North Carolina Newspapers

    /'■ '
/ Only the town’s old timers re
member that New Bern once had
an honest to goodness movie studio
Long before Hollywood came in
to its own, the Acme Film Company
was in operation here. It came into
being in 1919, and lasted a year
and a half, turning out one-reel
comedies, animated cartoons, and
at least two newsreels.
Many a change has occurred in
the industry since then, but some
of the selfsame methods used are
still utilized by screen moguls. Even
the recognized genius of Holywood,
Walt Disney, is treading a trail
b^zed locally long ago.
It all started when Ben Strausser
and his wife blew into New Bern
from New York City, and let it be
known that they would like to open
a studio here. Strausser was no
greenhorn at the business, and Dr.
E. C. Armstrong decided to back
They went into business in the
old Ghent casino, and shortly there
after were producing a series of
Blacky Spade comedies that had
theater goers in stitches. Even in
their crudity the films were more
humorous than some of the stuff
you see today.
A J^anese camera man, whose
name escapes us, joined the Straus-
sers in due time. He excelled at his
profession, and soon the Pepsi
Cola Company, founded here be
fore World War I, was clamoring
for animated ads to flash on
screens far and wide.
That’s when New Bern’s own
Marcus Blonck joined the staff.
Marcus was a cartoonist of lio mean
ability, and pretty soon the Fire
stone Company and the manufac-
ttirers of Willard batteries were
ordering advertising too.
Block made the lay-outs and
created the animation. Then two
girls filed in the drawings. That’s
the way Disney does it, even to
this day. The cartoons wefe then
photographed in black and white.
Color, of course, didn’t come along
until many years later.
Although the Ghent casino
wasn’t built with a movie studio in
mind, it was enclosed on all four
sides with glass panes and worked
out very well. The casino was built
off the ground, leaving room un
derneath for a laboratory to de
velop an^, print films.
Tanks that were six feet in
diameter were used. Film to be
developed was placed on large
wooden reels, revolved in 12 inches
of solution, and then transferred to
other reels to dry.
In making printed film, virtually
the same process was followed. Be
lieve it or not, the Acme folks
could take picture at 3 o’clock in
the afternoon, and have them on
the screens of New Bern theaters
by 6 P. M.
Strausser represented Pathe
News, and two of his filmings here
got national distribution. One was
* of a train that went overboard
when the Neuse river trestle gave
way, while the' other was the
launching of a concrete boat at
the shipbuilding yard on North
Craven street.
We had our own local stars in a
home made movie too. David John
son, an exceptionally handsome
motorman for Callie McCarthy’s
trolley cars, was the hero, and in
cidentally, just about every gal in
town had a crush on him. Zora
Styron, as we remember, was th’e
For the life of us, we can’t re
call the villain, but we do remem
ber that'a dummy was tossed from
the top of the Elks Temple during
the movie’s most exciting sequence.
Strausser was eventually con
vinced that New Bern was too far
from his market. Other studios,
such as Edison in Fort Lee, N. J.,
•Lubin in Philadelphia and Essay in
Chicago were beating him to the
punch. So, with reluctance, he
r/ie Nfw Bim
HAPPENED TO US ALL—you’re suffering today from
the consequences of eating far too much ^{uUtsgMng tur
key, and an extra serving of dressing, you aren’t by your
self. New Bern’s usually jovial Mayor, Robert L. Stallings,
Jr., looks downright miserable in the wee small hours, as
he stirs up a dose of soda In the kitchen of his home. Like
the rest of us, he didn’t know when to quit.—Photo bv Billy
Benners. ^
Quiet Reflection Prevailed
On Town's Thanksgiving Day
Another Thanksgiving Day has
gone into the annals of Time, and
for most New Bernians the occa
sion passed rather uneventfully.
Thanksgiving has been like that,
through the years, ever since the
Pilgrim Fathers celebrated their
first American harvest festival in
October 1621.
Christmas has its Santa Claus,
and Easter its Peter Cottontail,
but there is little of the jocular
about our annual obsenmnce of
national gratitude. We approach
it seriously, and in most cases
That’s why the day wouldn’t have
been, complete for many local
citizens, if they had failed to attend
the union services held yesterday
morning at Centenary Methodist
You don’t have to be a Methodist,
or a Baptist or a Presbyterian to
feel humble and grateful on
Thanksgiving morning. Denomina
tions and creeds may differ, but all
of us in our own way are aware of
the goodness of God.
Being aware isn’t enough, if we
have no sense of gratitude. For
tunately, gratitude is universal, al
though some of us are thoughtless
enough and selfish enough to be
less grateful than others.
Here in New Bern, and elsewhere
in the Land of The Free, we think
of Thanksgiving as a holiday
peculiarly American. Actually,
there were thanksgiving celebra
tions in the harvest season long
before America was discovered
and populated by the white man.
It was customary in England and
in other parts of the world to hold
special days of fasting and prayer,
and to celebrate with feasting and
thanksgiving the bounty of Nature
and the blessings of God.
New Bern, in its 249 years of
existence has for the most part
been a God fearing community, and
conscious of its gifts from Deity.
However, since Thanksgiving Day
for many years was a strictly New
Talent, No Temperament,
Brought Rosalie Happiness
Can two people of a creative and
artistic nature blend their respec
tive talents into a normal and en
during marriage?
New Bern’s Rosalie Smith ob
viously thought so, when she mar
ried Tom Liggitt, a Cherry Point
marine, and together they have
made it work out admirably.
In far-off Bakersfield, Calif., the
local musician and her writer hus
band are achieveing success in
their chosen fields, but more than
that they are providing a happy
home for themselves and their two
charming daughters, Judy and Ann.
“Tom began writing when he
pulled up stakes and departed.
That was the end of New Bern’s
movie Industry. Like the automo
bile industry attempted by Gib
Waters, it vanished for all time to
come. \
was in the Marine Corps during
World War II,’’ says Rosalie. “Al
though this war novel has not yet
been published, it led to the writ
ing of Pigeon, Fly Home—the novel
Walt Disney used as a basis for his
recent television show. The Pigeon
That Worked a Miracle.’’
“Pigeon, Fly Home’’ got fine re
views in the New York Times, Sat
urday Review, and many other
quality publications. The New York
Times listed it among its 100 best
adventure books, and about 700
copies of the novel were purchased
by the state of Ohio for schools
Encouraged, Tom submitted a
copy to the story editor at Disney
Productions. Disney bought the
rights from Holiday House. It was
two years before the film was pro
duced and released on television,
(Continued on Page 5)

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