The phone rings. You answer. It is Hollywood on the line. They need your help. You and I
would say, "Sure, what do you need?" dreaming of some piddling behind-the-scenes or research job. Some of you may be
thinking you could get a job as an extra, or be looking for your big break. Well, they didnít call me, though they might
even have called you or a friend. They did call my friend John. Universal studios needed help. They needed "film".
John had been a movie collector since high school. These were not the yet-to-be invented videotapes we know so well. These were 16mm celluloid films. Unfortunately, I lost contact with John after the mid-60s, so I donít know the nature of this request. But thanks to the Manchester Journal-Inquirer I have learned that John had a collection of over 500 titles and was, evidently, able to help out.
One of Johnís earliest acquisitions was a film about Charles Lindbergís famous flight filmed in CinemaScope. Yes, John even had the special 16mm anamorphic lens needed to show wide screen CinemaScope movies in his upstairs movie theatre. Not having any siblings, John was able to use the entire upstairs of his familyís cape cod style house.
You may remember John. He and I were members of the MHS Projectionists Club. Our responsibilities involved running tape recorders and movie projectors for MHS teachers.
This function probably doesnít exist today. What teacher doesnít know how to run a cassette audio recorder or a VCR? My youngest child, Christy, graduated from high school in 2000. She might have liked to have been in our Projectionists Club had she attended high school in the 50ís. But while she was in school the technological challenges baffling the teachers included 24+ channel soundboards, intricate lighting rigging and controls, and PowerPoint presentations. But Christy figured it all out and is still called back to work on special programs. What changes!! Iím a bit jealous.
High tech media equipment in the 1950ís included such wonders as filmstrips, opaque projectors, tape recorders and a technological breakthrough Ö our new RCA 16mm projector. The filmstrips and new low fidelity single track Eicor tape recorder (quarter inch, reel to reel, tape running 7.5 inches per second) can be seen on page 72 of the 1952 Somanhis. There were about 30 members of the club that year. Miss Kellogg and Mr. Spencer were the faculty sponsors. Our pride and joy RCA projector can be seen on page 67 of the 1953 Somanhis. There are only 19 people in this picture.
John and I also worked together as ushers at the State and Circle Theatres. This was the best job, in Manchester, for John as it put him in touch with the industry he loved. Every marquee message from 1953 to at least summer 1955 was likely put up by either John or myself.
He also loved the recording industry. His collection of recordings included cylinders and the first thick, flat, gramophone records. And he had cylinder and gramophone players, too. I donít remember any 78s of recent manufacture in his collection. He did collect 45s and LPs, though. When I was in my final years at Boston University, John allowed me to tape many of his cylinder and gramophone recordings for Melody Museum, my weekly ten-minute radio program on the universityís FM radio station, WBUR.
I was greatly disappointed when I got my Manchester High School directory a few years ago. I wanted to reconnect with my old friends. John Foster was listed as "Deceased". According to the Social Security Death Index a John Foster, born in 1936, died January 1, 1996 in Manchester.
Dick Jenkins recently told me that the local Manchester Journal Inquirer paper had published a picture of John and requested information about him. Several people responded, including our classmate Ken Burkamp. The photo shown here of John in his theatre was provided by the Manchester Historical Society. They inherited the 1962 photo from the Manchester Evening Herald.
The only calls I ever get from Hollywood are the messages on TV. They want me to go to the movies. I make a great paying spectator. See you there.
David Sasiela was a fellow classmate and close friend of John Foster.
The photograph appearing in this article was provided by the Manchester Historical Society
Reproduced 2011 from www.mhs1955.com with permission of its webmaster Dick Jenkins.
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