own historical society."

The group is collecting old photographs, newspaper clippings, oral histories and other memorabilia.

"We're trying to preserve the town's history as well as educate people about the town's history," Menne said. "It's not easy to try to put together the past. You're like a detective or an investigator trying to put the pieces together."

Information: 301-725-7630.

New eagle

Congratulations to Devin Rhoad, 16, of Boy Scout Troop 602 for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. A Court of Honor was held Sept. 20 at Emmanuel United Methodist Church in North Laurel.

For his Eagle service project, Devin created a prayer garden for his church, St. Francis of Assisi in Fulton. Devin worked with church leaders and community volunteers who contributed more than 235 hours of time to the project.

Devin is a junior at Atholton High School and lives in North Laurel.

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