Alumni News

U.S. Army Pictorial Center
Number Fifty – October 1997

#50 October 1997 - #51 February 1998

Contributors to Alumni News

Eric Arthur

Frank and Genevieve Napoleon

Frank Little

David A. Englander

George Dibbs

Orton Hicks

Michael Montelione

Joe Scrabonia

Michael Damiano

See list of all names mentioned on this page.


Army Pictorial Center was such an unusual place with such a distinctive aggregation of personnel that it generated a remarkable loyalty among those formerly assigned there.  These alumni worked to maintain their connection to the many others who shared their experiences.  Following closure of APC, they continued their association through a monthly newsletter, the Alumni News, and annual reunions at the studio.

 Don Fednyak supplied copies of the Alumni News from which this material is excepted.

 The October 1997 Alumni News included these posts:

Eric Arthur

 Eric Arthur wrote, “as one of Col. Parker’s free-lance contract writers I often felt like an outsider-insider at the Pic Center. I didn’t know most of you who worked in the other departments. I am sure I was more than a little responsible for my limited acquaintance at the Center. I am not notoriously a social creature. Since my grammar school days, the usual comment from my peers was, ‘Why do you look so glum?’ Well some of us are perennial optimists. I happen to be a perennial glum. Having said all this, I do recall some most pleasant associations at APC.

 “Among the Project Officers I worked with were Frank Payne, Mort Lewis, Dick Allen, and Ben Stelson. I did many scripts for Captain, later Colonel, Carl Flint. Carl and I became good friends and over the years have kept up a warm and welcome correspondence.  Dave Englander and I hardly knew each other while we were at APC, but we have since remedied that and have become avid pen pals.

 “I remember writers Verle Johnson, Dan Klugherz, Dixon Kramer, Al Yudkof, Sid Stiber, Sam Robbins, Paul Mayer. I enjoyed timing narrations in the cutting room almost as much as writing the scripts.  I worked with film editors Joe Sorbera, Mike Damiano, Ralph DiMatto, Phil Weinstein, and Milton Lustig. Other good folk I remember are Max Kosarin, Ken Elk, Lou Napoleon, Harry Cunningham, Irv Fischman. (Who could forget IRV!) I am sure I left out a lot of names, but an eighty-year-old memory leaves a lot to be desired.

 “When I left APC (was it l970?) I continued on as a contract writer for the new civilian agency, General Electric. Somehow it wasn't the same. GE and I had nothing in common. I barely know how to change a light bulb. So-- with the Pic Center closed, the corporate contracts getting fewer and fewer and farther between, and with a lovely wife and two lovely daughters to provide for, I had to look around in a hurry for some greener fields. I found one at the Army Transportation Center at Port Eustis, Virginia, where I had done some films for one George Ames, who had also become a good friend (since deceased). (For an anti-social character, I seem to have had more good friends than I thought). At Fort Eustis I became Film Liaison Officer and later, Audio Visual Director.

 “On my retirement in l985 I took a position as Public Affairs Officer for the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg. (On the side, I continued a long free-lance career writing stories and articles for national and regional magazines. Previous to my APC work, I had written radio scripts for ‘The Shadow’, ‘Gangbusters’, ‘Mr. Keene, Tracer of Lost Persons’, and other network shows.) Also taught evening classes in creative writing at the College of William and Mary. In my ‘spare time’ I directed and acted in community theatre.

 “Life, on the whole, is good-news-bad-news. Good news doesn't make the news. All of you my age know all about the bad news, health problems. Mine is eyes. The corneal transplant didn't come out so good. However, I can still see well enough to hit the wrong keys on the typewriter. Col. Parker once wrote the following inscription for me in his book, ‘Table in The Wilderness’, ‘To a fellow writer who knows what it is to toil in literary vineyards.’ Well, glum or no glum, I still like to read about all you former APC toilers, in and out of your own particular vineyards. Stay well, all of you.”

 Editor Sam Polidoro added, “Sure wish there were more glum Alumni who would recall people and events before and after 30 June 1970. Yup!!”

Frank and Genevieve (Dorio) Napoleon

 Frank Napoleon wrote, “On June 8th, (1997), my wife and I, and our family and friends, celebrated our 45th Anniversary at APC in the Commissary.  Our children, James and Grace, arranged an Anniversary party there.  They said, "This is where it all began!!" I met my wife, Genevieve Dorio, at APC in the Animation Department. We were married on June 20th, 1952, and the rest is History. The staff at APC (Kaufman) treated us wonderfully and made us feel very special. And, of course, the food was great as we all know. 'Bob' took care of all the details. Our guests even got a tour of some of the stages.  It was a great surprise!

 “For those people who were in the Animation Department, I'm sorry to report that Frankie Little died April 15, 1997. I read about it in my Union (Local 600) Bulletin. He was a very sweet man and well-liked by everyone.” [FRANK enclosed a copy of the notice].

Frank Little

 Herman ‘Rich’ Richards wrote, “I had a call from Mary Gonell, daughter of Frank Little, informing that he passed away on April 16, '97. The cause: Cardiac arrest brought about by ailments associated with the ageing process. He died just one week short of his 90th birthday. An outstanding artist in the field of animated cartoons, he was highly regarded by many of his colleagues in this field. Among his early works was his work with Fleischer on many of the old 'Popeye' cartoons back in the 20s and 30s. His familiar credit, 'F. Little', appeared quite often on a good deal of these old cartoons.”

David A. Englander

 David A. Englander wrote, “I have heard from Arthur Montgomery, who was a combat photographer with the 3264th Sig Photo Bn. in the RTO during WWII. He is writing a history of combat photographers and would like to hear from any still around.

 “I told him I would ask you to put a note about his request in the next issue of the Alumni Bulletin, whenever that is. I am sending him the address of Buddy Lovette who may be able to help him with regard to members of the 165th Sig Photo Co. There was an officer, a major, who worked at APC in the late '60s before it closed. I had met him in France in 1944 but I cannot remember his name.

Any guesses?”

George Dibbs

 George Dibbs wrote, “Les asked me to run some films at the Reunion so I said O.K. if I could run my short General MacArthur home movie–running time 4 min. You know I made five first wave landings, in the SW Pacific under one of the most outstanding Military Geniuses of all times.

 “Enclosed is the obit of Col. Ort Hicks who headed up the Army's WWII Training and Entertainment Film Distribution and Field Exhibition program, later taken over after the war by Les Binger and me as well as Phil Johnson and many others.

Orton Hicks Obituary

Michael Montelione

 Michael Montelione wrote, “Aloha Sam & Les, received the last newsletter and was sorry to hear that Harry Cunningham passed away. We had been on many of the projects and had some joyous times. One case in point was when we went to Ida Casons Callaway Gardens in Georgia. Harry had his family with him and I had a bad sunburn.”

Joe Scrabonia

 Joe Scrabonia wrote, “I’m writing to notify of a FADEOUT. Building #1 had its heroes and fine people mentioned in the Alumni News through the years.  There was such a person at in Building #13.  His name was Joe Lawrow, of Technical Maintenance Branch. He started at APC in 1942 and left in 1970. 

 He was a creator, fabricator, designer, solver of problems, an answer man, and a human encyclopedia, etc.  He had touched every Division, every Branch, and every Person who needed assistance and know-how.  I am proud to have known him.  He passed away on January 3, 1997.”

Michael Damiano

Michael Damiano wrote that the cable channel AMC “presented a documentary and U.S. Army Air Force training film – called ‘Hollywood Commandos’– produced by Gen. 'Hap' Arnold, with Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Ronald Reagan, William Holden, at Jack Warner's Studios; then to Hal Roach Studio with John Ford, John Huston, Frank Capra. At closing of film presentation, U.S. Army Signal Corps was mentioned to continue to produce training and info films, to be called Signal Corps Photographic Center, SCPC then, now known as APC.”

(There are online references to this documentary on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) at and in a review in the Chicago Tribute at

(Mike Damiano also contributed to the February 1998 Alumni News.)

Reunion 1997

 Sam Polidoro and Les Binger summarized some of the experiences at the September 20, 1997 APC Reunion:

 “All who attended enjoyed a very good time, as they met with their friends and former co-workers. It seemed to us, from their arriving words, that they had determined this was to be an enjoyable day. 

 But, less than ten days before THE day, Sam made a routine call to the Commissary to insure that everything was all set and was very surprised to discover that the Commissary Management had changed hands, and that the new man did not know anything about the Reunion!  Sam, obviously, took this in stride and explained what was expected.  In a matter of hours, it was straightened out as the ‘new’ found that the ‘old’ had indeed left instructions, with obviously fine end results.

 “We also praise Elaine Ferranti, Kaufman-Astoria Studios, for her continuous assistance in arranging the tours, and making the parking facilities available to the Alumni.

“So, anyone attending will, I believe, attest to the fact that all were in the mood to enjoy not only the camaraderie and recollections, but also the meal. We had intended short films.

 “I had several prints (all at least 50 years old) which were screened at a library.  There was no intention of showing bang-bang stuff, and the total time was not to exceed one hour.  Had thought that a few minutes from the beginning of an old favorite (mine), ‘Railroaders Always,’ might be a little fun.  Alas!  Discovered that the few minutes had an animation sequence showing RR know-how aid to a country this is still ‘persona-non-grata’. (Not Russian).

 Might add that I thought the curtains near the ceiling could be closed – not so! So, we ran George Dibbs’ footage from the SW Pacific, and a ‘gag’ reel circa 1948.  Another print from the Army-Navy Screen Magazine portion, ‘Sing With the Stars,’ was not used because the three young women simply did not resemble any actresses we had ever seen.

 “Still have a print of ‘Misc 20-20’ made to look like a training film.  Has some good shots of SCPCers and APCers, but much, much has to be cut.  Any Alumnus who wants to try has only to communicate, and we’ll get the print to that Alumnus. 

 “If we ever try this again, we’ll arrange a screening at the Museum of the Moving Image.  The museum is close by, in our former Bldg. 13.  You’d never recognize it! 

 Listening to the Alumni get up and talk is enjoyable.  So much so, that while I was trying to help George in setting up the show, it simply took me back, 'way back, and reminded me of much of my love for moving pictures.  I loved every single iota of it, so much so, that my notetaking was neglected.  Sorry, and 1,000 pardons.  (Might add, 80-year-olds shouldn’t life projectors.  Hell no.)

 “Sam and Les received separate but identical notes, ‘thank you for a great reunion! Your continuing efforts are much appreciated by the ‘LAST BRIGADE at APC.’  Liked that ‘Brigade’ so much that it was almost used in the heading of this News.

 “Rambling: When we thought about retirement and the 'golden years’, it was days filled with time to travel or just stay home.  We were the same people grey hair, or no hair- a few more pounds and some wrinkles. We would be able to do everything we always did: drive, walk, golf, play tennis, and other things too private to write about. Along came the birthdays – sixty, seventy, seventy- five, maybe eighty. We were totally unprepared. I hope our children address this natural happening more intelligently. It's wonderful to be alive, it just takes courage and a sense of humor.  But it’s good sense to be aware of what your needs may be and try to make arrangements for some compromises.  Let us know what your thoughts are about this stage of ourselves."



Names mentioned on this page:


Don Fednyak
Eric Arthur
Col. Norton Parker
Frank Payne
Mort Lewis
Dick Allen
Ben Stelson
Carl Flint
Dave Englander

Verle Johnson
Dan Klugherz
Dixon Kramer
Al Yudkof
Sid Stiber
Sam Robbins
Paul Mayer
Joe Sorbera
Mike Damiano
Ralph DiMatto
Phil Weinstein
Milton Lustig
Max Kosarin
Ken Elk
Lou Napoleon
Harry Cunningham
Irv Fischman
Sam Polidoro

Frank and Genevieve (Dorio) Napoleon
Frankie Little
Herman ‘Rich’ Richards
George Dibbs
General MacArthur
Col. Ort Hicks
Les Binger
Phil Johnson
Michael Montelione
Harry Cunningham
Joe Scrabonia
Joe Lawrow
Michael Damiano
Gen. 'Hap' Arnold
Clark Gable
Jimmy Stewart
Ronald Reagan
William Holden
John Ford
John Huston
Frank Capra
Elaine Ferranti

(Posted August 3, 2020.)


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