Monthly Archives: August 2016

berlin shots









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pionier theater/ oldest theater in the world

In 1907 , on the ground floor of the building on Falkenwalder Strasse , Otto Blauert presented the cinematograph to the people of Stettin for the first time . The German city called Stettin is now the Polish city Szczecin . Falkenwalder Street is now Wojska Polskiego Avenue , and the theater is still in operation.IMG_7641

Ada and I went over there a few nights ago to see the Woody Allen film  Cafe Society . Neither of us was overly impressed with the film . Ada thought that it lacked passion . We both thought it’s characterization shallow . I thought that Woody Allen’s narration was dull and the script of the narration too stilted  . Sorry , Woody , we’re not recommending this one .

To my story , however .

Otto Blauert sold the place to the Pietze couple in 1908 . They called it the ” Welt Theater ” , and later the ” Welt Lichtpiele “, a name in use until the outbreak of the war in 1939 . They showed   “comedies , dramas , and moral films ” says the pamphlet now available at the theater . I’m plagiarizing from the pamphlet as this post progresses , changing a few words here and there in case the cosmic teacher catches me and I have to talk myself out of trouble .IMG_7638

One further comment on the Woody Allen film , before I continue . It’s set in the 1930s . I like period pieces , but I have one trivial complaint here . In one scene the young man follows the girl toward the elevator . The elevator door opens and she intends to enter , but she doesn’t because she waits outside the elevator to talk to him , a few last words . She reaches her arm out and the automatic door reopens , as elevator doors now do . They didn’t do that , however , in the 1930s .The first patent for safety bumpers on elevator doors came along in 1944 . Later came the infra-red sensors we are familiar with in modern elevators .  Where was the film crew person whose job it is to check those details ?  I know , I know , it’s a very minor and trivial item , but something is right or it isn’t right . Right ? Henry Ford had a new factory building torn door because it was  1/4 inch off square .

Well , on second thought , I’m thankful that no one holds me to that strict standard .To my story again , however .

And then came the war . When peace finally came , the Germans were moved out of the city and Poles from the east moved in . On 26th December , 1945 , the first film projection in the Polish Szczecin was held . The audience saw  Ivan the Terrible  by Sergei Eisenstein with music by Sergei Prokofiev . The theater was then called the Odra , but soon changed its name to the ” Pionier “, the name it still has today .

Well , let me simply quote from the pamphlet :   In September 1999 , Jerzy Miskiewicz and Waclaw Szewczyk became the owners of the “Pionier” cinema. At the beginning of the twenty-first century the cinema was renovated . On 7th November , 2000 another screen was installed in the cinema in a brand new room called ” Kiniarnia ” . It is a unique place where the audience can sit comfortably by the tables and enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of wine during the projection of the film. In 2003 , the “Pionier” cinema was included into the prestigious Europa Cinemas network . In August 2005 , ” Pionier ” was  recognized as the oldest cinema in the world and entered the Guinness Book of World Records . 

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a tragedy tour

A local friend of mine offered to take me on a walking  history tour here in Szczecin . He suggested that we meet at the statue of the prince and princess that stands outside the castle gate . And , so we did . What prince and princess I forget , if I ever knew ; but I knew where they stood , and they made a good meeting place . Poland 7 2016 frankie's party 034

We walked a hundred yards or so away from the statue , to the corner of the castle , and my guide , Przemek ,  pointed out the scene of a terrible tram accident in the 1960s . It happened early in the morning . There were three tram cars loaded with about five hundred people , most of them probably shipyard workers headed to work . The tram failed to make the sharp turn at the bottom of the hill . The second car hit a light post and broke in two .

Przemek explained the event step by step , pointing out the specific places ,  as if it had happened yesterday . There is a freeway nearby the scene today that hadn’t been there in the 1960s , but with his explanation I could visualize the tram accident . The tracks were changed following the disaster , he told me . They were removed .

We were standing on the parapet of the castle , where repair work is now going on . Premek pointed to cannon mounts on the walls . ” Do you remember the cannons ? ” he asked . They were mounted on the castle wall and have been removed during renovation work . Yes , I remember the cannons .

” This brings us to disaster number two , ” he said . He told me about the area just below the walls , down by the river . In past years it had been an open area used as a Sunday market , where people gathered for a little trading and relaxation on Sundays . One Sunday in the early 1970s , during special festivities , young soldiers were assigned to fire the cannons as part of the celebrations . One of the ancient iron cannons blew apart when fired . Premek described the results .

We then walked a few hundred yards further , away from but near the castle . Catherine the Great was born in a house nearby . Premek pointed the house out to me , but our tour was a disaster tour , so we moved along . Poland 7 2016 frankie's party 033

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It’s good to have a local man tell tales of the city he loves and has lived in all of his life .

And then we came to the plaza where tragic events happened in 1970 , where people were killed and the Communist Party headquarters building was  burned . The Solidarity movement ten years later used these events to trace the historical changes in Polish government . Nowadays there is a museum in the plaza area  and the sculpture of an angel on the spot . Usually in America we hear of happenings in Gdansk , of Lech Walesa , etc. , connected with Solidarity , but not of events in Sczcecin .

Szczecin was a major shipbuilding center at the time ,  however .  The Szczecin shipyard workers’ union struck , as shipyard workers did in Gdansk , and major historical changes began to take place in Poland .

Przemek summarized the events in December of 1970 for me , and then we moved on up the street to the scene of the Cascada fire . There is a shopping mall on the spot now , called Cascada .

We were having a good time , though , my friend Przemek and I , two history buffs , walking and talking about the city’s past . We both appreciate knowing the  value of being aware of from where you’ve come . Maybe it makes us appreciate what we have now a little more .


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random pictures

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KutaisiTblisi 2016 703

Japanese print woman in boat


1822 theater gallery

dancer adeline



CABIB Sept 2015 hikes 064

ODDs and ENDs Poland 2015 005Api and LACMA Oct. 2015 054

japan art deco poster

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regattas big and small

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sailboat Carl 1880s


sailboat 1893 Vigilant

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russian ship 1

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mushroom pickers

Poland mushroom picking 2016 (27)Poland mushroom picking 2016 (31)(not this one )


Poland mushroom picking 2016 (61)


Poland mushroom picking 2016 (10)

Poland mushroom picking 2016 (6)Poland mushroom picking 2016 (4)

Poland mushroom picking 2016 (86)

Poland mushroom picking 2016 (1)


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on the walk to sister-in-law’s place

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