CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY
Broadway and Pine Street
The Towers Theatre on Broadway and Pine Street predated movies, and featured both film and live entertainment into the 1950s. During the theater's glory days, in the vaudeville era, it featured its own orchestra, led by Gus Borchard and featuring Ollie Bundick on drums and Sammy Adams on the piano. Camden's own Don Traveline also played many a show there.
The Towers was also used for mass meetings by labor and political groups at different times, including an October 28, 1931 rally by Democrat candidate for governor A. Harry Moore.
The Towers Theatre had a large grand piano on stage that was employed when piano-based acts played the theater. The theater closed for a spell during the Depression, but reopened around the end of 1939. Journalist Dan McConnell wrote about the piano and some of the artists that used it in his November 24, 1939 column.
When the theatre reopened actor-producer Lee Harvey was appointed manager, a post that he held until his death in April of 1950. He was succeeded by Willard G. Johnson, who had appeared for many years in vaudeville with his father Jesse P. Johnson.
Different editions of Film Daily Yearbook give several seating capacities. The 1941 edition states 1,200, while the 1943 edition shows a 1,700 seat capacity. The 1950 edition has the theatre with 1,420 seats.
By October of 1956 the Towers' doors were shut forever. A gas station replaced the old palace, and remains there to this day.... not a good trade, in the opinion of this writer.
January 21, 1928
Click on Image to Enlarge
ELABORATE REVUE TO HEAD TOWERS’ BILL
An elaborate revue heads next week’s bill at the Towers. The revue is
comprised of Bobby O’Neill and Company who will present in miniature an
entire musical comedy which has been titled “Grape Juice”.
He is assisted by Lew Kurtz, Lucille Dorman, Gertrude Manchine,and Julia
John Allman and Maretta McNally who have been given the added feature on
the bill will be seen in a skit entitled “Up Stage,” clever dialogue
in which laughs are punctuated by songs.
W.D. Pollard in “Uncommon Nonsense” is a juggler, who mixes his
skill with a rapid fire comedy talk that is good for many laughs.
Rogers and Wynne, in “Now And Then” are comedy dancers who bring something new in the roofing line. They try to execute various steps always ending in scrambled legs or some other disaster. Ross and Leddy in “A Musical Cocktail,” will supply the musical part of the well-arranged bill. The photoplay on the screen is Madge Bellamy, in “Silk Legs.” Towers News will complete the bill.
By this time the Stanley Corporation was running four of Camden's theaters.
Click on Images to Enlarge
January 28, 1928
Click on Image to Enlarge
Who Was There: Leatrice Joy was a major silent film star. Johnny Herman played piano and sang, wrote a few songs that can be found in sheet music form. The dance team of Dexter and Anita Peters-Wright was well known for decades. In 1912 they founded the Peters Wright Creative Dance Studio in 1912, San Francisco’s oldest dance studio in continuous operation today, and wrote the 1942 book How to Dance. Helen Pachaud appeared in their productions. Al Frisch would have a long career as a songwriter, his tunes being recorded by Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, and just about everyone else active through the 1960s.
IN CAMDEN SPEECH
"Mr. Harry Moore's Great Expose' That Exposes Nothing" appears
on page 16.
By RANSLOE BOONE
Demanding a fair election and protection to Democratic voters, A. Harry Moore was greeted here last night by the largest crowd to gather at a Democratic meeting in Camden's recent history.
The Democratic candidate for governor brought to a climax an all-day speaking tour of Camden county with a mass meeting which overflowed the Towers Theatre, Broadway and Pine street. At least 3500 persons crowded the theatre to its doors and more than 1000 others, unable to get in, heard the speakers' words through amplifiers over the sidewalks.
Assails Justice Lloyd
Moore criticized Supreme Court Justice Frank T. Lloyd, for his refusal last week to order state police 'into Camden to protect the interests of the Democrats.
"The court has not given me that assurance. Instead, the court delivered from the bench a fine speech for my opponent."
The Democratic candidate, had promised in an earlier speech here September 8, to name names of those he charged had resorted to illegal practices at the polls. He made no mention of them last night except to say he had given the names in affidavits filed with Justice Lloyd.
Earlier in the evening the Democratic standard-bearer addressed more than 250 at a combined meeting of Merchantville, Delaware Township and Pennsauken Township voters at Merchantville Hall, 15 West Maple Avenue, Merchantville, and to 1200 at Gloucester city hall.
Lauds Courier-Post Fairness
In an address at noon to employees of the RCA Victor and Campbell Soup companies, Moore, without naming his Republican opponent, declared:
"Come on with your millions," he added without mentioning the name of his Republican opponent, "and with the editors you have bought and paid for, and. next Tuesday I'll crash through to the governor's chair!
“When I speak of the editors who have been bought, and paid for, I’m not in anyway referring to the local newspapers- the Morning Post and the Evening Courier. Both of these papers have been fair to me in handling the news of the campaign,"
. Moore's address at the Towers Theatre follows:
Request for Trooper.
"Evidence is on file with the justice of the Supreme Court here showing clearly that extraordinary means must be taken by me to protect my interests on election day in certain parts of the City of Camden. When I spoke here the last time, I referred to conditions that existed in the Eighth and Fifth wards, conditions that made it impossible for opponents of Republican candidates to receive the protection that the laws provide for all candidates for office.
"I promise at that time that the names of certain individuals who resort to illegal practices at the polls would be made public. This has been done. The names have been given to the justice of the Supreme Court here.
"Though my counsel, I have appealed to the justice of the Supreme Court for assurance that he would use the power of his high judicial office to give my interests the protection of the law of New Jersey in those sections where I am compelled to believe my interests are in jeopardy. Filed with the court are 40 affidavits showing what has happened in the Fifth and Eighth wards in the past, and what I have every reason to believe will be repeated this year unless checked beforehand.
Ridicules Supreme Court
"The court has not given me that assurance. Instead, the court delivered from the bench a fine speech for my opponent. The court insisted on emphasizing that the City of Camden and the County of Camden were no more capable of election law violations than any other city or county in the state.
"Now, I have no criticism to make of the people of Camden city or Camden county. Certainly the great majority of the people here are law abiding. I never said they weren't. But the court was given evidence of the strong-arm and illegal methods used at the polls in the Fifth and Eighth wards in the City of Camden, evidence submitted by persons who witnessed the stuffing of ballot box and by other persons who were victims of intimidation and beating by gangsters.
"Am I not entitled to the protection that I seek? What are courts for, if not to see that justice is done and the law respected?
Hits at Baldwin and Cops
"Can I depend on the prosecutor of Camden county to see that the law is not violated on election day, when the prosecutor has appeared as counsel for my opponent in these matters, and is out campaigning for him?
"Can I look to the police for protection when the affidavits now on file with the justice of the Supreme Court show that the policemen on duty at the polling places where these law violations occurred closed their eyes to what was going on, some leaving the polling place at the approach of bullies in the Eighth ward, and others actually assisting in the assaults made upon voters and election officers?
"The justice said that Camden county has been cleaned up. Two years ago he told the grand jury here that conditions were rotten and charged the grand jury to do its full duty. Granting that Camden now is free of all the things Justice Lloyd said existed here two years ago, credit for the change must go to Justice Lloyd.
"If then, a word from the court accomplished that much, why won't a word from him now, about what habitually happens in the Fifth and Eighth wards, on election day- occurrences that everyone is familiar with- put a stop to that?
Appeals to Fairness
"I want the same protection here that my opponent will have in my county on election day. Guarding his interests at the polls in Hudson will be a Republican prosecutor and a Republican bureau of elections, Mr. Baird will have at every polling place in Hudson county, in addition to the regular challengers and watchers, two Republican deputies from the Bureau of Elections, paid not by the Republican party, but by the taxpayers of Hudson county.
"It is costing our people $100,000 a year to maintain this Republican election bureau with its investigators and deputies.
"The records disclose that 19 names are registered from the saloon owned by the Republican leader of the Fifth ward, and those names, together with the name of the saloon owner and the address of the saloon, have been submitted to the court. In addition, there are at least 1000 names on the Camden city registry lists that do not belong there. That evidence is also in Justice Lloyd's possession.
Threatens Vote Crooks Here
"These 19 names we know for a positive fact are illegally on the registry books, They are the remainder of the 4000 illegal registrants that were discovered during an investigation. Three thousand have been stricken from the registry lists by the Common Pleas Court here, and but for the expiration of the statutory time limit they all would have been stricken.
"However, despite the refusal of the court to assure me of the protection to which I am entitled, I want the people to know that every safeguard will be thrown around their ballots, Even without the support of the law enforcement agencies of this city and county the polls will be properly protected next Tuesday. The next time I come to Camden it will be as the governor of New Jersey, and I promise now that it will be a sad day for the law violators and recreant officials, from the highest down. They will answer to me for whatever frauds occur next Tuesday.
"I pledge to you that the law will be respected, that the ballot box stuffers will be put where they belong, that the reign of terror of the gangsters will end, and end speedily; that the machinery of government will be returned to the people, that the ballot will be cast by the people of South Jersey in accordance with their own desires- unhampered and unafraid.
Pledges Jury Reform
"The question of jury reform no doubt is or particular interest to the people of Camden. I believe that one of the main reasons why handpicked and political juries are possible is the present method of selecting jury commissioners.
"Instead of improving on the original method of having the jury commissioners for each county appointed by the chancellor, the present administration at Trenton threw the procedure completely into politics by placing the appointment of these officials in the hands of the governor.
"I advocate that jury commissioners be appointed by the justice of the Supreme Court in the respective counties. In addition, I favor life tenure for justices of the Supreme Court. The latter reform would completely remove the Supreme Court from politics.
That much accomplished, the justice of the Supreme Court becomes the only proper officer to select jury commissioners."
The Camden mass meeting was opened by former Mayor Joseph E. Nowrey, who presided. District Court Judge Myron Ernst, of Jersey City, predicting Hudson County would give Moore 100,000 majority, paid tribute to Mayor Frank Hague, of Jersey City, Democratic state leader.
"We love and respect Mayor Hague," he declared. "He never has been a boss, as the Republicans charge, but he gives the people value, dollar for dollar."
He declared the election of Moore would be a "beacon signal making possible the election of a Democratic president of the United States."
Other speakers included Gene Mariano and E. George Aaron, Camden attorneys; Harvey Rothberg, Trenton, organizer of the A. Harry Moore Veterans' League; James Baker, former president of the State Board of Taxation; Edward Hart, Jersey City corporation counsel, and the three Democratic candidates for Assembly, Vincent de P. Costello, William C. French, Jr., and Frederick Stanton.
Entrance of Moore was the signal for a deafening ovation. Stamping, whistling and cheering broke out spontaneously as the Democratic candidate stepped on the platform. He was forced to wait several minutes before he could silence his supporters and open his address. ,
Addresses RCA and Soup Workers
Moore opened his Camden county tour with an open-air address to more than 700 employees of RCA Victor and Campbell Soup Companies at Second and Market streets at noon.
"I want to see that every poor boy and girl in the state has a chance equal to the rich." he declared, describing how he himself had started as a poor boy and went to work when he was 13 years old.
"You are my kind of people and I am going to represent you. You are the laboring class and the American Federation of Labor has endorsed me. Labor organizations are with me everywhere.
"There is a demand for a change.
A Republican came to me the other day and said, 'I'm a Republican and I'm going to vote for you. You can't be worse than what we've had.' I smiled and said, 'It's true I can't be worse, but I hope to be better and I will be.”
Hits 'Hoover Prosperity’
Moore attacked what he termed the "Hoover promises of prosperity."
"Where is the job for every man that he promised, where the chicken at every table and the automobile for every workingman that we were to have under Hoover prosperity?" he asked.
"I ask, where are those evidences of prosperity that were promised? I represent you. I'm going to represent you. I want, and you want, the government taken out of the hands of a boss."
Moore's remarks were greeted with cheers and applause, interrupted occasionally with cries "We want Moore" and "atta boy, Harry."
Skirmishes Black Horse Pike
The Democratic candidate was the guest of Harry A. Maloney, state committeeman, at luncheon at his home in Bellmawr, from where the party resumed its tour.
Moore visited the New York Shipbuilding Company at 2 p. m., and greeted many workers.
Five other open-air meetings followed at. Mt. Ephraim, at Runnemede at 3.20 p. m., at the Blackwood Bank at. 3.45 p. m., at Clementon Democratic headquarters at 4:15 p. in. and at the Atco station at 4:45 p. m. More than 2300 heard the candidate at these meetings.
He attacked Baird's state and national record at a mass meeting at 5:30 p. m. at the headquarters of the Independent A. Harry Moore Club, Haddon and Lees avenues, Collingswood. More than 300 crowded into the hall while many more heard the address outside through amplifiers.
Moore's cause was aided by two prominent Collingswood Republicans when the Moore's cause was aided by two prominent Collingswood Republicans when the Democratic candidate spoke in that borough. Both Mayor Joseph H. Van Meter and Thomas M. Jack, former mayor and former sheriff greeted Moore on his arrival in. Collingswood and attended the meeting there. Van Meter also was present later at the Camden meeting.
"David Baird was responsible for passage of the Public Service paving bill which relieved the company, of which he was a director, of the expense of paving between and beside its tracks. He saved the company $3,000,000 a year, placing the burden on the taxpayers.
"When this measure came up during my term as governor, I vetoed it.
"At that time Senator Albert S. Woodruff, whom I consider a most honest and upright man, refused to favor the measure as demanded by Baird .
"When he was a member of the United States Senate, David Baird answered only 193 out of 454 roll calls, being absent for 261 of them, and yet now he promises to be a full-time governor if he is elected. He failed to appear at the 1930 special session of Congress, yet he collected his stipend just the same."
Moore attacked Baird's failure to vote on the Mexican immigration bill which affected southern labor, declaring: "He could not make up his mind how to vote." ,
During the last three years, when David Baird was boss of the state, it cost $96,000,000 to run the government, $24,000,000 more than when I was governor. Baird, as boss of the legislature, increased the burden of taxation. All he wants is more power to build up his political organization."
Moore spoke along the same lines at Merchantville and Gloucester.
|Camden Courier-Post - November 24, 1939|
from the column
Dan McConnell's Scrapbook
Countless times this former press agent sat in a box at the original Towers Theatre and watched vaudeville artists tickle the ivories on the stage grand piano. Perhaps the piano had a certain fascination for me becasue as a lad we often had a desire to be a pianist.
When the Broadway playhouse went dark and the elements and neglect had turned the place into a shambles we often wondered what was done with that same piano.
Ed Sackett, former vaudeville trooper and now a prosperous business man, recently informed this department that the piano has a favorite spot on the living room of his Collingswood home. Ed bought the instrument for the proverbial song and had it put back into shape.
Both Ed and the writer tried to recall the many show folks who at some time played the same piano. There was Jimmy Jones, who was pianist for Vaughn Comfort, the "American Tenor. Still another was Leo Beers, who did a piano-talking skit, with some fancy whistling included.
Not forgetting Camden's own Don Traveline and Jim McWilliams, who now is an established radio favorite with his "Uncle Jim's" quiz program. Other piano acts that played the Towers included Bert Howard and Leona Bland and Bert William and Hilda Wolfus.
July 4, 1941
|Camden Courier-Post * July 4, 1941|
|Rookies On Parade|
|Camden Courier-Post * July 25, 1941|
Palmer & His Magic Kettle
- Alf's Loyal Stallions
Al Stone & Ann Lee "The Nitwits of Hits"
Joseph Milekof and Band
Lady From Louisiana
CAMDEN Movie theaters
RETURN TO DVRBS.COM HOME PAGE