Gone But Not Forgotten
<v Narrator>In this era of office towers and high-risehotels, it's hard to imagine that there was ever a time when the tunes of Tommy Dorsey mixed through the crashing surf of the oceanfrontand you could dance three dances under the stars for only a quarter. If you dropped a dime in the farebox, you could ride just about anywhere. And two bits bought you the ride of your life. Jazz build onto Church Street on the corner of two five and Jay and the pride of the Yankees battled "Dem bums" from across the water in a wooden ballpark name for a ginger ale bottling company. <v Narrator>These things all took place in Hampton Roads in the 1940s and 50s. And today they are all gone, but not forgotten. <v Narrator>Before the days of the expressways and two-cargarages, if you wanted to get anywhere, you had to take the streetcar. At the age of 18. John Slaughter went to work for the Virginia Electric and Power Company, which ran the streetcars in Norfolk. He worked his way up to Motorman during the Second World War when the busiest Norfolk route was Hampton Boulevard.
<v John Slaughter>The best I can remember, I used to like work at the naval base because the sailors were always easy to get along with. No problem much. Most people nowadays, though, don't know the Navy as well as I did. <v Narrator>Some trolley routes, head-turningcircles like the Granby Street route to Ocean View. But on many others, the line just ended. So, to turn around. The conductor would have to walk to the other end of the trolley, flip the seatbacksover and head back the way he came. <v John Slaughter>He had to take what they call the controller handle and the brake. And you had you control the your speed and you break it. It was a break just as it said you carried a brake handle and a controller handle with you to the other end, put it in here. And when you got ready to go. You hold it a nine notches on it. In other words, it was nine-speed. So one, two, three going up to nine.
<v Narrator>Streetcars were great fun for kids. The favorite Halloween trick was to pull the trolley off the wire and run. This brought the car to a hop and a frown from the motorman who had to get out and reattach the trolley. An enterprising kid with a lot of hustle could often catch a free ride. <v John Slaughter>One day we would be down and they'd catch hold of the one the back there. The opening and ride on the back of the streetcar. And somebody, some passenger would come up and tell me, you got, got some boys back there riding on the back the car, they're hanging on. So I'd stop and go back and said, boys, you don't want to do that. You're liable to fall off and get hurt badly so they'd jump off and disappear. <v Narrator>There are many people who fondly remember streetcars. Jim Spencer is a rail enthusiast and collector of streetcar memorabilia who remembers when VETCO would put on extra cars to carry people to and from Oceanview Park.
<v Jim Spencer>They had a coupling that would couple on to the end of the motorized car and they look a little different than a regular street car, they only used them in the summer. And so they hanged side curtains on them that would roll up. <v Jim Spencer>And one long running ball on each side that the motorman used to go back and forth to collect the trash. <v Narrator>As the Second World War loomed closer, the entire region of Hampton Roads was conscripted, each of the cities rolled up its shirtsleeves and joined the war effort. The huge influx of service personnel during the war years put a strain on public transit or Hampton Roads residents. It became nearly impossible to get a seat on the streetcars. <v John Slaughter>They were really crowded. No question about that. <v John Slaughter>And you'd just pack them on as long as you can put them on there because I have as a boy seeing sailors riding on the top of the streetcar because they couldn't get anywhere else to ride.
<v Narrator>Dorothy Wylie's husband served in the Navy during the war and she and her daughter lived in Ben Morrell. She remembers the trials of riding the streetcars. <v Dorothy Wylie>I know one time I was standing there with my father-in-law and my little girl and the streetcarsjust kept coming and wouldn't stop. So. They- finally one of them did stop. Some fellow on there had told the fellow conductor, if he would stop, he would get me on there, he says, I will get that lady on there so they stopped and they squeezed me on there and i had my daughter in my arms, and one of them said ok let me have your daughter. And he stood there with his hands on the handles of the seats guarding me. Because you wouldn't believe the sailors and soldiers that would make passes. You didn't. It didn't matter if you had a baby or not, they would still make passes and we really had to fight them off.
<v Narrator>The last streetcarran in Norfolk on July 11th, 1948, just after midnight. The riders on the last car that night tore it to pieces looking for souvenirs. They took everything straps, posters, light fixtures, the police record and the car was towed to Ocean View, its final destination. Shortly after the last run, the derelict fleet of streetcars, which had been replaced by busses, was dismantled and burned. <v Narrator>Crowding on the streetcarswas not the only indication in Hampton Roads that a war was on. In the early 40s, due to the vast influx of military personnel and war workers, the city nearly tripled in size. Ken Reightler senior who served on the aircraft carrier Shangrila, was a young Navy recruit in 1942 who arrived in Norfolk from Baltimore on the CNO steamer. <v Ken Reightler Sr.>I can remember the trolley cars waiting for Serat at City Hall Avenue and Granby, I think, right at the Monticello Hotel and the Templer Music Store across the street. And we piled cars.
<v Ken Reightler Sr.>I was only 17. Everybody else was older and I was so I just sort of followed along. <v Ken Reightler Sr.>And they straggle us into the cars and on out Hampton Boulevard, into the naval training station. And from then on, I didn't get to see much of Norfolk until I had the one boot liberty went down. I remember, Granby Street was Wall to Wall Military and also the Navy. Why was the place where everybody went. We went in there and looked around and got herself squared away and immediately removed our pants out of our leggings so that we wouldn't they wouldn't think we were boots. Course, the wrinkled pants legs didn't give us away or anything like that. And I'm sure the shore patrol didn't recognize that skinned haircut we had. <v Narrator>Entertaining the sea of incoming sailors became a crusade among the citizens of Norfolk, chaperon tea dances were frequent and good. Clean entertainment was provided every night at the Navy YMCA. But the sailors had no trouble finding their own entertainment. Many headed for Norfolk's East Main Street and the Gaiety Burlesque Theater.
<v Narrator>Lloyd White worked backstage at the Gaiety. <v Lloyd White>It was a small backstage. <v Lloyd White>It had. It didn't. It did not have many lines. It was a penthouseand didn't have many lines. And we would change the scene we every week because it had a new burlesque queen every week. I can use that word. <v Narrator>Many burlesque queens performed at the Gaiety, including Rosella Rose, Georgia Southern Rosita Royce and her doves, Cashmere Bouquet and Patsy Garrett. <v Ken Reightler Sr.>My favorite was Patsy Garrett because she was a big redhead I was ready and it doesn't seem like now what? My nickname in those days was Red. So Georgia, Patsy Garrett. And there was another one, I think, named Georgia Southern, but Rosalynn Rose was was the headline. <v Ken Reightler Sr.>And they just had different gimmicks. What I like, quite frankly, wasn't just the believe it or not, it wasn't just the flesh, the girls. It was the bananas, the top bananas and second bananas and some of their skits
<v Ken Reightler Sr.>I'd heard friends of mine up in Baltimore telling me about them and they were still doing the same thing. It's just like was burlesque with a little naughtiness in it. <v Lloyd White>There was a button up front and the button, the doorman, when the state inspector would come in, he would push the button because the state inspector had to pass. And he'd push the button backstage to me and I would go tell the girl, keep it on and keep your G-string on tonight. <v Narrator>East Main Street held more than just the Gaitey Theater. It was littered with amusement parlors, tattoo parlors and saloons. In 1961, the Gaitey was torn down, as was most of East Main Street, to make way for a new Norfolk as the city attempted to clean up its tarnished World War Two image bank headquarters and four star hotels now stand for the Gaitey. The Shamrock, that crazy cat and many others served as a diversion for our boys in uniform.
<v Narrator>While Novick's east main street was earning the city its reputation as the armpit of the Navy, Church Street was a bustling center of black entertainment. Many of the greatest entertainers of our century pass through Norfolk to play at the Adickes Theater. It was named for Crispus Adickes who was killed during the Boston massacre of 1770. The theater was built in 1919 by a young black architect named Harvey Johnson Sr.. Johnson's son remembers coming to the theater as a child. <v Harvey Johnson Jr.>I would always come at the time that the Westerns would be on. Tom Nix and all those fellas, that organist could keep up with the action and actually do create the sounds- the horses, the gunshots. But you needed to know what the people were saying, And the organist just couldn't do that. So that the screen would have on it the words that have been said by whichever character. <v Harvey Johnson Jr.>You had to learn how to read, if you couldn't read, you were sitting beside somebody who could read. Kids began reading early during those days. I know I did.
<v Narrator>By the 1930s, the theater became a movie house known as the Booker-T, it was a first class theater and the management had a strict dress code. They were very particular about who they would admit. Ida Fitzgerald worked as a cashier at the Booker T. <v Ida Fitzgerald>I would sell 'em the ticket and then get to the door. And I knew then that they weren't going in. And so I just pushed their money aside fot the price that a ticket and be waiting for then the manager sent them back. <v Narrator>The Addicks still stands on the corner of Church Street and Virginia Beach Boulevard. The once glorious theater is boarded up and sits dark. The city is working with a group of citizens who are trying to renovate the historic theater. <v Harvey Johnson Jr.>I hope that something will come of this. I'm just sure that this theater can be a blessing to the community in terms of its cultural possibilities. <v Harvey Johnson Jr.>And I'd like to see it woven into the fabric of the cultural activities of Tidewater.
<v Narrator>In the 1940s and 50s, Norfolk, like all the cities and Hampton Roads, was segregated, adequate housing for the poor and blacks was in short supply and slums were abundant due to strict segregation laws. Black entertainers who came to play the Addicks had difficulty finding accommodations, but they were always welcome at the Plaza Hotel on 18th and Church Street. They would stay at the hotel even if they were performing as far away as Charlotte or Greensboro, North Carolina. <v Narrator>The plaza was owned and operated by Bonnie MacEachin. <v Bonnie MacEachin>I have to say this, that they would say that it was a home away from home. <v Bonnie MacEachin>They named it the home away from home. And if they were in 50 mile radius or 75 miles, you know, they would drive 100 miles to get right back there to sleep that night and even if they had to get up the next day and move out. <v Narrator>The list of great entertainers who stayed at the plaza reads like a who's who of contemporary entertainment. Duke Ellington called Bonnie [his satin doll] because of her grace and hospitality.
<v Bonnie MacEachin>People like Duke Ellington would order from New York the steaks he wanted. My husband would [unclear] call have them cut for him, have from him ready for him when he got there. They set up all night long, rehearse. Sometimes he would make songs that was recorded like Yackety Yack by the Coasters that was made right in the hotel. <v Narrator>As Church Street changed the clientele of the hotel changed. <v Narrator>The plaza burned in 1980. A dry cleaners now occupies the bottom floor. The third floor was never repaired after the fire. <v Bonnie MacEachin>There was a crying time for me that particular day on December the 3rd in 1980, I had surgery and I wasn't able to do much seeing, but I can never forget the tears that flowed that day when it was burned and they told me the next day that I wouldn't be able to operate it again. I'd have to tear it down and rebuild. <v Narrator>The center of black social life on the peninsula was the corner of 25th Street and Jefferson Avenue in Newsome News.
<v Narrator>The corner has changed quite a bit today. But in the 40s and 50s, it was known to the locals as two five and Jay. <v Lillian Lovett>Young man who came here in the service, were always told to go to two, five and Jay. That was a popular place. Of course the US [unclear] right down the street. We had a lot of young men who were lonely and didn't have a lot to do after thier chores were over for the day. And it was. Pretty active and safe. We had no problems. We had no problems. Nothing. Nothing like today. where you're afraid to walk the streets. <v Narrator>Great music wasn't the only distraction for Hampton Roads residents. Our region was home to many sports teams, including several Negro semi pro baseball teams. Thomas Burt, John Allen and General Venable all played for the Norfolk Tars. <v John Allen>Oh, we had fans. <v Thomas Burt>Dedicated, they would follow us in cars going to different places.
<v Thomas Burt>There wasn't anything to do. You know, people come from church Sunday. They was finished, no activities. So they were looking forward to baseball games and stuff like that. <v Narrator>Burt keeps a Hall of Fame wall in his home. He tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the early 50s and went on to play professionally in the Negro Leagues. But he and his teammates were born too soon for a shot at the majors. <v General Veneble>You had to be a Robinson or a Mays, you had to be that good in order to- there's a lot of fellows, around here who could have made Major Leagues, just never did get the chance. <v Narrator>Three minor league baseball teams played in the region. The Portsmouth Cubs, the Norfolk Tar's, which was a Yankee farm club, and the Newport News Dodgers. <v Narrator>All three were part of the highly competitive Piedmont League, the Tars played at Baine field, which was replaced by High Rock Park named for the ginger ale bottling company. The park was renamed Meyers Field after a local dentist, Eddie Myers, purchased the park.
<v Ray White>It was filled in ground and much of the fill they put in originally contained tin cans, empty tin cans. <v Ray White>And during some of the heavy rain, then the weight of the dirt, the cans collapsed and the field sank about three or four feet. Well, fortunately, the field was so logged they could move the fences in beyond the holes and go on playin'. <v Narrator>Ray White pitched a few years in the Yankee farm system for the Tars before he became their manager in the 1940s. He has the dubious honor of knocking out Lou Gehrig during a 1936 exhibition between the Yankees and the Tars at Bean Field. <v Ray White>Fox set his home run off Gomez into left-fieldbleachers at Yankee Stadium. I don't think that had been done before. And my second shot heard round the world was when I had Lou Gehrig and I had an exhibition game and I made the Japanese sports pages.
<v Narrator>Many of the Yankee greats got their start in Norfolk, including Phil Rizzotto, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford. Newport News played host to many great players as well. Herbie Morrow, which is a sports promoter who is partly responsible for keeping baseball in Newport News. <v Herbie Morewitz>The ballpark was located on what was Virginia Avenue, which is now Waldwick Avenue. And the the right-fieldfence was backed up against the CNO railroad track and the right-fieldfoul line. It was about two hundred and ten feet, but they had a 20 foot screen and Duke Snider was a left-handedhitter. And this particular game, he hit one over this right field screen and it landed in a CNO Coal car and went all the way to West Virginia. And that's what's known as the longest home run ever hit in baseball. <v Wayne Johnson>The right field fence was 265 feet. Man, I had to pitch to them guys and they the left hand hitters. I keep the curve away from them being left-handed, One on one against the right-handed. Well, course, the left-handed, should have been one hit and home runs on that short fence. But anybody could hit one. You can stand on home plate and throw it over the fence. Easy. And there's a railroad track down and all these guys got on top of these boxcars. You know, been sitting there overnight and they were watching that game and sometime they'd [unclear] had to jump out the way, almost killed themselves getting over the train.
<v Narrator>In 1948, the Dodgers moved into the War Memorial Stadium on Pembroke Avenue. Wayne Johnson pitched the opening game against Whitey Ford as the Dodgers and the Tars played to a three two decision for the Dodgers. Johnson played for the Newport News Dodgers in the late 40s on the same team with Gil Hodges and TV's Rifleman Chuck Connors. In fact, Johnson says he was the man who got Chuck started in show business. <v Wayne Johnson>He loved to do this case at a bat and then case the mighty Casey struck out and he'd make like he had imagined a pitcher there pitching a spirit to ball when it went by. And he cussed the guy. Oh, he'd lay it on him. He was funny, he'd done all kind of stuff. I couldn't say what all he didn't do. So I told him one day I said Chuck. [unclear] two or three times. He hesitated each time. And so I told him one time, I say Chuck how about [unclear] we're sitting out in a park, you know, there now. And he said. He said, oh, hell, you don't care [unclear]. So I laughed and I said yeah i do too, and so he told me you just a [unclear] He wasn't mad, he was laughing [unclear] You should be in the movies. I mean it, Chuck. You are sensational. And you ought to be in a movie.
<v Narrator>Portsmouth's Frank Ahrens Stadium was home to the Cubs Farm Club. The baseball portion of the stadium has been torn down and it is now called Portsmouth Stadium. Harry Land caught for the Portsmouth Cubs in the late 40s. <v Harry Land>When I started playing, I was a high priced rookie. I made one hundred twenty five dollars a month. We got 50 cents a day for a meal and normally you weren't gone but one meal, you'd go play ball and you get a 50 cent piece. Today, you hear people talk about the differences are ballplayers of today and the differences of a ballplayer's when I played. <v Harry Land>People, those days were hungry. We played to eat because, you know, you couldn't afford to let nobodyelse have your job. And you played for the love of the game.
<v Narrator>There was a time before multiplex theaters and shopping malls that if you wanted to see a movie, you had to go downtown if you lived in Norfolk. That meant a trip to Granby Street to visit the NorVa or the Loews state theater. <v Syd Gates>The Loews state theater was a wonderful location. 300 [inaudible] street.I think it is still there. The building is still there. And there were some great attractions, we plated some of the greatest competition was the Narva Theater right next door. <v Narrator>The Loews and the NorVa stood only a few doors down from each other on the same side of the street. Now both theaters are dark. The NorVa houses the downtown athletic club and the Loews sits empty. The Loews is scheduled to become part of the Tidewater Community College downtown Norfolk campus. The only reminder that the theater occupied this spot is the faded writing on this painted sign. In its day, the Loews was perhaps the grandest of Norfolk's movie theaters. Syd Gates came to Norfolk to manage the Loews in 1926.
<v Syd Gates>The theater at Loews, it had box seats and it was a that's where they built them and they- they were palaces. The theaters were built a lot different. They were you could say that the theater was 300 feet wide by several hundred feet long. <v Narrator>During the 40s, going to the movies was an event, each of the local movie houses had a staff of ushers armed with flashlights, who drilled like soldiers. And we're always ready to point you toward your seat. <v Syd Gates>You'd purchase your ticket, and there you were met by a doorman who looked like an admiral. He had twenty five, thirty stripes on it. He was so proud of his uniform and he would take your ticket. Madam, gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, hope you enjoy the picture. And then, of course, you'd go- go a little further than the long lobby. I can see it right now. The usher would take you to your theater. He had a flashlight that had to be in good shape. It had to be burning. If it wasn't burning, he'd lose his job. And of course, he was an immaculate- dressed immaculately, the uniforms were so neat.
<v Narrator>As a teenager in the early 1940s, Jack Davidson worked as an usher at the Norfolk Theater. <v Jack Davidson>I thought I was rather dressed up at my age, Gee you get paid to go on his job and be dressed up and tuxedo and everybody recognized if they wanted something. They call on you like sir. <v Narrator>One of the facts of life in the movie business was dealing with the censors. <v Syd Gates>The picture was The Merry Widow, Mae Murray and John Gilbert. <v Syd Gates>A scene of him embracing the girl, leading lady where it was the censor had the authority to cut that out. They shouldn't do that. And also, the times of the dress was a little too short. That'll have to come out. It might an inch or two that had to be taken out and I'd used during that during that engagement of the picture. <v Narrator>While the Loews in the Norva battle for customers on Granby Street, other theaters around the region like the Bain Theater in Virginia Beach and the gates in Portsmouth, attracted moviegoers. Perhaps one of the best-rememberedNorfolk theaters was the Bird Theater on City Hall Avenue. It was at the bird that the cowboy pictures played a picture at the bird and a trip to Tony's hotdogs made Saturday afternoons complete in Newport News. The Palace Theater and the Paramount, along with the Langley and Hampton, vied for the best pictures on the peninsula. Herbie Morewitz managed the Palace Theater for the Gordon family.
<v Herbie Morewitz>I went to work as an usher at the palace and the first picture I ushered for was all quiet on the Western Front. The Original. And I worked with them right on through high school. I made three dollars a week. Made 50 cents a night. And I used to give my mother two and a half and I kept 50 cents. We were the first theater to have air conditioning. The first ones I have talkies can remember when when we used to put up on a marquee. Twenty-fivepercent talkie. When a picture came in color. Boy, that was something. And then, of course, summertime air conditioning was really a come on. <v Narrator>The palace, Paramount, Langley, Bird, NorVa, and Loews all fell into disrepair and finally closed their doors for good. But their memory, like the flickering stories they once housed, are not easily forgotten.
<v Narrator>Downtown was more than the center of entertainment. It was the only place to shop. Each city in Hampton Roads had its deluxe department stores, family-ownedbusinesses with names like W.G. Schwartz, Ames and Brownie, Smith and Walton, Rices and many others. One of the most interesting names among local department stores was The Famous in Portsmouth, opened by Belle and Isaac Goodman in 1916. Their daughter, Zelma Rivin and her husband Bernard managed the store until it closed. <v Narrator>But even to Rivin, where the store got its name, has always been a puzzle. <v Zelma Rivin>I asked my mother that question a dozen times and each time I got the same answer. Well, your father wanted to call it the Belle shop. That was her name. And of course, it had a double on time, she said. But I didn't like that. So we called it the famous. <v Narrator>The store was known throughout the region for its exquisite bridles and its courteous service. The famous closed its doors on High Street in 1991.
<v Narrator>The building still stands on High Street today. It is being renovated to become the visual arts center of Tidewater Community College. But High Street, like so many other downtown streets, has changed. Mike Williams, a retired newspaper photographer for the Portsmouth's star, remembers when High Street bustled with activity. <v Mike Williams>There were so many things on High Street. High street was such an active place. <v Mike Williams>It was of course, It was a parade town. They all had parades every time you turned around it was a parade. And the place would be packed with people, now no one goes downtown. <v Narrator>You didn't have to look too hard in Hampton Roads to find a parade. Suffolk had its peanut festival, complete with a peanut queen and Hampton had its' seafood festival with its queen Lorelei. This parade was held on Washington Avenue in Newport News. And if you look closely, you can see the large neon coffee pot in front of ?Anne Tienes? Drug store. Washington Avenue was also the address of perhaps the grandest of the local department stores, Nachman's was founded in 1893 by Saul and Ida Nachman as the store grew, it changed locations several times. In 1929, they built a four-storysixty thousand square foot store on 32 Street and Washington Avenue in downtown Newport News. The downtown store became the third largest retail store in the state, second only to Milliron Roads and Tall Heimer's in Richmond.
<v Narrator>Nachman's is best remembered for its generous credit policy Sue Anne Bangle and Joanne Roos, are twin granddaughters of Saul Nachman. <v Sue Anne Bangel>He often was more concerned whether his customers had food on their table or coal in their bins, and very often someone would come in and they needed something. But they weren't able to pay and they'd say, Mr. Nachman when I'm not able to pay for this. And he would say, do you have money for food and coal? And very often the customer who came in to try to buy something on credit went out with money in their pockets, too, because my grandfather wanted to assure that the family would be warm and fed. And he always felt that when they would come and he would pay. <v Narrator>Nachman's was the epitome of class and style selling only first-ratemerchandise. It was also a leader in social causes. In the 50s, Markman's worked with the local Newport News businesses to integrate their lunch counters. Bill Roos managed the store at the time.
<v Bill Roos>We met with some of the leaders of the black community and said, we don't want this in Newport News. There's no need for it. We agree with you, but you want and so on such a such a day this week, we would like you to come in and sit down and be our guest for lunch and we'll sit down with you. And of course, it seems like such a stupid thing that day. It was. But it was a big thing then. <v Narrator>Although the Nachman's store on 32 in Washington Avenue has been closed for nearly 20 years. The employees of Nachman still get together twice a year to talk about old times and remember what life was like as part of the Nachman is family. <v Guest>It started as a 20 year club. That's how it started out. People, personnel that had worked 20 years or more and they would get together and and then after the business was sold and change hands, that that core began to build and they wanted to still get together and be together. <v Narrator>Virginia Bass, who coordinates these reunion luncheons, worked 22 years in the children's department. She remembers the day they demolished the Washington Avenue store and turned it into a parking lot.
<v Virginia Bass>I saw this big ball that you knocked buildings down with. It was going backwards and forwards. And then I came back by the same way and it was still doing it. And I cried because it was sad to think that that building at all those years was going down. Nothing just wouldn't be nothing. <v Virginia Bass>My husband says, What are you crying for? I said, but it's being torn down, you know? And it was sad. It really was. <v Narrator>Surrounded by water, our region is filled with working folks and tourists who are just passing through to accommodate these tourists. Early in this century, each of the Hampton Roads cities built a deluxe hotel. Two of the oldest and grandest are still standing. <v Narrator>The Cavalier at Virginia Beach and the Chamberlain and Hampton. Only a portion of the Warwick Hotel in Newport News still stands. Built by the Old Dominion Land Company in 1883, it was a glamorous spot on the peninsula. Today, it sits boarded up and empty. But in the 1950s, the hotel housed a simple event that signaled great change. Jessie Rattley who would later become the mayor of Newport News, shattered the color barrier in the hotel restaurant by refusing to take no for an answer.
<v Jessie Rattley>We sat at a table for two right near the window, and we sat there quietly. After a while, the waiter came over to the table and whispered to me, that we do not serve blacks here. <v Jessie Rattley>Because at the time they were used, the word Negro, we do not serve Negroes here. And I just looked up at him and said, May I have the menu, please? And smiled. He looked at walked away. And I was certain that he was calling the police to remove us from that place. And it seems as though I waited forever. But I'm sure it wasn't more than maybe ten or 15 minutes. <v Jessie Rattley>The young man returned with the menu. <v Jessie Rattley>We made our selection for lunch. We ordered. We were served.
<v Jessie Rattley>We ate our food. We paid our check and we left. <v Jessie Rattley>And of course, the place was full, really, of Regulars. Business people who would go there every day for lunch. And I wasn't really aware of the personalities and the place, the only thing I observed was the fact that the black help, the waiters, and waitresses were just so proud. You could just see it. They couldn't say anything, but they were just so proud that for the first time, blacks had been served in the Warwick Hotel restaurant. <v Narrator>Enough of the federal building now occupies the space with the city's grandest hotel housed diplomats, dignitaries, and entertainers. On the corner of City Hall Avenue and Granby Street, the Monticello had 300 rooms. And housed the elegant Starlight Ballroom. Ed Jones worked at the hotel as Night Bell captain in 1941.
<v Ed Jones>As an elevator operator myself it, was fifteen dollars a week. We wore uniforms, provided by the hotels and they kept our uniforms clean and pressed for. But it costs us 75 cents a week for that service. And then they took 15 cents for social security. Each Thursday, fourteen dollars and 10 tents. And that sounds like a little bit of money this. But in 1941, in 1941 it looked kind of big. <v Narrator>The Monticello was home to the rich and famous while they visited Tidewater and the Starlight Ballroom on the hotel's seventh floor, played host to many big-namebands. This afforded Ed Jones the opportunity to rub elbows with celebrities, and the hotel's lack of parking allowed him the opportunity to check out their wheels. <v Ed Jones>The Monticello had 1941 [inaudible] two-door hot tub. It had the continental kit on the back. It was a real light green, almost looked like white. Previously [unclear], maybe three or four times a week.
<v Narrator>The Monticello was demolished in the 1970s. It came down in a huge cloud of dust. Locals collected doorknobs and bricks from the once proud hotel. Jones could not bring himself to attend the implosion. <v Ed Jones>I just always felt like it was a part of my life. When it went down. I was a little sad about, I am not really sorry that I didn't go there and see it. <v Ed Jones>As I had thought back over my life, considering the hours I worked, the type of work I did. All the nice people I met, um. I believe it was the best job I ever had. <v Narrator>The cities of Hampton Roads are separated by water, which means that in the time before tunnels and bridges if you wanted to get from place to place, you had to take the ferry. J.C. Twine captained the Portsmouth Ferries during the war years.
<v J.C. Twine>Best I can remember our schedule was you had six minutes in the dock to load to unload and load and six minutes to cross the river. That was about a six-minuterun across there. If not, if you didn't get held up, Of course during the war there was an awful lot of traffic down there, you know war traffic. And we didn't worry too much about the schedule. <v J.C. Twine>Along those days, our service personnel, [unclear] It wasall servicemen, just sailors and Marines. I've seen the time we had to cut him off. You know, you can only carry as many passengersas you got life preservers for on a boat. 've seen the time, we had to cut them off. Closed the gate. Wewouldn't let them on because were pack loaded. You couldn't couldn't get another one on there. And lots of times I'm sure that we violate the law because we had no way of counting them because when you open that door [unclear]
<v Narrator>The only remnant of the local ferry service is the Elizabeth River ferry run by TRT. The small boat primarily attracts tourists and carries passengers from waterside to port side. As traffic throughout the region increased, tunnels began to replace the ferries when the tunnel was built from Norfolk to Portsmouth, Twine took a job working on the Newport News ferries. <v J.C. Twine>I walked down there about 10 years before they built the tunnel. It was a regular while. After I went to work down there, they weren't in there quite a while and they start building a tunnel down there I said everywhere I go they build a tunnel. <v Narrator>Dorothy Wiley's father, Captain Briggs, worked for the Portsmouth Ferries until he quit his job when the tunnel was built. He avoided entering the tunnel at any cost. Dorothy remembers the day she drove her father through the tunnel to Norfolk for the first time. <v Dorothy Wylie>I went, picked him up and we shot right down through the tunnel. He sat there. He didn't say a word. He sat right still. And so I was watching him out the corner of my eye. Just as soon as we came out of the tunnel, I said. Papa, I said, you have just been through the tunnel. And he says, Dorothy, you sure are a good driver.
<v Dorothy Wylie>That's all the ?advice? That he had. he wouldn't say anything about the tunnel at all. <v Narrator>The ferries have long since stopped running. But a reminder of Norfolk's ferry service still stands in Ghent. The Norfolk ferry terminal was moved from commercial place, preserved and rebuilt. It now houses the Fred Hewitt Center, a horticultural society. <v Narrator>The region's most majestic ferry boats were the Cape Charles ferries, which ran from Little Creek to Cape Charles and later to Kiptopeke beach. The ferries were built in Wilmington, Delaware, for the Virginia Ferry Corporation in the 1930s. The Pocahontas, launched in September of 1940, was one of the oldest and grandest to the Cape Charles Ferries. <v Narrator>Captain Bill Parks piloted the Pocahontas. <v Bill Parks>The Pocahontas, which was my favorite. She she had a slow roll, almost like she was top-heavy. But her role was very slow.
<v Bill Parks>She must have had a high center of gravity, I don't know. And the others would roll very fast, called a stiff, the Pocahontas was tender and the other boats were very stiff. <v Narrator>The Pocahontas was one of seven Cape Charles ferries equipped for the dining room and a ballroom. She was more than a ferryboat on bright summer nights after carrying hundreds of cars to the Eastern Shore. Passengers danced on her decks during periodic moonlight cruises, but the Pocahontas was designed for more than just dancing. She could do 13 miles per hour and 40 feet of water and made the trip to the Eastern Shore in one hour and 45 minutes. She was fast and built specifically to handle bad weather. <v Bill Parks>The worst I think I've ever seen was that from the Northwest. The winds from Northwest and we used to try to attack those boats like sailboats went across the bay to try to minimize the rolling, you know, in rough weather and a lot of times it would work.
<v Narrator>The Cape Charles Ferries stopped running in 1964 when the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnelopened. The ferry terminal in Kiptopeke is now part of a state park. It is boarded up and sits eerily silent, protected by a fleet of nine concrete ships. The concrete ships were built during the Second World War to carry cargo. They were bought by the ferry company in 1948 and now serve as a breakwater for the ferry landing. <v Narrator>The Pennsylvania Railroad built a little creek Cape Charles Ferries in the 30s to lure people from the northeast to the new resort town of Virginia Beach. At the time, the ferries were built. Virginia Beach didn't have much to offer besides Seaside Park and the Cavalier Hotel. But as the Depression drew to a close, summer beach clubs became the center of nightlife at Virginia Beach. <v Speaker>Every big band in the country came to Virginia Beach. It was an important place in the summer. Beach clubs were so enticing to the band members as well as to the public who came to hear them.
<v Narrator>Two of the most popular beach clubs were the cavalier beach club and the surf club. And on many nights it was difficult to decide which one to attend. <v Jimmy Jordan>I was dating Nannette, who is with my wife, and she liked the Glenn Miller Band and Glenn Miller was at Surf Club. And I liked Darcy band, and they went to Cavalier and we never got to the surf club. She's never gotten over it to tell you the truth. But Darcy Band and Frank Sinatra and Jo Stafford and it was a good band. <v Narrator>Sunday afternoon tea dances were wildly popular and well attended. Facing the ocean, the clubs are open to the elements. In the summer, things would heat up on the dance floor. <v Jimmy Jordan>You wore a coat and tie. You really did and sometimes after dancing and at all at noon that you had a hard time getting the tie off.vI can tell you it just stuck to you. <v Narrator>All of the big-namebands made a stop at one of the clubs at Virginia Beach. Here you can see a film crew setting up to film the band at the Cavalier Beach Club. Many radio broadcasts also originated from the clubs. If you couldn't listen on radio or afford the clubs thirty dollar membership fee. That didn't mean you couldn't enjoy the music.
<v Jimmy Jordan>People would bring in their bathing suits, with a blanket, maybe a tub with some beer in it and sit on the beach and listen to the music. <v Jimmy Jordan>We, we belonged to both club, fortunately, and we would go depending on which band we wanted to see. Of course. The bands are what kept clubs going, that was that was the only attraction, really, except they both- both clubs, the Cavalier had a whole lot more cabanas that people would would rent for the season. <v Narrator>The Cavalier Beach Club is no longer in use. The once shimmering dance floor is buckled and when the tide is up, it is completely submerged by seawatera little farther up Atlantic Avenue. The Ramada now stands on the former site of the surf club. All that remains is this row of cabanas. <v Narrator>Virginia Beach became a popular vacation spot as people flocked to the oceanfront. One of the earliest attractions at the beach was Seaside Park, built by the railroad company to encourage weekend travel. Each weekend excursion trains visited the park, unloading hundreds of vacationers at once. Jimmy Jorden worked at one of the park's many soda fountains.
<v Jimmy Jordan>Pacific Avenue, with a railroad track and these excursions would come and we'd all be sitting there waiting for him at the fountain. Nothing to do. And then they get off and they run across that feilld right up to the picnic area and we were busy yesterday. But when we weren't busy, we would make chocolate popsicles, we would put Vanilla ice cream on a stick flat stick and then dip it in chocolate. <v Jimmy Jordan>And then after it stopped dripping, we would put it in the freezer and we sold a lot of those things for five cents and it was just unbelievable. <v Narrator>Seaside Park had many attractions to entertain visitors. But in the 30s, its most popular attraction was the Peacock Ballroom. <v Tazewell Thompson>They let the girls come in for nothing. The boys, they charged a dollar apiece. We didn't have a dollar apiece in those days. But what they would do when you paid your dollar, they would have pinned a little tag through the hole in your left lapel of your jacket. So four of us would go down together and each put up a quarter and we'd trade the jacket and dance every fourth dance.
<v Narrator>Virginia Beach and Seaside Park were segregated. Blacks enjoyed separate resorts like Seaview Beach in Virginia Beach and Bay Shore in Hampton. <v Jessie Rattley>The summer happening as kids would say was at the bay shore the white part was called Buckroe. The black part was called bay shore. And they were side by side with a fence between them that really extended out into the water to separate the two. And there was bathing, dancing. We would have entertainment restaurants. And it was well attended. It was really packed. It was crowded. That was the place to go in the summer when you wanted to see people. <v Narrator>Bay shore's neighbor Buckroe beach was built as a trolley park in 1897, Buckroe was a family park and the final destination of many Sunday school trains coming from as far away as Richmond.
<v Wally Steiffen>It was a very popular place for people, especially those young people to gather, in fact that I'm still pretty proud of the fact that we had many parents who would come down, drop their children off at our gates, leave them all evening and come back and pick them up at 10 or 11 o'clock. And that was, I thought, a kind of a nice tribute to us because it was a nice, cleanly run family park. <v Narrator>Due to rising insurance rates and falling attendance, Buckroe closed in 1985. The attractions were sold off and the land is now a city park. The carousel was restored by the city of Hampton and moved downtown today for 50 cents. You can still ride the carousel and hear the strains of the original calliope piping the music of an era that has all but disappeared. Buckroe's roller coaster, the dips also found renewed life. It was built of Longleaf Hart Pine and when the roller coaster was torn down, the valuable wood went to Colonial Williamsburg. So somewhere along Duke of Gloucester Street are little pieces of the dips from Buckroe Beach.
<v Narrator>Hampton Roads largest amusement park was Ocean View Park, built in 1899 by the streetcar company. The park had it all. The Skyrocket, Doumars ice cream cones, a bathhouse and even a burlesque theater for a brief time. It was a wonderful part of the Ocean View neighborhood. David Lawrence is the director of Ocean View Station, a museum devoted to preserving the history of Ocean View. <v David Lawrence>It was a good place to sit out and watch the people go by and flirt with the girls. But in addition to that, we had band concerts in the afternoons, we would have bad concerts. Well, now today it's all the same night. And one of the things that interested me was going down there every Tuesday night for a while they would have fireworks and I'd go down on the beach and watch the fireworks go off and it provided a lot of entertainment for me. <v Narrator>The Cooper family bought the park in 1941. Sam Miller and his son Richard both managed the park in different eras. Sam managed Oceanview Park during the Second World War and remembers the many changes he had to make.
<v Sam Miller>The Navy asked us to keep that park running, but we had to keep- we had to keep the lights protected from the bay in case the submarine ever went through the nets that were out at the bay, connecting to the ocean and we had to put ?wall? way round a whole park facing the water. And we kept it up there for a long time. <v Sam Miller>And then when the war was over, we took them down. <v Narrator>A tragic accident in 1958 brought more changes to the park. <v Sam Miller>We had someone repainting the repainting the horses in the merry-go-round. And through some accident, the thing that was during the wintertime and the thing that was used for heat fell and oil went around and burned the ballpark down. <v Narrator>Ocean View Park was rebuilt and new attractions are added, but it remained a wonderful place for boys to meet girls.
<v Richard Miller>We lost a lot of help to the opposite sex. They would come together job and all of a sudden they'd disappear. <v Sam Miller>I've got- that reminds me of the story with the Ferris wheel right here, we had a Sunday afternoon and it was packed. The place was packed and we had what they call a sixteen-wheelFerris wheel. <v Richard Miller>Sixteen seat. Sixteen seat. <v Sam Miller>It held a great number of people. How many people? <v Richard Miller>32. <v Sam Miller>About 32 people. And it was full. And after you take them around six or eight times and you unload them. But at this time, when it was very busy, we have one person on one side taking the tickets and the other one working the controls. <v Sam Miller>A couple of girls came up there and start talking to them and they made a date. And while the thing was going around, they were talking to this these two operators. So they just let the thing go because it runs by itself and they just stay there in an emergency in case something happens they can shut down and they just walked off. And then this thing is going around and around and around. People started screaming. Get this beam down. When they came running to the office and we realized what happened. We sent a crew down there and we took them off.
<v Narrator>Two suspense thrillers were filmed in Ocean View Part Universal's roller coaster. And ABC is made for television movie The Death of Ocean View Park, originally called Amusement Park. The TV movie was produced in 1979. The film revolved around the Rocket, the Ocean View roller coaster exploding into flames. <v Narrator>This was easier said than done for the Hollywood special effects crew who had to demolish the 79 year old coaster on cue. <v Richard Miller>This was probably the first roller coaster that ever was destroyed lve for a movie. Several have been done since then. <v Richard Miller>And they asked dad if they if he thought that they were doing properly and getting the coaster ready to go. <v Richard Miller>And he said absolutely not, that you had to do a lot more cutting of the structure. And a lot more preparation in order for it to go as they want it, because he knew as well as I that how well that roller coaster was put together, regardless of what the other people thought about it, we knew it was well put together.
<v Richard Miller>So they were running out of time and they would not do everything he had said to do and of course, everybody was in great anticipation. <v Richard Miller>And the moment came and we had this fantastic explosion that blew out windows for blocks around. But if you had set a glass of water on top of the roller coaster, it would never have spilled the coaster just did not move. <v Narrator>They tried a second time to blow up the rocket. <v Richard Miller>So, again, everything was set up and again, we have this magnificent explosion. Again, we break ?out plate glass? And surrounding buildings. And again, the rollercoaster stays up. It did shake this time. Admittedly, it did shake. But we were getting to feel pretty proud about this. And after that explosion, while they were again preparing for another one. The demolition expert that was brought in from California for this was under the rollercoaster with dad and myself.
<v Richard Miller>And he leaned up against it and he said if there was ever an earthquake in this area. This is where I'd want to be because this structure is not going anywhere. <v Narrator>They tried again to blow up the rocket. <v Richard Miller>This time, they had the biggest bulldozer in the city available. <v Sam Miller>Six feet tall. <v Richard Miller>And they hooked up the cable to the base. And took tension on it and then when tension broke the first piece of wood, they set, the explosion, the bulldozer took off. And of course, the coaster came down. And that's when the first tears came into our eyes. And that was the saddest one. <v Sam Miller>And as a note, the place was jammed. Oceanview. Oceanviewstreets were jammed with everybody in Norfolk was there. Whoever rode the roller coaster was there. And then when they blew it and they wouldn't come down, they all applauded, they shouted and all applauded, it didn't go down. They applauded the roller coaster because that was their hero. And the second time, again, they blew and they applauded. But the time it went down. It was sort of a groan from the people.
- Gone But Not Forgotten
- Producing Organization
- WHRO (Television station : Norfolk, Va.)
- Contributing Organization
- The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
- AAPB ID
- Program Description
- "Our entry in Category 7 illustrates a body of work achieved in 1994 which we feel exemplifies meritorious service to the community. Building on our 33 year history of education and public service, we are utilizing the latest technologies to provide community-wide outreach and access to education, information and culture. In addition to the 230,000 households that watch our TV stations, the 140,000 radio listeners and the more than 200,000 students and the 17,000 teachers who use our educational TV services weekly, WHRO helps geographically disadvantaged nurses on the eastern shore earn college degrees, brings daily newspapers via audio to the print handicapped, operates a higher educational channel by [microwave] links, allows students and educators daily access to the internet via our Learning Link, and sends staff members for personal appearances in classrooms, civic meetings and concert appearances. Colleagues and Community leaders view WHRO as a model public telecommunications center for the 21st century. Please find enclosed notebooks on (1) a General WHRO Overview (2) Educational achievements (3) Informational achievements and (4) Cultural achievements. Marked videotapes and audiotapes accompany the printed materials."--1994 Peabody Awards entry form. This episode in the program, 'Gone But Not Forgotten? details the history of life in Norfolk, Virginia after the second world war. Testimonies from residents of the city recount the many activities, places and memories made in Norfolk, while also showing how much has changed.
- Broadcast Date
- Created Date
- Asset type
- Media type
- Moving Image
Producing Organization: WHRO (Television station : Norfolk, Va.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the
University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-5edf367b37e (Filename)
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- Chicago: “Gone But Not Forgotten,” 1994, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 27, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-d50ft8fm8x.
- MLA: “Gone But Not Forgotten.” 1994. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 27, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-d50ft8fm8x>.
- APA: Gone But Not Forgotten. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-d50ft8fm8x