Wasn't it something when we still had neighborhood theaters like the Prytania? Today we have giant movie complexes with as many as 20 screens in one building. But 50 years ago -- ah, things were different then.
The Capitol Theater at 1201 N. Claiborne Ave. opened in September 1920. It cost $60,000 and seated 1,600. But since we were still watching silent movies, the new theater also featured a $4,800 organ. The grand opening, with its packed house, made the paper.
The closing also made the paper. In May 1937, the Capitol Theater burned down in a fire that lasted three hours. So, you see, you'd have to be at least 70 if you remember this particular neighborhood theater.
Now, the Bijou, also know as the New Bijou, and the Roxy were built around the same time -- 1929 and 1930. The Bijou closed its doors in 1950, and the Roxy followed close behind, showing its last movie in 1951.
These and the many other neighborhood theaters were very popular in New Orleans and cheap, too. In the 1930s, admission was only 10 cents for children and 15 cents for adults. There are more than two dozen theaters remaining just in New Orleans proper that were built between 1904 and 1952 that are being used for everything from churches to reception halls to medical clinics to funeral homes. And the Prytania, built in the early 1900s, is the last remaining single-screen suburban theater in the city, maybe even the state.
Is Bob Roesler still working for the National Football League? Does he still reside in New Orleans?
You must mean the famous Bob Roesler, the fine gentleman and respected sports writer who retired from the sports department of The Times-Picayune after a remarkable career that lasted 45 years.
Bob tells me that he was born in Hammond, but has lived in New Orleans since he was a little lad. While he has never been employed by the National Football League (NFL), he has been very closely associated with the organization for many years.
Bob came to The Times-Picayune in 1949, and in 1964 became sports editor and lead columnist. From 1980 until he retired in 1994, he was the executive sports editor.
He began writing about pro football in 1966. You remember. That was the year that New Orleans was granted an expansion franchise, and the Saints were born. Bob was also president of the Professional Football Writers Association, and over the years he attended and reported on at least 28 Super Bowls.
Bob has said that one of the most important events in his career was Super Bowl IV. He was instrumental in bringing this event to our city, a game that took place in 1970 at the old Tulane Stadium in pre-Dome days. This led to a friendship with the former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and a place on the mayor's Super Bowl task force that got eight more Super Bowls for us.
Bob's career, however, was not limited to writing about football. As an accomplished sports journalist, he covered almost every aspect of sports including boxing, baseball, basketball and horse racing. He was in Zaire in October 1974 when Muhammad Ali stopped George Foreman in eight rounds. He was also in New York at the Belmont Stakes in 1973 when Secretariat won the mile-and-a-half race by an astounding 23 lengths.
Although Bob has officially retired, he is still serving as a volunteer sports coordinator for the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau and as its liaison with the NFL. And he has also written a fascinating story of our famous race track titled The Fair Grounds: Big Shots and Long Shots.
Bob has been recognized by just about every sports hall of fame there is, including, as you would imagine, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.