Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Gerard Theater--A Childhood Memory

Whenever I consider my elementary and junior high school days, the Gerard Theater, once located in West View, Pennsylvania comes to mind. I have spent some time researching this old West View landmark and have found very little. Hopefully, a reader or family member will be able to supply me with photos to enhance this blog.

The Gerard was located on Perry Highway, right smack dab in the center of West View, nestled between other businesses. It was a short ride by car from our house and I was able to walk there in the later years of elementary school.

It was my first introduction to movies on the large screen and in color. We did have a television back in the early 1950's, but it was black and white and the screen, as I remember, was pretty small.

Many Saturday's were spent down at the Gerard with my best friend and neighbor, Ruthie. A decent sized bag of popcorn was only a dime back then and, if you were lucky, there might be a small slip of colored paper down near the bottom of the bag which entitled you to a FREE bag of corn.

I think we were probably given 50 cents for the day. The ticket in was 25 cents, 10 cents for the popcorn, 10 cents for a pop and then we would pool the two nickels to make the call home for a ride. Now the trick....we would make the call, let it ring twice and hang up. That was the secret signal. Then Ruthie and I would have the two nickels to each buy a candybar for the ride back.

There were some interesting features at the Gerard. The every other seat on the ends of the center section, both left and right, were large enough for two people to sit in.....appropriately called "love seats!" And, a somewhat unusual room, located upstairs, was the "cry room." This was a sizeable room on the second enclosed, with comfortable seats. Mom's with toddlers or crying infants could come to see the film and not bother the patrons in the main theater. Toddlers could run around the room at will. Once or twice Ruthie and I saw the film from the "cry room" just to give it a try.

My first 3-D movies were seen at the Gerard wearing those cardboard glasses with blue and red cellophane over the eye area. Terrific Japanese monster films like Rodan and scary dracula and vampire films were shown with regularity. Early cartoons, sci-fi , cowboy and beach blanket movies were favorites. And who could forget those Hitchcock thrillers. Usually there were news reels shown after the previews. Occasionally there were double feature afternoons....two movies for the price of one.

I saw movies at the Gerard from about 1952 until we moved in 1961. It was an important feature of my childhood. When my brother, who also went to Gerard, and I went back home over the holidays, we drove into West View. The theater is no longer there, but the building is and when we saw the long extension from front to back, we knew it was formerly the Gerard.


Some Gerard Theater History

The Gerard Theater opened it's doors on January 19, 1940.1 Soon after its opening, James H. Nash became the manager/owner a position he held until his death on May 26, 1963. Previous to owning the Gerard, James was a salesman for United Artists. An innovator, he added a nursery for preschool children and then the "cry room" in 1945.2 He wanted mothers with young children to be able to attend the movies and not have to worry about a babysitter.

Six months after his death the theater was sold to Robert McConnell and it became a dance hall/roller skating rink for the local teens.3 This enterprise did not last long as in January, 1965 the building was sold to Flooring Specialists, Inc.4 On September 8, 1960 the West View borough offices were moved into the "old Gerard Theater building" and remained at the location until December 11, 1976.5

The newspapers on line do not trace the old Gerard Theater building past 1976. As you can see from the photo, there is currently a jewelry store housed there and from the sign, perhaps it has been there since 1995.


I probably visited the Gerard for the last time during the winter and spring of 1961 as we moved from the North Hills area to McCandless Township. Malls with modern movie theaters were close by and West View was a drive. Looking back though, it is the Gerard that is part of my stored childhood memories and not mall theaters. I guess that says something!


1. "Gerard Theater Will Open Tonight," Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 19, 1940, page 14.

2. "Mothers Can See Movies While Babies Cry," The Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 31, 1945, page 38. Newspaper photo of cry room!

3. "Gerard Will Become Dance Hall/Rink," North Hills News Record, Wednesday, November 20, 1963, page 1.

4. "Gerard Theater is Sold," North Hills News Record, Wednesday, January 6, 1965.

5. North Hills News Record, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, December 11, 1976, page 1.


Also owner of the Wexford Starlight drive-in....well then, me thinks there will be a continuation of this blog going forward into the 1960's!

© 2009, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

Wordless Wednesday--745 Washington Drive

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Carnival of Genealogy, 87th Edition--Genealogy New Year's Resolutions

The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: New Year's Resolutions! This year is almost over and a new decade is knocking on the door. This is the perfect time to make your New Year resolutions, goals, aims, declarations, intentions, aspirations, objectives, plans, targets, schemes, wishes, or whatever you want to call them! Figure out how you're going to approach your family history research next year, write it up, and share it with us in the COG. Thank you to Creative Gene for hosting this COG.

As the year closes on 2009, I have been thinking of what was accomplished this year in the genealogy side of my life and what I need to improve in 2010.

1. This year found me struggling to migrate my genealogy home page from one place to another. During the migration I realized how outdated much of the information was, how poor the resolution of the photos were and that many of my branches were not even mentioned. I hope that in 2010 I will make the time to continue improving the Linda Hughes Hiser Home Page for Genealogy.

2. I made a valid attempt to get more of my sources on my Family Tree Maker program, however I have so much more to do.

3. As a contributor out on Find-A-Grave, I have hundreds of new entries that are waiting for me to find the time to add online. The photos are taken and need to be resized.

4. I have so enjoyed blogging on Flipside and meeting all the wonderful geneablogger family. I hope to be able to continue in 2010 with the gusto of 2009.

5. I began several series on Flipside and I hope to continue writing on them. Stories in Stone and Growing up Hughes have been personally rewarding to research and write.

6. I have a need to make more time in the evening to catch up with the blogs of my fellow geneabloggers….reading and making comments.

7. I hope to reacquaint with new relations through the Internet. To accomplish this I need to work harder to follow up leads on various websites and e-mailing those who are working on my branches out on ancestry.

8. Ancestry….I need to get back to my genealogy work on that site and continue documenting….documenting….documenting.

9. Photo scanning. A project I began this year, but I have so many more to do.

10. Reorganizing my genealogy hard copy. I have my computer genealogy files in pretty decent order, but my hard copy files are a disaster. I need new and better file folders and need to clear out more space in my file cabinet so what I have is not so smashed together.

And finally, last but probably first.....I REALLY have a need to clean up my computer work space. I think Randy had a SNGF months ago asking for photos of our workspace. I was too embarassed then to do the post and most assuredly, it is even worse now ;-)

I think my work is cut out for me this year. How can I ever accomplish this….find the time…..without quitting my job? Good question!

© 2009, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

Monday, December 28, 2009

Allegheny County Memorial Park--A Holiday Visit

Yesterday we visited Allegheny County Memorial Park....the three Hughes kids and my husband, Ted. It was a day set aside to pay our respects to those in our family who have passed and they are all buried in the same cemetery in Allison Park, Pennsylvania.

A poinsettia was placed at Mom's burial place in the mausoleum. We sang her favorite Christmas hymn, O Come All Ye Faithful and read from Ecclesiastes--For Everything There is a Season.

Jeff had stopped at Antietam on his way west and purchased a union hat and flag. He fashioned, with wire, a civil war memorial appropriate for our Dad...a civil war buff.

Finally, I was able to purchase a holiday wreath for our Grandmother Stark aka Teek. Somehow in the hustle and bustle of the fall, I neglected to send in the money and form for her wreath. She died back in 1971 and has ALWAYS had a Christmas wreath.

There are numerous family and extended family members as well as friends buried at Memorial Park. We drove around visiting everyone. It was to be a solemn time of reflection and memory.

© 2010, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Family Graduation

     I am pleased to announce that my youngest son, Garrett, has graduated from Lorain County Community College this semester. He has made application to Cleveland State University for the summer semester. Declared major will be English. Garrett has a genuine talent for writing.

     Tonight family and friends gathered at Henry's at the Barn in Avon, Ohio for a celebratory dinner.

Congratulations Garrett.

© 2009, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

Friday, December 25, 2009


Merry Christmas from Flipside

Wishing you Love, Joy



Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 1999--In Memory of Mom

This will be a day of reflection for my family combined with joyous memories. My mother loved the Christmas season. The cards, some cookie baking, the parties and finding the just the right gifts for her beloved family. Perhaps it is oddly appropriate that cancer took her from us a decade ago on the eve of Christmas.

We Hughes kids were somehow clueless about her condition. Were we too wrapped up in our own lives? Mom had had surgery that June. She had returned from a trip to see Jeff and had stayed in Old Alexandria, Virginia, a place that she dearly loved.....against better judgement. The cancer had spread....most of it was removed.....but there was the long haul of chemo and bandaiding her daily life back together.

Always the courageous one.....the show must go on....she fought daily, keeping any pain and sorrow to herself. She pushed forward to graduations, family events, until she could not go further.

I should have known on her birthday, December 4. When I arrived her refrigerator had decided to stop working. Dealing with it was beyond her power. A fast call to an appliance dealer, purchasing one sight unseen, rattling off a credit card number was my simple fix. Once the new one was delivered, I took her out for her birthday lunch. A frustrating morning turned into a delightful a cherished memory.

Several days later she was admited to the hospital. We followed the progress....everything seemed okay......but as Mom would have it.....not wanting to spoil our holiday......the truth was kept from us.

She waited.....waited until the three of her kids could be with coming from finishing his last teaching getting the holiday preparations finalized. We stood around her bedside on Christmas Eve, chatting of holidays past, laughing at the many funny times together. We were told that Mom would be moved up to another floor and that we could bring in a little tree and have our family carol sing-a-long there on Christmas Day. We kissed goodbye, Mom put on her walkman headset with her favorite carols playing and the three Hughes kids left to make "Christmas Day in the hospital together," a reality.

Several hours later the hospital called to say that Mom needed us. Three cars headed out from North Olmsted.....Ken and Jeff in one, Aric and Garrett in another, my husband and I in the third. Clueless....absolutely clueless.

As I was walking down the hallway towards the hospital room, Ken was walking back to meet me. "She's gone" was all he said. I replied, "Oh, they have moved her upstairs?" I was wrong and I was right.

A predominant theme running through the two memorial services was that Mom wanted to be home for Christmas. It was at her church in Lakewood that the minister's final comment was, "For those of us in the Christian faith, she was home for Christmas....her heavenly home."

In the months that followed, as I was packing up her belongings and getting her condo ready to sell, I found this little poem attached to a piece of art work hanging in Mom's living room. I have held it and it's message close all these years. It typifies her exuberance for life.

This Christmas Eve will find the three Hughes kids together at a Christmas service. Ken will be up on stage playing. Following the service, weather permitting, the congregation will be outside with candles singing Silent about the time Mom passed a decade ago. Will there be a dry Hughes eye? Probably not.

Written in Memory of Martha Jean Stark Hughes

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday--My Mom, Martha Jean Stark Hughes

My mother, Martha Jean Stark Hughes, daughter of Charles Edward Stark and Martha Marie Frederick. Mom was born in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on December 4, 1921. She had just turned 78 before she died on Christmas Eve, 1999 in Lakewood, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

This Christmas Eve is the 10th anniversary of her death.

Martha Jean Stark Hughes on Findagrave

Monday, December 21, 2009


Cream Cheese Bandit--Kolacky, A Hiser Cookie Tradition

There is a milk product addict who lives in my house. I am amazed at the speed that a household of three folks can consume cheese, sour cream, milk, ice cream and cream cheese. Granted I do use many of these products weekly in meals, but still I'm only talking about three people.

This lactose tolerant person loves, in particular, cream cheese. Cream cheese in any any dinner.....or just plain on a cracker....suits him to a "T".

At Christmas the kolacky/kolache is a MUST HAVE. He has cultivated a taste for this treat since childhood. I have learned over the years that it must be strawberry filled having tested other types of fruit fillings. No cherry, blueberry, apricot or prune.

Rolled and cut cookies are always the last on my holiday list. This past week was the day to make the kolache dough. I set out the butter and cream cheese to soften while at work.

And left a note......

My household cream cheese bandit made comment when I returned that evening that he did not open the two packages sitting on the counter...with a hardy laugh.

Last night, after work, the baking began and sure enough, the aroma of those kolacky baking was strong enough to bring him downstairs.....away from his computer and swipe a few warm and freshly powder sugared confections.

This recipe was given to me by a good friend when the boys were in elementary school in the late 1980's. Oddly, her maiden name was also Hughes.


1-3 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 pound butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup flour
1 can of Solo brand pastry and dessert filling, flavor of your choice

Mix all ingredients.
Shape into a ball and chill overnight.
Roll dough out onto a floured board
Cut into small squares
Fill with desired filling (I use the Solo brand)
Overlap the filled dough and pinch opposite corners.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes

Sprinkle with powdered sugar while warm
Resprinkle with powdered sugar to serve

Advent Calendar Day 21--Christmas Music

I've been waiting for this one! Christmas music was a staple in our house all during the holiday season. There was a sizeable selection of LP's.....Bing Crosby....Frank Sinatra....various choirs.....and "Now is the Caroling Season" and album by Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians.

I think this was my Mom's favorite and she played in continually during the day. The songs were embedded in my mind. Even when the three of us kids became adults, the album received alot of play time. Since I didn't have the album, I decided to tape it back in the 70's. The tape became part of my children's memories as I played is continually during the day....just like Mom!

Several years back I decided I had a need to have the LP and even a CD of that album. After taking a spin around Ebay, I found and bought both. Good thing as the tape wore out.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Opening a Memory Every Holiday Season--Family Christmas Tree Ornaments

My friend Paul gave me the idea for this blog during a facebook comment session. Each year I purchase an ornament for the house and when my son's were born, one for each of them. The ornaments are carefully dated and the name of the owner is written on the back. Some are just for fun, some commemorate an important event, some are very fragile, some are not. As in many families, ornaments are given as gifts by other family members, so we have tree decorations from grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandaunts and uncles and on and on. Forty years of tree decorations and growing.

Each holiday season, trimming the tree becomes a walk down memory lane. I usually don't have much, if any help, so it all falls to me. And, I don't mind, especially when it comes to hanging the ornaments. I love it. As I pull each one out of the box it's like opening a memory.

I decided to take a few photos of some of the ones currently on the 2009 tree. I only hang ornaments that are fairly sturdy since I have three cats who are extremely curious about Christmas trees and those shiny things hanging on the branches. The fragile glass ones live safely in a box.

© 2009, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

Friday, December 18, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 3--Christmas Ornaments

The prompt for this advent day is heirloom ornaments. I am blessed to have a number of old ornaments from my ancestors. The three featured in this blog were given to me by my mother. She had them framed and they have graced my dining room for decades.

She seemed to know about these ornaments, which makes me wonder if they adorned her family's Christmas trees in the 1920's when she was a child. The ornaments would hold a piece of two of candy and then hung on the tree to be opened on Christmas Day.

© 2009, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

Advent Calendar Day 18--Christmas Stocking

The you still have your Christmas stocking?

Christmas 1956

The answer......Yes I do!

Christmas 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday--Christmas Tree Ornament

In the spirit of the holiday, I decided to feature an old Christmas tree ornament that I can remember hanging on our trees back in the 1950's and into the 1960's. I was fascinated by the movement of the small metal piece inside the plastic housing. Heat generated by the rather large Christmas tree light bulbs of that era, powered the metal and made it spin.

In Cleveland we have a shop on Clifton Boulevard....The Flower Child.....that decorates and sells 1950-1970's stuff. Any time of year is like a walk down memory lane for me, but Christmas is simply the BEST. Several years back I was circulating around the shop with my son, Aric, and saw one of these old treasured memory ornaments hanging on a line in front of the cash register. It was one of those purchases that was almost an....I don't care what the price is......! Fortunately, it was not too

It is now always front and center on my holiday tree and it continually evokes memories of Christmas' past.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blog Caroling: Oh Come All Ye Faithful

I submit this Christmas Carol in memory of my mother, Martha Stark Hughes. It was perhaps her favorite Christian holiday song. In part because her father, Charles Edward Stark, was referred to as "Old Faithful" by the minister of the family church.

A year or so before she passed, we began a tradition of singing Christmas songs as a family on Christmas Eve. Ken, our musician, put together song books, worked up all the arrangements, brought his guitar and a joyful songfest was begun. Unfortunately the first year, when it came to "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," we decided to jazz it up a bit. WRONG.....we totally upset Mom. Lesson learned....don't mess with that carol.

Following her death on Christmas Eve 1999, we sang at her gravesite each and every Christmas season one song.....

Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful
By: John F. Wade

Oh, come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant!
Oh, come ye, oh, come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold himBorn the king of angels:
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

Highest, most holy,
Light of light eternal,
Born of a virgin,
A mortal he comes;
Son of the Father
Now in flesh appearing!
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to GodIn the highest:
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given!
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing!
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

Hymn # 41 from Lutheran Worship
Composer: John F. Wade
Tune: Adeste Fideles
1st Published in: 1767

© 2009, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday--Charles Edward Stark and Martha Marie Frederick Stark

This is the graveplate of my maternal grandparents, Charles Edward Stark and Martha Marie Frederick Stark. They are buried in Allegheny County Memorial Park, Allison Park, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Section B322, grave 1 and 2.

Charles was the son of Charles Stark and Wilhelmina Catherine Schwarz Stark. He was born in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on September 23, 1880 and died in Bellevue, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on January 24, 1945 at the age of 64 years.

Martha Marie Frederick Stark was the daughter of Alfred Frederick and Lucinda Orr Frederick. She was born on April 8, 1880 in Columbiana County, Ohio and died in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on January 6, 1971 at the age of 90 years.

Monday, December 14, 2009

86th Editon of the Carnival Of Genealogy Part 2--Santa Letter

It's been a long time since I wrote a letter to Saint Nick. I think I've been pretty good this year. I have kept in touch with all my cousins both near and distant. I migrated my genealogy home page from geocities to yahoo. I have worked to add more branches to my tree along with sources, photos and documents. I added numerous new names and photos to findagrave and I have worked on my Family Tree Maker database, adding source material that I have neglected to document over the years.

Probably the best genealogy item this year has been joining geneabloggers and actually spending time writing genealogy blogs. I have begun many projects in my life and they usually fall by the wayside, but blogging has been fun. I have met so many wonderful new folks and I am still with it almost a year later.

So my Wish List for this year

1. To finally find out where my maternal great grandfather Alfred Frederick actually get a hold of a death certificate would be nice.

2. To find some information....any information about Mary Louise VanGilder paternal great grandaunt.

3. That google continues to put out information on line in old books....especially books with my relations in them.

4. A photo of my paternal great great grandparents....Sampson Frum Pool and Sarah Harner Pool.

5. For some far flung relation to find me on the net and e-mail scans of photos or documents relating to any branch of my family.

Actually Santa, I would be happy with any detail no matter how small on any branch of my family....any piece that would just magically drop into my hands.

Thank you Santa


Advent Calendar Day 14--Fruit Cake

Thinking of fruit cake brings up old memories of my Dad's patients. Every Christmas our house became filled with homemade and store bought food gifts. There was always fruit cake...cakes in tins, cakes wrapped in aluminum foil, cakes in plastic wrap with a red bow on top. I think my Dad actually ate fruit cake, but the three of us kids just looked at it with disgust.

There was one date and nut cake/bread that we received every year, until the patient died. It was one that I loved and somehow I did manage to get the recipe. I don't think I have ever tried to make it....maybe I should.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 1--Christmas Tree

The tradition in the 1950's Hughes family was a real tree. We did not go out into the woods with axe in hand. Rather we usually drove to the local nursery and purchased one that was already cut and tied with twine. Looking at the trees in the few 1950's photos that I have, they certainly do not fall into the "perfect shaped tree" category. My Mom would go all out decorating the house with real pine and a large assortment of holiday bric-a-brac. I always thought it looked W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L.

My amazement as an adult, looking back at those photos is the tinsel. That job was my Dad's. It took him hours as he meticulously took each aluminum strand and carefully laid it over the beside the other. It was and still is, a sight to behold. The tree did not have a great deal of ornamentation other than the tinsel, but as the years went by lights, balls and handmade decorations began to grace the tree.

Probably one of my favorite memories of the tree was the train that ran under it. My Dad loved his model train. It was not something that was present during the rest of the only came out at Christmas. Each year he would add new plasticville model buildings and a couple of new cars and/or engines. In the scheme of things, it was pretty rudimentary....but I loved to play with it. I can't remember it under our 1960's trees, but he did continue to add cars and buildings to an HO set and then in the 1980's he went to an even smaller model.

Before my Mom died in 1999, I spent a long evening interviewing her and getting it all on tape. One of her vivid memories of the Hughes Family Christmas, that would be my grandparents George Henry and Sarah VanGilder Hughes, was their holiday parties. It was pretty typical of Grams and Pop Pop to have lots of family and friends in before Christmas. After a meal and drinks, they would decorate the tree. My mother's exact quote from the tape transcription, "There were big Christmas parties, everyone drank and then decorated the tree by throwing tinsel and balls on, or at, the tree. The whole gang would decorate."

I have to chuckle everytime I read this....Grams and Pop Pop did love to have folks in. My grandfather would frequently come home from work or even a walk uptown bringing a friend or two for dinner and Grams would have no forewarning. I think growing up with a mother that ran boarding houses fully prepared Grams for the unexpected guest (s).

Mom decorating the tree mid 1960's with Jeff snapping a shot
and an unknown person snapping both of them

Early 1970's Christmas Tree

Perhaps growing up with the older generations tree decorating "free for all" is what made Dad decide that his trees would be carefully adorned....and they were. Into the 1960's and beyond, the decorating was left to us kids and then as a teen, my brother Jeff, pretty much single handedly decorated the tree.

© 2009, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser