GRAND OPERA AND THE FOX STAGEHANDS

"EVERYTHING ABOUT THE FOX THEATRE IS KING-SIZED," ACCORDING TO NOBLE ARNOLD, THEATRE MANAGER FROM 1951 TILL 1969.

THE ARTICLE BELOW PROVES HIS POINT: SEVENTY-FIVE EMPLOYEES FOR A MOVIE HOUSE! OF COURSE, THAT WOULD BE A TOTAL FOR TWO SHIFTS, AS THE HOUSE OPERATED FROM ABOUT NOON TILL MIDNIGHT, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. THIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE, (JOURNAL, SEPTEMBER, 1950) GIVES THE COMPLEMENT AS FOUR PROJECTIONISTS, TWO ELECTRICIANS, 20 USHERS, TWO CHIEF USHERS, THREE DOORMAN, TWO ENGINEERS, A MANAGER, THREE ASSISTANT MANAGERS, TWENTY-FIVE CLEANERS, AND UNNAMED OTHERS FOR A TOTAL OF SEVENTY-FIVE, OR ABOUT 25 EACH FOR TWO OPERATING SHIFTS AND AN EARLY MORNING CLEANING CREW OF 25. THESE FIGURES DO NOT INCLUDE OPERATION OF THE SHRINE AREAS, EGYPTIAN BALLROOM AND SO FORTH.THE FOUR PROJECTIONISTS AND THE TWO ELECTRICIANS COMPRISED THE FULL TIME IA CREW. FROM OPENING ON CHRISTMAS DAY, 1929, THE FOX HAS BEEN AN IA HOUSE, INITIALLY LOCAL 41, NOW LOCAL 927. TWO PROJECTIONISTS WERE ON DUTY AT ALL TIMES, AND THE ELECTRICIAN (STAGEHAND) WOULD OPERATE THE HUB SWITCHBOARD AND THE MOTORIZED TRAVELER CURTAIN AND PERFORM MAINTENANCE AS DIRECTED. AT THE TIME THE FOX CLOSED AS A MOVIE HOUSE IN JANUARY, 1975, THESE MEN WERE HARRIS RAGSDALE AND SAM TAYLOR. SAM AND RAGS HAD A WOODEN BOX WHICH WOULD STRAP OVER THEIR SHOULDERS CONTAINING MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF LIGHT BULBS, AND THEY WOULD ROAM THE HOUSE RELAMPING.

WHEN THE FOX OPENED IN 1929, WITH STAGE SHOWS AND PICTURES, IT CAN BE GUESSED THAT THE FULL TIME IA CREW WAS AT LEAST 26, OVER TWO SHIFTS. I INCLUDE FOUR PROJECTIONISTS (COULD HAVE BEEN SIX-- THERE WERE THREE MACHINES); TWO AUDIO OPS (YES, THE FOX HAD A HOUSE PA FROM DAY ONE); FOUR ELECTRICIANS; FOUR CARPS; FOUR FLYMEN; FOUR PROP, AND FOUR WARDROBE. IN 2010 THE FOX HAS FIVE DEPARTMENT HEADS ON CALL (ELEC, CARP, FLY, AUDIO, PROP) BUT THEY ARE NOT PRECISELY "FULL TIME," FOR THEY ARE NOT CALLED IF THE HOUSE IS DARK. HOUSE MAINTENANCE HAS PASSED OUT OF IA JURISDICTION; EGYPTIAN BALLROOM IS NON-UNION.

"FOX GETS SCRUBBING FOR HIGHBROW AUDIENCE" (Atlanta Journal, May, 1952) GIVES AN IDEA OF THE IMPORTANCE THE FOX PLACED UPON THE OPERA'S VISIT. BILL JENKINS AND LATER JOHN STEMBLER, PART OWNERS OF THE BUILDING WERE ON THE BOARD OF THE PRESENTING ORGANIZATION, THE ATLANTA MUSIC FESTIVAL ASSOCIATION. JENKINS WAS A CLASSY GUY; IT IS SAID HE HAD A 35MM BOOTH INSTALLED IN THE SECOND FLOOR OF THE DRESSING ROOMS (GREEN ROOM) WHERE HE WOULD EXHIBIT STAG FILMS FOR THE PLEASURE OF A SELECT GROUP. OTHERWISE THE FIVE FLOORS OF DRESSING ROOMS WERE VACANT EXCEPT FOR THE OPERA'S YEARLY STAY. THIS WRITEUP DESCRIBES THE CLEANERS BEGINNING WORK AT 6AM, A MINIMUM OF 32 STAGEHANDS ON THE OPERA RUNNING CREW, AND AN AUGMENTED USHER STAFF OF 100, "TO SEAT THE 5000 IN FORTY MINUTES," ACCORDING TO MANAGER ARNOLD. AS HE POINTS OUT, MANY FIRST NIGHT PATRONS ALSO HELD TICKETS FOR SOME OR ALL OF THE OTHER PERFORMANCES, FOR THE MET PLAYED IN REP. MENTION IS MADE OF THE YELLOW AND RED STENCILED TRAVELER WHICH THE OPERA UTILIZED (IT WAS NOT RIGGED TO FLY) AND THE USE OF THE FIRE CURTAIN BEFORE AND AFTER EACH PERFORMANCE.


FROM THE CONSTITUTION OF MAY, 1964 THIS WAS THE FINAL PUFF PIECE ON THE FOX AND OPERA BEFORE THEY DEPARTED FOR THE CIVIC CENTER FIVE YEARS LATER. THE FOX WAS PROBLEMATIC TO THE MET IN TWO WAYS: TOO SHALLOW AND TOO WIDE. THE FOX STAGE WAS 36 FEET DEEP COMPARED TO THE OLD MET (FIFTY TWO FEET) AND AFTER 1966, THE NEW (ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-FIVE, INCLUDING UPSTAGE WAGON); AND TOO WIDE, WITH AN ALMOST EIGHTY FOOT PROSCENIUM OPENING, COMPARED TO FIFTY AT THE METS, BOTH OLD AND NEW. IN EVERY OTHER RESPECT, THE FOX WAS MORE THAN SATISFACTORY. RUDOLF BING, MET GENERAL MANAGER FROM 1951 UNTIL 1971 NOTES IN HIS 1972 AUTOBIOGRAPHY "5000 NIGHTS AT THE OPERA" THAT THE FOX HAD, "AN IMPOSSIBLE STAGE...BUT [HAD] STYLE, GRACE, AND GOOD ACOUSTICS. I WAS PARTICULARLY FOND OF IT BECAUSE THE HOTEL WHERE I STAYED [THE GEORGIAN TERRACE] WAS RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET, AND I COULD SIT ON THE PORCH IN A ROCKING CHAIR AND STILL BE "ON DUTY": IF ANYTHING HAPPENED IN THE THEATRE I COULD BE SUMMONED ALMOST AS QUICKLY AS IF I WERE IN THE AUDIENCE. NOW [1969] ALAS, ATLANTA HAS BUILT A NEW CIVIC CENTER, WITH A HALL ALMOST AS IMPRACTICAL AS THE OLD MOVIE HOUSE (THE ORCHESTRA PIT IS FAR TOO SMALL), MUCH LESS ATTRACTIVE, AND FAR FROM MY HOTEL." BING WAS QUITE HESITANT TO LEAVE THE FOX, AND IN FACT THE 1968 SEASON HE CHOSE TO PLAY THE FOX RATHER THAN THE NEW HOUSE EVEN THOUGH IT HAD BEEN COMPLETED.

IN AN APRIL, 1948 JOURNAL PHOTO, THE LOCAL CREW CAN BE SEEN UNLOADING ONTO THE STAGE FROM A TRUCK IN THE ALLEY, THE OCCASION BEING "CARMEN" WHERE SEVERAL OF THE TRAINS WERE DELAYED, NECESSITATING THE OPERA BEING PLAYED IN STREET CLOTHES, TO THE DELIGHT OF THE FIRST NIGHTERS. FRANCIS ROBINSON, THE MET'S PR MAN AND A SOUTHERNER WHO WAS MUCH BELOVED IN ATLANTA, EXPLAINS IN HIS BOOK "CELEBRATION: THE METROPOLITAN OPERA" (1979) THAT "THE CLOSEST THE COMPANY EVER CAME TO MISSING A PERFORMANCE SINCE [THE] SAN FRANCISCO [EARTHQUAKE] WAS ON TOUR IN 1948. SPRING RAINS WASHED OUT THE TRACKS ON THE MAIN LINE BETWEEN RICHMOND AND ATLANTA. OUR SECOND [COMPANY] TRAIN DID NOT ARRIVE UNTIL 6:30PM FOR AN 8:00 CURTAIN-- NOT TIME ENOUGH TO NOTIFY THE PUBLIC THERE WOULD BE A DELAY. LOOKING AS ONLY HE COULD IN WHITE TIE AND TAILS [THEN MET GM] EDWARD JOHNSON CAME IN FRONT OF THE CURTAIN AND BEGGED THE INDULGENCE OF THE AUDIENCE. IN THE SHUFFLE SOME OF THE BAGGAGE DIDN'T REACH THE THEATRE. RISE STEVENS [CARMEN] HAD HER COSTUME WITH HER, BUT THE COMPANY TRUNKS HADN'T ARRIVED. THE RESULT WAS A COSTUMELESS "CARMEN"--- IN STREET CLOTHES, NOT IN THE NUDE--- WHICH BEGAN AT 10 PM AND DIDN'T COME DOWN UNTIL ONE THE NEXT MORNING. MANY OLD-TIMERS SAID IT WAS THE MOST EXCITING "CARMEN" THEY EVER WITNESSED. THE STORY MADE FRONT PAGES AROUND THE WORLD. 'YOU GIVE A HUNDRED PERFECT PERFORMANCES,' MR. JOHNSON SAID RUEFULLY, 'AND NOBODY PAYS ANY ATTENTION TO YOU.'"

THE MET SPRING TOUR BORE ALMOST NO RESEMBLANCE TO WHAT IS THOUGHT OF AS "STANDARD TOUR PRACTICE" TODAY. UNTIL THE LATE 60'S, FOR INSTANCE, THEY TRAVELED BY TRAIN. IN SINGER ROBERT MERRILL'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY "BETWEEN ACTS" (1976) HE NOTES THAT "AFTER WORLD WAR TWO, THE MET TOURED SIXTEEN PRODUCTIONS WITH 500 PEOPLE IN PULLMANS (THE SCENERY AND EQUIPMENT MOVED ON TWENTY-SEVEN FLATCARS [SIC]); BY 1972, WE WERE DOWN TO EIGHT SHOWS, TRANSPORTED BY TRUCK, WHILE WE SQUEEZED IN TO TWO CHARTERED PLANES." (THE COMPANY OF FIVE HUNDRED INCLUDED THE PRINCIPAL SINGERS, THE CHORUS, THE BALLET, A HUNDRED-PIECE ORCHESTRA, THE STAGE CREW AND THE MANAGEMENT.)

RUDOLF BING CONTINUES, "WE TRAVELED ABOUT THE COUNTRY IN SPECIAL TRAINS, THE BIGGEST THING AFTER BARNUM AND BAILEY, EXCEPT THAT GIRAFFES DON'T GET HOARSE. IN 1959, WE NEEDED NO FEWER THAN TWENTY-SEVEN BOXCARS WITH US FOR THE PHYSICAL PRODUCTION. FROM BOSTON TO ATLANTA WAS TWO NIGHTS AND ONE DAY ON THE TRAIN. WE ALL ATE IN THE SAME DINING CARS. I NEVER KNEW WHAT WENT ON AT NIGHT..."

THE MET TOUR WAS FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT AS WELL FOR THEY PRESENTED NOT A ROAD SHOW, BUT THE NEW YORK SHOW, INCLUDING THE STARS AND THE ENTIRE COMPANY, NEW YORK COSTUMES AND WITHIN LIMITS, THE STAGE SCENERY. BING, AGAIN, "WE COULD NOT HOPE TO BRING THE THEATRICAL VALUES OF OUR BEST PRODUCTIONS IN NEW YORK, BECAUSE THE THEATRES WERE SIMPLY NOT EQUIPPED TO HANDLE OUR SOLID SETS--- IN FACT. . . WE HAD TO PREPARE SPECIAL [RELATIVELY] INEXPENSIVE 'TOUR SETS,' PAINTED DROPS THAT COULD BE HUNG ON THE WRETCHED STAGES WE PLAYED DURING THE TOUR."

THE IATSE ROAD CREW, THAT IS THE TRAVELING STAGE HANDS, WERE NOT "ROAD GUYS" BUT THE ACTUAL NEW YORK HOUSE HEADS.

DROPS TRAVELED ROLLED IN FULL SIXTY-FOOT WIDTH ON WOODEN BATTENS AND ATTACHED TO SYSTEM PIPES WITH METROPOLITAN DROP HOLDERS, A CLEVER DEVICE WHICH MADE DROP-HANGING INSTANTANEOUS-- NO TOOLS, NO TIES. THE MET TRAVELED WITH LIGHTING INSTRUMENTS, BUT, AT LEAST IN THE CASE OF THE FOX, USED THE HOUSE (HUB) SWITCHBOARD, AS CAN BEEN SEEN IN PHOTOS FURTHER ON.

THERE WAS STILL EVIDENCE OF THE MET WHEN THE FOX WAS SAVED IN 1975. WHEN JOE PATTEN TOOK ESTIMATES ON SANDING AND RE-STAINING THE STAGE FLOOR, IT WAS DISCOVERED THERE WERE THOUSANDS OF TACKS HAMMERED INTO THE DECK, TACKS WHICH THE MET HAD USED TO FASTEN DOWN THE GROUND CLOTHS USED IN EVERY PRODUCTION. THE TINY NAILS HAD TO BE HAND PULLED.

THE COMPANY TRAINS ARRIVED AT ONCE-PROUD DOWNTOWN ATLANTA'S TERMINAL STATION AMIDST MUCH HOOPLA; THE SCENERY TRAINS ARRIVED AND WERE PLACED ON A SIDING WITH NO FANFARE AT ALL, AS BELOW DESCRIBED (CONSTITUTION, MAY, 1956), AT THE CORNER OF BOULEVARD AND 10TH STREET. (THE PORTION OF BOULEVARD NORTH OF PONCE DE LEON WAS RENAMED "MONROE" IN THE EARLY 60'S BY MAYOR IVAN ALLEN IN AN EFFORT TO MAINTAIN ATLANTA'S RACIAL NEIGHBORHOOD DIVIDES.) IA HANDS WOULD UNLOAD THE HARD PIECES, ACCORDING TO LONG-TIME IA STAGEHAND LEE FREEMAN, ONTO 50 FOOT TRACTOR TRAILER "TRANSFER TRUCKS;" THE DROPS WOULD BE PLACED ON OPEN TRAILERS CUSTOMARILY USED TO TRANSPORT TELEPHONE POLES AND DRIVEN WITH SPECIAL PERMIT TO THE FOX. (THE ARTICLE NOTES SOME DROPS WERE TOO LONG (DEEP) FOR THE FOX AND HAD TO BE "TRIPPED.")

FREEMAN POINTS OUT THAT THERE COULD BE NO "PACK-BACK" OF EMPTY CASES ONCE AN "IN" WAS COMPLETE, FOR THE TRANSFER TRUCKS WERE LONG-GONE. ALL TOURING MATERIEL STAYED IN THE HOUSE; AND THIS WAS AT THE TIME WHEN THE STAGE LEFT "SHRINE DRESSING ROOM" TOWER, NOW CONSIDERED A NECESSARY STAGE ADJUNCT AND STORAGE FACILITY, WAS STRICTLY OFF-LIMITS: IT WAS LOADED WITH MOVIE-HOUSE CANDY AND POPCORN, THE CITY'S CENTRAL REPOSITORY OF RASINETS, ACCESSIBLE ONLY FROM THE ALLEY.

MENTION IS MADE OF THE STAGE RIGHT DRESSING ROOM TOWER PASSENGER ELEVATOR AS "SMALL AND OVERWORKED." THE ORIGINAL OTIS CAR WAS THE FIRST AUTOMATIC ELEVATOR IN ATLANTA, BUT PRIOR TO ITS REHAB IT COULD BE ERRATIC. ON ANY JOURNEY IT COULD, IF IT WISHED, ELEVATE ONE AT FULL SPEED, STOPPED ONLY BY THE TOP OF THE SHAFT, THEN IMMEDIATELY HURL ONE DOWN THE EIGHT FLOORS TO THE BASEMENT, BOUNCING ON THE PIT SPRING! THIS HEADY SENSATION YOUR AUTHOR EXPERIENCED MANY TIMES. THE MET HAD THE FOX HIRE AN OTIS MAN TO SIT IN THE PENTHOUSE FOR THE RUN OF THE ENGAGEMENT, SO THERE WOULD BE NO UNFORESEEN DIFFICULTIES.

AFTER THE INSTALL OF THE "LARGEST INDOOR CURVED CINEMASCOPE SCREEN IN THE WORLD" IN OCTOBER, 1953, STRIPPING THE HOUSE FOR THE MET BECAME A COMPLICATED AFFAIR. WITH THE FLAT SHEET, IT NEED ONLY BE FLOWN OR RELOCATED, AND THE MOVIE HORNS WOULD DESCEND ON THE MOVIETONE LIFT. CINEMASCOPE'S ATTENDANT THREE GIGANTIC ALTEC A-1 LOUDSPEAKER CABINETS ON TOWERS REQUIRED A TEN MAN CREW TO STRIKE, SO TO BE TRUCKED OFF-SITE FOR THE DURATION, AS THE JOURNAL PIECE BELOW OF MAY, 1964 DESCRIBES IN DETAIL. THE SEVENTY BY THIRTY CURVED SCOPE SHEET, MOUNTED ON AN EIGHT FOOT DEEP ANGLE-IRON FRAME, WAS SOMEHOW (CAREFULLY? GINGERLY?) HAULED UPSTAGE AND, ACCORDING TO JOE PATTEN (WHO TOOK TIME OFF FROM HIS DAY JOB TO WORK AS A HAND ON THE OPERA), FLOWN TO THE GRID ON ITS OWN MOTORIZED CHAIN HOISTS.

"WE TAKE PRIDE IN OUR OPERATION," SAYS FOX MANAGER NOBLE ARNOLD, ARGUABLY THE BEST MANAGER THE FOX EVER SAW; HE AND RUDOLF BING WHOSE TENURES NEATLY COINCIDED MADE A TEAM TO BE RECKONED WITH.

THIS CONSTITUTION ARTICLE OF MAY, 1956 CITES THE EIGHT FOOT DEPTH NUMBER, WHICH RAISES THE QUESTION OF THE ALREADY TOO-SHALLOW-FOR-THE-MET-STAGE WHITTLED DOWN TO TWENTY-EIGHT FEET. ONE ASSUMES THE SHEET WAS FLOWN NOT FULLY UPSTAGE, BUT A FEW FEET SHY, SO THAT THE FURTHEST UPSTAGE SYSTEM PIPES COULD BE UTILIZED.

APRIL, 1950 CONSTITUTION PHOTO SPREAD SHOWS LOCAL HANDS STRIPPING A HOUSE DRAPE; AN USHER BRIEFING FROM THE PIT; IA HOUSE MAN J.T MCMILLAN MAKING A DRESSING ROOM MIRROR "ADJUSTMENT;" WHILE ANOTHER HOUSE MAN J.M. CATES OPERATES THE FOUR-HUNDRED DIMMER INTERLOCKING RESISTANCE HUB SWITCHBOARD. "BOTH MCMILLAN AND CATES HAVE 'WORKED' THE OPERA FOR MORE THAN FORTY YEARS.'" THE MET PLAYED THE DOWNTOWN MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM FROM 1910 UNTIL 1942, WHEN THE WAR PUT THE KIBOSH ON THE SPRING TOUR.

LEE FREEMAN'S DAD O.L. "SNOOKY" FREEMAN IS MENTIONED IN THIS MAY, 1959 JOURNAL OFFERING. ALLEGEDLY NICKNAMED "SNOOKY" AFTER A STRIPPER IN AN ATLANTA BURLESQUE HOUSE, SNOOK WAS A FOX HOUSE MAN IN THE 50'S, AND THE TOP-NOTCH LEAD SCENIC SHOP CARPENTER OUT AT CHASTAIN WHERE I MET HIM IN 1967. CHRIS MANOS' SCENE SHOP ONCE HAD TWO FULLTIME IA CARPS, AND THE CHASTAIN STAGE WAS FULLY UNION.

SNOOKY ALMOST LOST HIS LIFE WHILE STRIPPING THE HOUSE FOR THE MET IN THE EARLY 60'S. HE WAS ON THE RAIL, AND OVER-ZEALOUS CARPENTERS STRIPPED A PARAMOUNT DRAPE FROM A SYSTEM PIPE BEFORE THE COUNTERWEIGHT CARRIAGE COULD BE STRIPPED OF WEIGHT. THE BATTEN "RAN WILD," RUNNING THROUGH THE BRAKE, AND POOR SNOOK ATTEMPTED TO HOLD THE OPERATING LINE! HE WAS HAULED UP UNDER THE INDEX LIGHT BEFORE HE LET GO. HIS HANDS WERE BADLY BURNED AND FILLED WITH HEMP SPLINTERS. HE WAS A TROUPER, HOWEVER, AND WORKED THE REMAINDER OF THE RUN WITH BOTH HANDS IN BANDAGES.

TO ADD TO THE EXCITEMENT, A LARGE SHARE OF THE FIVE HUNDRED METROPOLITAN COMPANY MEMBERS DID NOT SPEAK ENGLISH. THIS PIECE (MAY, 1959, CONSTITUTION) EXPLAINS HOW BEARINGS WERE GIVEN BY CHALKING ON SUBSTAGE AND OTHER WALLS EITHER "WEST 39TH STREET" OR "WEST FORTIETH STREET," AS OPPOSED TO THE UNFATHOMABLE "STAGE LEFT" OR "RIGHT." THESE MARKINGS SURVIVED UNTIL THE 80'S WHEN SOME EINSTEIN IN FOX MANAGEMENT HAD THEM PAINTED OUT. DRAWING OF OLD MET (STREET LEVEL PLAN) FOLLOWS.

MENTION IS MADE ALSO OF THE BUZZER OR DRESSING ROOM ANNUNCIATOR SYSTEM, NOW REMOVED. BEFORE THE AGE OF DRESSING ROOM LOUDSPEAKER FEEDS, AN ELECTRICALLY OPERATED BOARD ABOVE THE STAGE MANAGERS' DESK (WHERE THE STAGE LIFT PUSHBUTTONS ARE LOCATED) SHOWED EACH DRESSING ROOM AND MANY BASEMENT ROOMS BY NUMBER OR NAME ON ELECTRO-MAGNETICALLY OPERATED "FLAGS". THE STAGE MANAGER WOULD CALL AN ACTOR TO STAGE BY DEPRESSING THE BUTTON BELOW THE FLAG, SAY, "ROOM 53" (FIFTH FLOOR). THE ACTOR WOULD CONFIRM THE BUZZ RECEIVED IN HIS ROOM BY PRESSING THE LOCAL PB, WHICH WOULD NOISELESSLY FLIP THE STAGE FLAG TO INFORM THE STAGE MANAGER THAT THE ACTOR WAS ALIVE OR SOBER OR BOTH. ALL FLAGS WOULD BE RESET BY PRESSING ANOTHER BUTTON.

YET ANOTHER PUFF PIECE, JOURNAL, MAY, 1954, GIVES MENTION TO LOCAL IA HAND JESS SHAFFER, WHOM LEE FREEMAN CLAIMS LIVED IN A CIRCUS TRAILER ON MORELAND AVENUE. SHAFFER "IS AN ELECTRICIAN," IT SAYS, "AND WORKED SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM ON A NEGRO SPIRITUAL SHOW. MONDAY, HE WAS WORKING ON THE MET."

MAY, 1958 JOURNAL PHOTO SHOWS OPERA BALLET CORPS DANCER WARMING UP ON STAGE; LEADING EDGE OF YELLOW AND RED STENCILED HOUSE TRAVELER CAN BE SEEN.


UNNAMED LOCAL AND MET HOUSE HEADS "DOING SOMETHING" IN CONSTITUTION PHOTO, MAY, 1954

FOX STAGEHANDS LOOK DIFFERENTLY TODAY, BUT ARE AMONG THE BEST IN THE COUNTRY. 2008 SHOT SHOWS "THE BEST" SEEN THROUGH STAGE LEFT LOADING DOOR, STANDING ON ALLEY ELEVATOR LIFTS, AWAITING THE NEXT TRUCK.

"STAGEHANDS DOING DOUBLE TAKE TODAY," HEADLINES THIS MAY, 1965 JOURNAL BLURB, BUT ACCORDING TO LEE FREEMAN THERE WERE THREE SHIFTS: DAY, RUNNING (OR SHOW), AND NIGHT ("BULLDOG"). A FOURTH SHIFT WORKED AT THE TRAIN SIDING. ONCE AN OPERA PLAYED, IT WAS STRUCK AND TAKEN BACK TO ITS TRAIN; THE NEXT SET WOULD COME IN TO BE SET OVERNIGHT AND DURING THE FOLLOWING DAY.

WHETHER THE MET PLAYED HERE FOUR OPERAS IN FIVE DAYS, OR, AFTER 1959, SEVEN OPERAS IN SIX DAYS, THERE WAS ALWAYS A MATINEE TO ADD TO THE SPICE. UPWARDS OF SIXTY HANDS WORKED ON THE STAGE, DEPENDING ON THE COMPLEXITY OF THE PRODUCTION, AND SOME ATTEMPTED TO WORK MUTLIPLE SHIFTS (AS DID LEE, IN ADDITION TO HIS DAY JOB) BUT IT WAS A LOSING BATTLE. WORKING WHILST ASLEEP GOES AGAINST KNOWN SAFETY GUIDELINES!

THE FOLLOWING SEVERAL ARTICLES HIGHLIGHT CLIFF CLOWER, FOX HOUSE MAN FROM DAY ONE IN 1929 AND ONE OF THOSE WHO WORKED THE MET'S VISITS SINCE 1910. HE LIVED AT 853 PONCE DE LEON PLACE AND RETIRED AT ABOUT THE AGE OF EIGHTY. HE KEPT A NOTEBOOK ON VITAL FOX STAGE STATISTICS WHICH HE KINDLY BEQUEATHED TO JOE PATTEN.

APRIL, 1950, CONSTITUTION

APRIL, 1953, JOURNAL


MAY, 1957, CONSTITUTION


DECEMBER, 1964, JOURNAL

IN CLOSING, MAY I SUBMIT THAT IF EVER THERE WAS A GOOD REASON FOR A STAGE UNION, THIS CONSTITUTUION ARTICLE OF MAY, 1960 REVEALS IT. A GEORGIA TECH LAD WAS HIRED BY THE MET TO AUGMENT THE DRESSING ROOM ANNUNCIATOR SYSTEM AS AN ANACHRONISTIC "CALL BOY."

"HE'LL BE PAID $3 OR $4 A NIGHT. 'IT DEPENDS ON HOW GOOD HE IS,'" SAYS MET ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER LEVINE.



FROM BING'S BOOK, HERE IS BING (NOT CROSBY) (RIGHT) WITH SIDEKICK FRANCIS ROBINSON EN TOUR, SITTING ON TYPICALLY UNCASTERED ROAD BOXES.