CHAPTER 24 FOX PEOPLE: JOE PATTEN

FOX THEATRE, ATLANTA: THE MEMORY MAKER, 2009, NO AUTHOR

JOE WITH THE "PHANTOM" PIANO (PLAYED FROM THE ORGAN CONSOLE) CIRCA 1965 PHOTO SHOWS BRIGHT YELLOW AND RED-STENCILED MOHAIR TRAVELER CURTAIN

CHARLES WALKER INTRODUCED ME TO JOE IN LATE SUMMER, 1967, ON THE OCCASION OF MY FIRST BACKSTAGE TOUR OF THE FOX (WITH CHARLES HOLDING MY HAND AND THE KLEENEX) BACK WHEN JOE AS KEEPER OF THE ORGAN HAD A KEY TO THE STAGE DOOR AND A LIMITED RUN-OF-THE-THEATRE.

ME AS AN APPRENTICE FOR CHRIS MANOS' LAST "THEATRE UNDER THE STARS" SUMMER SEASON IN CHASTAIN WHERE I MET CHARLES WALKER. FRONT ROW, CENTER, OF COURSE.

SUBSEQUENTLY, I THINK TWO YEARS LATER, I CAJOLED MY DAD TO COME SEE THE PLACE. DADDY, A HARD-WORKING REAL-ESTATE ATTORNEY, WITH NO HOBBIES TO SPEAK OF, HAD LITTLE INTEREST IN THE BEHIND THE SCENES WORKINGS OF A MOVIE THEATRE WHICH HE HAD ATTENDED AS A CHILD, AND WHO WITH MY MOM HAD TAKEN WE THREE KIDS TO COUNTLESS PICTURE SHOWS THERE.

THAT WAS THE EPIPHANAL DAY I INTRODUCED DADDY TO HOUSE ORGANIST (AND MUSIC DIRECTOR/ MORNING DRIVE ANNOUNCER ON WSB-AM) BOB VAN CAMP AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, TO MISTER JOE PATTEN.

DADDY STOOD TRANSFIXED BY BOB VAN CAMP'S "REHEARSING" THE MOLLER ORGAN, WHICH MY FATHER HAD NOT HEARD SOUND SINCE THE EARLY 40'S WHEN HE WAS SEMI-PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN HIMSELF, AS VOCALIST AND REED PLAYER FOR "THE JUNIOR GEORGIANS" A NORTH FULTON HIGH SCHOOL "SOCIETY" BAND MEMBERED BY HIS BEST FRIENDS, INCLUDING BRUCE WOODRUFF WHO RECENTLY CROSSED OVER AND THE STILL AMONG US, TOM SCHNEIDER.

WHILE I RETURNED TO PREP SCHOOL UP NORTH, DADDY CONTINUED TO VISIT EACH SATURDAY AND SUNDAY BEFORE THE HOUSE OPENED FOR MOVIES, TOTING ALONG HIS OFFICE DICTAPHONE (THE EARLIEST CASSETTE MACHINE) TO RECORD VAN CAMP. SUCH WAS THE LOVE THAT SOME SIX YEARS LATER MY PARENTS COMMISSIONED ROSIE CLARK, A LOCAL ARTIST(AND "MISS BOO" ON WLW-A TV HERE IN THE 50'S) TO PAINT A PICTURE OF THE CONSOLE (DADDY'S CHOICE) INHABITED WITH OUR CAT "KITTY" (MOTHER'S CHOICE)-- "THE NINE LIVES OF KITTY FOREMAN"

JOE AT THE CONSOLE (WHICH HE CANNOT PLAY) CIRCA 1975

JOE AND LEE ERWIN, THEATRE ORGANIST AND COMPOSER IN NYC, 1996. (LEE DIED IN THE EARLY 2000'S) ATLANTA BOY BEN HALL, AUTHOR OF "THE BEST REMAINING SEATS" I HAD MET AT THE FOX IN 1969 WHEN HE HAD "LIFE" MAGAZINE THERE TO TAKE PHOTOS FOR A BIG SPREAD ON MOVIE PALACES.

HERE IS A LETTER BEN WROTE ME UP AT PREP SCHOOL WHERE HE SPEAKS OF LEE ERWIN AND BEN'S IMPLICIT NON-STOP DRIVE TO SAVE THEATRES AND THEATRE ORGANS AND AS CULMINATION OF THESE EFFORTS, HE FOUNDED THE THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY IN 1969. BEN HAD ALLOWED ME AND A TAFT BUD DAVE ADDOMS TO SEE A SHOW BACKSTAGE AT RADIO CITY IN 1969-- A LIFE-ALTERING EXPERIENCE; BUT BEN NEVER GOT TO SEE THE "LIFE" SPREAD FOR IT WASN'T PUBLISHED UNTIL 1971.
BEN HALL WAS FOUND MURDERED IN HIS CHRISTOPHER STREET APARTMENT IN 1970. IN AN ODD LOOP, ORGANIST LEE ERWIN, LIKE BEN AN NYC RESIDENT, PHONED JOE PATTEN IN ATLANTA ONE MORNING TO SEE IF HE HAD HEARD FROM BEN. "WHY, LEE?" "I'M WORRIED."

JOE PHONED DADDY AT WORK, BECAUSE BEN'S SISTER NANCY HALL ESKEW LIVED ON OUR STREET IN BROOKWOOD HILLS. DADDY PHONED MOTHER.

MOTHER, WHO WAS NOT A CASUAL CALLER, BUT WHO LOVED A NANCY DREW, WALKED THE SIX HOUSES UP AND TO MRS. ESKEW'S SURPRISE RANG HER BELL. "BETTY! ER, WOULD YOU LIKE SOME COFFEE?" "NO-- UH, HAVE YOU HEARD FROM YOUR BROTHER RECENTLY?"

"I SPOKE TO HIM JUST LAST NIGHT." "CALL HIM, NANCY."

THE NYPD ANSWERED.

"OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD OF AN HOMOSEXUAL," MY AUNT CAROLINE LATER REMARKED ABOUT THE MURDER, SHE HERSELF BRIEFLY MARRIED TO AN ALLEGED HOMOSEXUAL, MY UNCLE (AND W&L CLASSMATE OF BEN'S) ALEX HITZ, WHOM SHE DIVORCED TO MARRY ATLANTA SYMPHONY CONDUCTOR ROBERT SHAW.


HERE IS BEN, A SOUTHERN SHY AND FIERCELY INTELLIGENT G E N T L E M A N, RARELY PHOTOGRAPHED, FROM THE TRIBUTE FROM THE THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY'S QUARTERLY "MARQUEE."

JOE'S BIRTHDAY PARTY, FEBRUARY, 1976 IN GRAND SALON, LEFT TO RIGHT JOE, ME, MY MOTHERLEFT TO RIGHT, SITTING ON TERRAZZO FLOOR, LOYAL VOLUNTEER MITCH DEUTSCH; ON COUCH, ME, HOUSE MANAGER JON PERRY, AND PART OF VOLUNTEER RAY SPURLIN; STANDING, UNKNOWN AND INTERIOR DESIGNER BRUCE SUTKA, WHO WOULD BECOME THE FIRST FOX PRESERVATION HIRE.


JOE RECEIVING RECOGNITION FROM PHILIPS-NORELCO, ACCEPTING THEIR GIFT (WHICH HE FINAGLED) OF NEW VERTICAL SIGN LAMPS, 1976, PHOTO BY VOLUNTEER RAY SPURLIN

1982, ATLANTA WEEKLY



1989, AJC





JOE AND MY DAD HAD TEAMED TO SAVE THE BUILDING AND HAD BECOME FAST AND BEST FRIENDS. JOE WAS FREQUENTLY INVITED UP TO DADDY'S HOUSE IN HIGHLANDS, NC: HERE IN THE EARLY 90'S, DANIEL GRAHAM (MY STEP-BROTHER), ANNE FOREMAN (MY STEP-MOTHER) AND JOE1993, SOUTHERN LIVING


JOE AND I PHOTOGRAPHED BY MY DAD ON THE ROOF OF THE NEW YORK SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL, ASTOR PLACE, NYC, ON THE OCCASION IN 1996 OF AN ATLANTA LANDMARKS' TRIP TO THE CITY. I WAS DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS/CAPITAL PROJECTS.

1998, AJC

CIRCA 1999, AT THE FOX, JOE, ME AND SOME GIRL VIEW AND DISCUSS VARIOUS WAYS TO PRESERVE THE SHRINE DROP.

HERE IS THE SHRINE DROP, PHOTO (C) MICHAEL PORTMAN 1999

2008, AJC



ATLANTA LANDMARKS' RESOLUTION ON THE OCCASION OF JOE'S RETIREMENT AS TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, AUGUST 21, 2001.

FOR GREAT PHOTOS OF JOE'S FOX THEATRE APARTMENT, GO TO http://projects.accessatlanta.com/gallery/view/arts/0919fox/.

Uncredited photos taken by my Dad.