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D12 Akron Beacon Journal   Tuesday, May 3, 1977

Party saluting Al's 90 years like script out of Hollywood

GOOD SHOW: It was to be expected; the Ploeneses grew up in show biz.  

Their father, Albert "Al" Ploenes, managed the Orpheum Theater at Main and Market from 1915, when the original was opened, until 1951, when the last version closed its doors.

But his was a career unusual for more than length.

Not long after he came here in 1908, Al's parents moved to Los Angeles.  He followed but remained less than a year.  The place wasn't growing, not even an out-in-the-country section called Hollywood where "movies" were made.

But after returning to booming Akron, he found himself tied to the place he'd just left - Hollywood.  Ploenes managed the Grotto movie house, then the Alhambra before going to the Botzom brothers' Orpheum.

At the Orpheum the first sound movies were shown - Vitaphone - shorts - and the first feature-length film with sound, Al Jolson's "The Jazz Singer."

So Al was a part of Los Angeles' growth, anyway.

He and his wife, Myra (they live at 150 Idlewild) have two sons and a daughter.  Albert L. is director of pupil data for the Akron Public Schools and William D. is with Roadway Express.  Mrs. Elizabeth Dougherty lives at 143 Idlewild, across the street from her parents.

The offspring decided to give Dad a party at the Diamond Grille on his 90th birthday.  They invited friends.

Ken Nichols [[image]]

Al extinguished the candles with one puff.

So son William got up in the crowded room and, with the assurance of actors seen on the Orpheum screen, he asked "everyone" to join in a toast.

"We are here," he announced, "to celebrate our father's 90th birthday.  We ask for your best wishes on this memorable occasion and we ask for your prayers as he enters the hospital tomorrow - for a vasectomy!"

Al pretended to shake his cane threateningly at William but had to turn and wave it instead at the applauding and cheering diners.  

"Could Hollywood" asks Mrs. Daugherty, "do any better?"

THEY WILL meet again, the Kenmore High class of '57 at Bill Lezos' Restaurant on Saturday, June 11. Members can get a good seat by calling Mrs. Richard (Shirley) Lang at 720 Ina Ave. . . . some classes are waiting for warmer weather. Central High's class of '57 (20 must be a magic number) will reunite Aug. 13. And Janet King at 1541 Druid Dr. in Copley is searching for lostees . . . the Tallmadge High class of '67 
(everyone doesn't wait 20 years) is planning an August reunion, too. Mrs. Phillip F. Souers (Rita Rotondo) at 108 Hanna Dr. is in charge of the roundup.

. . . Back to 20 years: The January and June grads of '57 at Cuyahoga Falls High will test their memory for faces and names on June 25 at Akron City Club.  Remember Bruce Redmon (3633 Darrow Rd.) and John R. Curtis (449 Wyoga Lake Blvd.)?  They have tickets.

THERE were so many of them and they were so enthusiastic and so good.  

They were called "aviatrices" then, a name that simply meant women airplane pilots.

Probably a lot of influences blended to put women in the forefront of aviation here when, in many places, they were not yet driving cars.

But an institution that will honor all the women who pioneered their place in the sky is being put together not here but in Dayton.  It's called the Women's Aviation and Aerospace Museum.

Working to that end is the All-Ohio Chapter of the 99s, whose members are licensed women pilots.

Virginia M. Thomas, the historian of the chapter, sent us a 1931 photo of "The Squadron of Death," an all-woman group of student fliers based at Akron Airport.  These were melodramatic days.

Eventually the squadron had 13 members and they met on the second Friday of each month and always on a Friday, the 13th.

Ms. Thomas asked what became of the 13.

They were, in 1931, Julia Ann Feiling, Lydia Griggs, Jessie Budrick, Isabelle Chappel, Mrs. Henrietta Fox, Frankie Renner, Mary Coddington, Mrs. Rubye Berau, Mrs. Hazel Schippel and (not in the picture) Mary Winstanley, Mrs. Corrine Armstrong, Mrs. Glenn (Lorena) Clark and Helen Noaland.

Frankie Renner, about whom we wrote recently, is living in North Canton.  We located Mrs. Henry F. (Hazel) Schippel at 877 Hereford Dr.  And her daughter, Marge Forest, a jewel, telephoned to Florida and found Mrs. Beran (77 in June) living at 4807 Sea Island Ave., Tri-Par Estates, Sarasota.  

The museum would like to know the whereabouts of other members.

Despite the name of the squadron, the skull-and-crossbones insignia, helmet and goggles and white jump suits, the fliers retained their femininity.  They always wore high heels in the air.

[[image]] "Squadron of Death" Aviatrices in 1931 photo
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