Howard Rieder provided a collection of memories about Signal Corps Photographic Center, and some stories about what happened after the service:
I was stationed at SCPC from May 1952 to September 1954. I ended up as a Cpl. attached to the Sound Branch. I have many memories of good times with a great gang of people; sadly a number of them have passed away all too soon: Walter Pfister, Grant Tyler, Dick Mansfield, that I know about.
There were a lot of fun things that happened during that time; Joe Flaherty, Jr. was there amongst us and I was pleased to see his bio and really was aware of many of the things he had accomplished in his life. Joe was brilliant and feisty in getting what he needed for the TV studio, like telling Sgt, Callichio that his entire staff was going to work in the TV studio and they would have none of that army stuff that day. The sergeant was speechless, but bought it.
I went on to journalism, producing a variety of film and recording projects, and was Director of Advertising, Public Relations, and Sales Promotion for Thomas Organ Co. and Revell, Inc. I retired after 15 and 1/2 years from Nissan Motor Corp. as one of its advertising managers. I have a B.A. and an M.A. in Televison-Cinema from U.S.C. and have taught Cinema production in several schools.
Interestingly, I have a file of the SCPC (and it was called Signal Corps Pictorial Center during my tenure) Post Newspapers, Many of the people there at that time are mentioned and shown, both civilian and military. But that doesn't tell all the stories of some of our crazy adventures. If there is interest I can retell them.
While at Nissan on a NYC trip, a friend arranged for me to tour the old studio. It was amazing to see the changes and the similarities, but the most interesting was the boarded up barracks across the street from the studio building.
I now live in Prescott, AZ, where I volunteer in producing video productions for the City of Prescott.
FYI, amongst the gang at that time were Wally Pfister (our PIO) who went on to CBS News and ABC as V.P. of Special Events and whose son is a cinematographer and was just nominated for an Academy Award. Dick Mansfield went on to be a producer at Chicago Public TV, Ira Levin was at that time a produced playright and went on to write more plays and novels, Dick DeRoy (our company clerk) wrote for Studio One and other shows during his time at SCPC and was a prominent writer-producer of TV (Remington Steel), Don Peterman who did the cinematography for Splash, Men in Black and other films and who, based on the credits of some films has a son following in his footsteps. Grant Tyler was a clerk in the main office of the studio, having come from Ted Bates Advertising. Grant's aunt was (Dame) Bea Lillie, a very famous stage star. She had an apartment on East End Drive and when not there we could use it for parties. There were others, but my memory is blurring.
There was the day when we handcuffed (borrowed from the prop department) Grant to the stairway banister after morning role call because he had long legs, could run very fast and beat everyone to the wash basins every day. It was all in fun. Grant took it well and was just late in shaving and showering that day.
And there was the time when a new lieutenant was in charge of the morning roll call and curtly ordered Sgt. Baylor (he with a very wicked sense of humor) to drill the men at 6:15 in the morning. You might recall the blacktop behind the barracks faced a six story walkup just over the chain link fence. In 30 seconds, every window had a sleepy head looking out wondering if war had been declared. We paraded and upon orders from the good sergeant counted cadence very loudly. We performed that morning for an audience, something our little rag tag group of NYC soldiers did very very seldom. At 8:30 when the studio office came alive, every line on the switchboard was blinking red, and the lieutenant who ordered the morning drill was never seen again. We were late for shaving, showering, dressing, and breakfast that morning.
That's all I have for right now that I can remember, except a couple of hangovers sitting in the re-recording theater.
It has been a lot of fun remembering ...and things I had long since forgotten have been brought to mind. Maybe Joe Flaherty can come up with more from our era.
When I toured the studio during the late 80's I remember the G.M. who took us around talking about the Officer's Club as he showed it to us and remarking how they had removed the false walls and got back to the (I think) tile and art deco decorations. Anyway, it was neat. It was apparently the only facility in which to eat then. The cafeteria we ate at in the very back of the studio was long since gone. If you contact the studio, they might be able to send you some pictures and a facility brochure.
I'll send the newspapers which Wally Pfister edited along as soon as I reread them. I'm going to send the originals as I know you'll appreciate them. They will have lots of names of the people who were there then.
By the way, I really like delving into the history of things. I grew up in radio in L.A. and recalled a lot of that for someone there who was interested. For awhile, my long term memory is not too bad; short term is lousy.
The post newspaper may help to identify people there at that time. Most of us, by the way, in the place, other than the cooks and motor pool were older, that is, we were drafted generally after college and chose the two year term. Some of the officers in Second Signal (which lived on the third floor of the barracks) were ROTC and were in for longer. 2nd Signal went on the TDY's to other stations. One of the guys there, a Lieutenant, was Jay Sandrich who became well known as an Emmy Award winning TV director, for Mary Tyler Moore's show amongst others.
A couple of the guys in our unit (camermen) also went on TDY's: Lester Marks and Boots Barnes. Both had served in Korea and I think, WWII and if you opened their footlockers, there were medals a plenty. Both were exceedingly modest about their exploits.
This does give me an opportunity to remember some happy times....and some not so happy times --- As a Californian I had never seen snow, but the day of the first snow when I arrived back at the barracks, I was handed a shovel and told to clear the sidewalk...and you remember how long and wide that was, I'm sure.
One other bit of information: we were in two barracks: 2nd signal in one and us in the other. The two barracks were located in the back of the studio and were abandoned by us in 1953 or early 1954 (I'm not sure which) when the new facility was built across the street from the front of the studio. That space was used to build two new sound stages for Kaufman Astoria Studios, one of them housing the Bill Cosby Show.
One sad note, on a trip to NYC before the studio was acquired and after it had closed, I asked the obliging cab driver to take my by to facility, It was a poignant moment to look at the buidling with windows smashed and at the lab building across the street in mighty disrepair, glass block broken in pieces and graffiti on the walls.
I noticed the name of Herman Korman on one of the entries, and I remember him well; he was head of the projection section, and a very nice and helpful person to me.
Hope the above is of interest to the "survivors."
Howard Rieder, P.O. Box 10845, Prescott, AZ. 86304, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Posted March 16, 2006)