Friday, September 21, 2007


The next KAHS general meeting will feature a presentation about the Vaudette Theater of Kaukauna. Everybody I talk to has got a story (or 3) about Kaukauna's movie theaters - The Rialto and The Vaudette. We'd love for you to post your memories about Kaukauna's cinema palaces.


Jerry Kroll said...

My Early Memories of the Rialto from the late 1930's and early 1940's:

My parents were good movie goers, especially when the theatre had specials. One of the specials was getting an encyclopedia once a week for a small price. It was the Standard American encyclopedia with a copyright date of 1939. There were 15 volumes which I still have.

Another memory was during the World War II years. During Saturday matinees, one could get a free ticket to the movie if you brought scrap metal to the theatre. A truck was parked outside where the iron was deposited and then we
would get our ticket. We were always happy to go to those matinees, especially when a serial was going on like The Green Hornet. On one of those Saturdays, a nationwide contest was going on as to who was the most popular cowboy,
Roy Rogers or Gene Autry. Large posters were in the lobby and you signed your name on your favorite. As I recall Roy had the most votes.

A final memory was during the summer of my eighth grade year. I worked at the Rialto in the morning cleaning the theatre. Popcorn boxes were put into the aisle, picked up, folded and put into large boxes. We then sold them to Goldins. Next all the refuse was swept into the aisles then pushed into a pile with snow shovels and picked up for disposal. At that time movies were Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and a new feature on Wednesday and Thursday, and another change for Friday and Saturday. My friend and I did this for one dollar a week and could go to all the movies free. I saw a lot of movies that summer. We also got to keep any loose change that we found.

UB said...

Rialto and Vaudette Theaters – Early 1940’s to early ‘50’s
2nd grade, given 10 cents to see a movie. I remember only the 10 cents, not the movie I saw.

Saturday PM serial movies at the Vaudette. Most notable - The Phantom. The previous Saturday’s episode would have ended with The Phantom falling into a fire, off a cliff, or something equally fatal. Whatever the cause, we left the theater having been told there was no escape. The next Saturday would find the Phantom just grabbing onto the edge of the same cliff, that he had fallen far beyond at the end of the previous episode, saving himself.

Saturday matinees at the Vaudette were a madhouse, with kids screaming and running up and down the aisles, until the movie started. Many times even during the movie. When the noise became unbearable, Clayton Van Dyke, the theater manager, would climb onto the stage. He had to scream at the top of his voice that he would stop the movie and send everyone home if the kids didn’t settle down. It was quite funny, because he would go through his act with the movie reel running. He would look like a stop-action figure in the movie itself.

One of the child stars in Red Ryder movies was Bobby Blake who played Little Beaver. Bill Elliot played the role of Red Ryder. Who would know that Blake
would some day be tried for murdering his wife?

During WWII, my price of admission one weekend was a 5# dumb bell, donated for the war effort. Most of the time, movie entertainment included Previews, a cartoon, Movietone news of the day, a Class B picture and the main feature. If there were no secondary movie, we were treated to a Travelogue or a comedy sketch, starring Leon Eroll.

Occasionally, sets of dinnerware were placed in the lobby, to be earned over time, depending on attendance.

I was an usher at the Rialto. In those days, ushers really did “usher," flashlight and all. The theater was often packed – no standing room allowed. I never tired of watching any movie, over and over. My record was probably King Solomon’s Mines, with Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger, about 13 times. I hadn’t known it at the time, but the movie was a re-make of an earlier version starring Paul Robeson. There is at least one later version.

The Rialto theater manager was Walter Holt. Very proper and businesslike. He wore a dark blue velvet glove over a prosthetic hand.

Anonymous said...

I'll never forget how I learned the Vaudette was closing. Zip Zornow solemnly made the announcement to our entire class at St. Mary's. I don't remember which grade we were in, maybe 6th, but I recall the real loss we felt knowing we would never again hear Clady yell out, while dancing the ever present flashlight in our eyes, "Sit down and be quiet!"

X said...

Sometimes when I went to the the Vaudette on a sunday evening there would only be 2 or 3 people there. About halfway through the movie Mr. Van Dyke would just give us the rest of the popcorn so he wouldn't have to throw it out.

Anonymous said...

I saw the movie Ben Hur at the Rialto. I was about 6 years old and wept during the scene where Jesus was dying on the cross. The Vaudette was fun on a Friday night. It still recall the preview for the movie "Hard Days Night" featuring the Beatles. St. Mary's Grade School often had field trips to the movies. Clady would walk mid-way down the aisle and announce: "This is the good part, so be quiet and listen." That was classic. Someone apparently bounced one of those baseball size superballs inside the place and damaged the screen because there was an area on the left side that was pushed in. Clady knew everyone's name so you didn't dare act-up or he'd say he was going to be calling your father.

Anonymous said...

Grew up on the "North Side", so the Rialto was our frequent theater. I remember at the beginning of the school year in the mid 1960s - paying $1.00 for a strip of 10 movie tickets. All Saturday matinees, and always great kids' movies. I'd bring along a nickel and buy a big peppermint stick that lasted through the whole movie - even a double feature!

Carol Holt Lahey said...

Walter Holt was my father and I spent many hours avidly watching movies at the Rialto. He never had a prosthetic hand. Right up to his death, he had two hands which he loved to use fishing, hunting or playing cards. Perhaps he was pulling your leg as a joke?


Walter Holt was my father and I spent many hours avidly watching movies at the Rialto. He never had a prosthetic hand. Right up to his death, he had two hands which he loved to use fishing, hunting or playing cards. Perhaps he was pulling your leg as a joke?