Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Old Jokes from Cuba City Students

To help us celebrate National Tell an Old Joke Day, we have this segment from the Senior Sentinel, a newsletter recapping the 1931-32 school year at Cuba City High School.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Buy a Valiant at Brown Motor Co.

Brown Motor Company was in business for many years in Cuba City. In the early 1960s, many of the company's advertisements, like the one below, were pushing the Plymouth Valiant.

Advertisement from the Dubuque Telegraph Herald (June 22, 1962)

The former location of Brown Motor Co. is now occupied by Hughes Body Shop, across from Thompson's IGA.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Cuba Theatre history

Janet Schmieder wrote this history of the Cuba Theatre as a high school student in 1966, when the business was owned and operated by her parents. The movie theater was located at 113 S. Main St., in the building now occupied by State Farm Insurance and Newline Real Estate. This history is packed full of interesting details, so sit back and enjoy! 

Janet Schmieder


The building which is now the Cuba Theatre was built in 1919 by Will Marshall. He built the building to be a meat market, Mr. Marshall was a butcher. The building was two stories and the upper story was built adequately for Masonic Lodge meetings.

Due to old age, Mr. Marshall decided to sell the building. Mr. and Mrs. Skelding bought the building, he remodeled it, and turned it into a theatre. The dark green carpeting which was put into it came from the Morrison Hotel in Chicago.

The theatre opened in 1936, this was quite an event for Cuba City to have a theatre. Cuba City had a big celebration opening day. The band played, a platform truck was placed in front of the theatre, and speeches were given by almost every fraternal order in Cuba City. There were very large crowds opening night.

After two or three years, Mr. Skelding decided the building wasn't big enough but didn't have the money to build on. At this time the theatre contained approximately 200 seats. He sold half interest to Henry Kellner, and added room for about 100 more seats. Later Kellner bought out Skelding's interest.

It may seem funny to us today, but the theatre didn't allow popcorn or candy into the building, none of the theatres at this time allowed eating inside.

In 1944 or 1945, the movie industry put on a promotion drive. The slogan was "Movies are Better Than Ever." There was a big parade in Madison with many many movie stars. Theatre owners went to find out more and better ways to promote their business. From Madison, movie stars were sent to all the theatres in Wisconsin as a part of the campaign. To Cuba City came Arlene Dahl and Richard Arlen.

On July 1st, 1947, Leo Gohlmann purchased the theatre from Henry Kellner.

Since the Masonic Lodge was no longer in the upper story, Mr. Gohlmann remodeled the upstairs. He divided the area into offices. Doctor King had an office up there and two lawyers by the names of Hillery and Harvey Skewis. The Modern Beauty Parlor was also located in the upper story.

 Cuba Theatre, ca. 1951. Photo courtesy of the City of Presidents.

While Mr. Gohlmann operated the theatre, the prices of the tickets were much less than what they are today. Children's tickets were 15 cents and adult tickets were 35 cents. These ticket prices were raised gradually, and while Mr. Gohlmann had the theatre, adult tickets were raised to 44 cents, the odd number was because of a tax which is no longer on tickets. There was no student ticket price at this time.

Six or eight months after he owned the theatre, Mr. Gohlmann put in a concession stand, since before this they never allowed candy and popcorn into a theatre. The stand was put in circus style with pictures of clowns on one wall and red and white painted accessories. This included a candy counter and a popcorn machine.

To attract more business, Mr. Gohlmann had live attractions on the stage. Such things were held as: 4H club winners showed the ribbons they won; he held a dress-up contest and a bathing beauty contest for children up to twelve years old. He also had a photographer take pictures of babies to be entered in a Most Beautiful Baby contest and showed these pictures on the screen as an added attraction.

Often Mr. Gohlmann held special showings of certain movies for the nuns, free of charge, who lived in the surrounding towns. He said he often filled the theatre with sisters.

 Cuba Theatre, ca. 1953. Photo courtesy of the City of Presidents.

The movies at this time were almost all black and white, and it was a treat to see a colored movie. The screen that was used then was approximately eight by ten in size.

Among Mr. Gohlmann's employees were: Diane Donohue, Pat Cox, Donna Curtis, and Charolett Kanick who were cashiers. Norma Miller, Donna McCabe, and Patricia Ware worked in the concession stand selling popcorn and candy. Barney Holgraver was a janitor for a short time, but Henry Holt was the janitor almost all the time Mr. Gohlmann owned the theatre. Paul Latham, Bill Honshel, and Paul Cummins operated the projectors, all while he owned the theatre.

In September, 1954, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Schmieder bought the theatre from Leo Gohlmann.

The businessmen in Cuba City put on a free show for the grand opening. The theatre had always been open every night as a general rule, but after owning the theatre awhile, they decided it would be better to have a show five days a week, Sunday Matinee, Sunday Evening, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. But later, it was reduced again to what we have now, operating only on weekends.

 Cuba Theatre movie poster, ca. 1955.

In the year 1956, the cinemascope lense was put in new and a new giant screen which covers the front from wall to wall. In order to do this, the heating duct work had to come up through the roof and over the roof and then back in again, so as not to interfere with the screen.

At about the same time, the upstairs was remodeled and made into two apartments, one apartment is small, two rooms, bedroom, and living room with a small kitchenette and small washroom, this apartment is in the front facing Main Street. The back apartment is larger with two bedrooms, a large living room, a kitchen, a bath, and a room for a washer and dryer. Both apartments were fully furnished.

Coupon printed in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, December 1, 1957.

In about 1958, new carpeting was required for the main aisle in the seating section.

The people who worked for Mr. Schmieder were, starting with the cashiers: Pat Cox, Norma Miller, Charolett Kanick, Judy Dawson, Marie McWilliams, Carol Schmieder, Mary Jean Chunk, Jo Anne Alt, Sandy Fiedler, Peggy Speth, and Carol McWilliams. Those who worked in the concessions were: Nippy Harty, Iva Andrews, Joan Udeloven, Joyce McWilliams, Carol Schmieder, Janet Schmieder, and Becky Loeffelholz. Projectionists were: Paul Cummins, Bill Honshel, Arnie Alt, Bob Boyd, Junior Marzofka, and Ken Booth. Cleaning ladies were: Mrs. Schulte, Mrs. Munyon, Mrs. Belken, Mrs. Shinn, and Mrs. Lewis & daughter.

When Ed Schmieder first owned the theatre, he used to send out free tickets for patrons' birthdays. He kept a record of everyone's birthday. This soon became very difficult because of the increasing population and the increase in postage rates.

The price of tickets ranged from 15 cents for children and 35 cents for adults, when it was first purchased. Later, a student price was started which was about 35 cents. These prices were raised slightly whenever an extra special movie was shown. The prices rose a small amount at a time till they reached 75 cents for adults, 60 cents for students, and 35 cents for children.

At Christmas time every year, the businessmen in Cuba sponsored about four free shows the Saturdays before Christmas. On the Saturday before Christmas, Santa Claus appeared in front of the theatre to hand out free bags of hard candy and peanuts to every child.

Over the years, now and then, Ed Schmieder would hold special free showings of some movies the nuns might enjoy. Some of these were Lilies of the Field, The Nun's Story, and Mary Poppins.

Just last summer, about one hundred seats were recovered with blue vinyl. These seats were taken out a few rows at a time and taken over to Dubuque to an upholsterer. There were other minor fix-ups also, such as painting.

The newest in store for 1966 is complete recarpeting.

 Cuba Theatre movie poster, ca. 1967. Courtesy of David Schmieder.


1. Mr. Leo Gohlmann, Madison, Wisconsin

2. Mr. Ed Schmieder, Cuba City, Wisconsin

3. Mrs. Ed Schmieder, Cuba City, Wisconsin

4. Record books

5. Janet Schmieder, Cuba City, Wisconsin

6. Carol Schmieder, Dubuque, Iowa

Thank you to Janet (Schmieder) Simonian for sharing this information-packed history, and thank you to David Schmieder for the image of the Cuba Theatre poster. Thanks also to Carol Hendricks and Patty Holt for helping with this project!

Friday, July 6, 2018

1918 Movie Reviews, Courtesy of the Loeffelholz Brothers

What movies were Cuba City residents watching one hundred years ago?

Thanks to the film industry publication, Motography, it's possible to find out. Motography had a section called "What the Picture Did For Me," where theater owners commented on films and how they were received in their town. The reviews were meant to help other theater owners decide which films to select.

Cuba City's "theater" operators at the time--Charles and George Loeffelholz--were frequent contributors of movie reviews.  The Loeffelholz Brothers operated the Auditorium entertainment venue above their Ford garage ca 1917-1926. The building still stands on Main Street, across from City Hall.

 Image from the Cuba City Centennial history.

The following films played at Cuba City's Auditorium and were reviewed by the Loeffelholz Bros. in the March 23-June 29, 1918 issues of Motography:

The Price of Silence, with Dorothy Phillips -- "A fine picture. You can get the crowds with this."

The Slacker, with Emily Stevens -- "This picture broke all records. You cannot get another picture to beat it. Boost it big."

The Heart of Nora Flynn, with Marie Doro -- "A good picture. Film in good condition."

The Call of the Cumberlands, with Dustin Farnum -- "A good picture. This kind draws well."

Pudd'nhead Wilson, with Theodore Roberts -- "It's a great picture. A southern story, and it draws well."

Souls Triumphant, with Wilfred Lucas and Lillian Gish -- "If you book this picture, you can't go wrong. If you want good pictures, book Triangle features."

Sweetheart of the Doomed, with Louise Glaum -- "A splendid picture. Star excellent. This is Miss Glaum's very best."

The Desert Man, with W. S. Hart -- "It's a whirlwind. Book any of the Triangle Hart pictures and you can get the people into your theatre."

The Little American, with Mary Pickford -- "The best Pickford picture we ever received."

Draft 258, with Mabel Taliaferro -- "It's great. Boost it big."

Helene of the North, with Marguerite Clark -- "Although an old release, this picture is a good one."

Flame of the Yukon, with Dorothy Dalton -- "This is much better than The Spoilers. There is a real fight in it, too."

Time Lock and Diamonds, with William Desmond -- "A fine picture."

Wolf Lowry, with W. S. Hart -- "This is a good picture but not so good as other Hart releases."

The Bad Boy, with Robert Harron -- "A picture that every father, mother, son and daughter should see."

American, That's All, with Jack Devereaux -- "Full of mirth and pep."

The Clodhopper, with Charles Ray -- "A good picture, full of comedy."

Madcap Madge, with Olive Thomas -- "A good picture."

In Again, Out Again, with Douglas Fairbanks -- "It's great, chuck full of comedy."

Pride of the Clan, with Mary Pickford -- "The poorest Pickford picture we have received."

Destiny, or the Soul of a Woman, with Emily Stevens -- "A good picture. Good print."

The Food Gamblers, with Wilfred Lucas -- "A good picture, patriotic."

Borrowed Plumage, with Bessie Barriscale -- "Play O. K. but these costume pictures do not take."

Sudden Jim, with Charles Ray -- "A fine production. Ray has a chance to show his skill."

Wild and Woolly, with Douglas Fairbanks -- "A good picture and it drew a big crowd. Everybody pleased."

Snow White, with Marguerite Clark -- "A good children's play but does not please the older folks."

Rough House, with Roscoe Arbuckle -- "The best Arbuckle received here so far."

Master of His Home, with William Desmond -- "A good gold mining story. Triangle surely have the best of pictures."

Paddy O'Hara, with William Desmond -- "A war feature. Fine production and film good."

Golden Rule Kate, with Louise Glaum -- "A good western feature. Film in good condition."

Madame Bo-Peep, with Seena Owen -- "A fine feature. Scenes laid in the east and out west."

Wooden Shoes, with Bessie Barriscale -- "A fine Dutch picture. Scenery fine. Scenes laid in Holland."

The Americano, with Douglas Fairbanks -- "The best of Fairbanks' Triangle pictures. Drew a good crowd."

Back of the Man, with Dorothy Dalton -- "A good moral play."

Princess of the Dark, with Enid Bennett -- "The poorest of Miss Bennett's features."

The Square Deal Man, with W. S. Hart -- "A fine western feature. It pleased best of any of Hart's Triangle pictures."

The Iced Bullet, with William Desmond -- "A good mystery picture."

The Girl Glory, with Enid Bennett -- "A good picture. If you want good crowds, use Triangle features."

The Spirit of the Red Cross -- "The best picture of its kind we have shown. Two reels are not enough for a picture like this."

The Dumb Girl of Portici, with Pavlova -- "Look out for this. It's very poor."

The Little Yank, with Dorothy Gish -- "A picture of the Civil War. Pleased well."

They're Off, with Enid Bennett -- "A good race track story. It's a pleasing picture."

The Gun Fighter, with W. S. Hart -- "Not as good as Hell's Hinges and former pictures."

Jim Bludso, with Wilfred Lucas -- "Lucas has good drawing power."

Civilization -- "A good picture but we would rather have a picture like The Slacker.

Pendleton Round-up -- "A poor print, too dark."

Luke's Lively Life, with Lonesome Luke -- "The best comedy we have received for a long time."

Wee Lady Betty, with Bessie Love -- "A good Irish picture."

Grafters, with Jack Devereaux -- "Excellent."

The Fighting Trail,  with William Duncan -- "The best serial we ever ran. We have run episodes one, two, and three, but we can judge from this what kind of picture it is."

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tucker's Tavern

Take a trip down memory lane with this photo collection. Tucker's Tavern was owned and operated by Albert and Leone Droullard and later, Walter and Maxine Droullard. It was located in the building now occupied by Hindu's Corner Bar, at the intersection of Main and Webster Street. Very few of the people in these photographs have been identified, so please share if you recognize someone!

 Walter "Tucker" Droullard (left), Maxine Droullard (center).

Walter "Tucker" Droullard in coat, with cigarette.

Maxine Droullard.

According to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald's classifieds, it looks like Tucker's Tavern got a new back bar and stools in 1967, which could have been the reason for these photos.

 Maxine Droullard

 Maxine Droullard

 Sylvester and Pearl Banfield seated at the bar.

 Maxine Droullard.

 Maxine Droullard

Tom Droullard seated at bar. 

 Thank you to Steve Murphy for his help in sharing these photos.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Loeffelholz Brothers Ford Float


This patriotic float advertised the Loeffelholz Brothers Ford dealership, which is the building visible in the background. The building still stands on Main Street today, across from City Hall. Hannah Loeffelholz Laird, daughter of co-owner Charles Loeffelholz, is on the float. Brothers Charles and George Loeffelholz operated the Ford Garage and Auditorium from ca.1917-1926.