“Pier 4” at The Admiral was almost full by showtime.
(Videos courtesy Southwest Seattle Historical Society. Above, pre-film introductions)
In pre-film remarks, executive director Clay Eals of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society – which is leading the restoration effort – observed that the crowd included former mayor Greg Nickels in a Kansas City Monarchs hat. (The Monarchs were the team honored by the high-school baseball players featured in the movie as they “barnstormed” on a 5,100-mile baseball trip in 2000, organized by students from Chief Sealth HS to pay tribute to the Negro Leagues players’ legendary travels.)
Also at the screening – Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick, who’s part of the film, and “Legends of the Road” producer/director Gary Thomsen, the former Chief Sealth teacher whose students carried out the ambitious-to-say-the-least project. They answered questions after the screening, joined by one of the former Sealth students who produced the barnstorming trip (with all the filming done by students too). Before the screening, Kendrick had a story about Seattle barnstorming history, with the Monarchs playing games here against a team called the House of David, which he described as “an all-white religious sect based out of Michigan. … Seattle has long been an important part of this story.”
Every cent raised Tuesday night goes to restoration of the 75-year-old murals, which, as Eals noted (you can see part of one in the video), were hidden under curtains when the theater was twinned in 1973, and uncovered during last year’s renovation work that turned The Admiral into an all-first-run fourplex. With paid admission approaching 200, and a post-film auction of two donated 1942 Monarchs replica jerseys for $600 each, that totals at least $5,000.
Another fundraising effort is in the works, Eals tells us. The formal announcement is expected within a week or so, but you can save the date – July 25th – for a full evening “consisting of an in-person presentation by the world-renowned, France-based ‘silent film guru’ Tim Brock, who scores films for the Chaplin Foundation and countless other films, and who grew up in West Seattle and got the inspiration for his film-scoring career when, as a 10-year-old in the early 1970s, he watched organ-accompanied silents at West Seattle’s Granada Theater, which was razed in 1977. Tim will be interviewed on stage by his childhood friend, West Seattle’s Dave Beck (current KING-FM host and longtime former KUOW-FM host), show stills and clips from films he has scored and, after an intermission, introduce the full-length ‘Modern Times’ by Chaplin.”
As for what’s next for “Legends of the Road,” it’s on the film-festival circuit, having premiered in Kansas City, and heading to Minneapolis. That was part of Tuesday night’s post-film Q&A:
Thomsen hopes to screen it eventually in the cities that were part of the barnstorming-tribute tour. As for here at home, he says its next local screening isn’t scheduled yet but he’s working on another event that might include it. Whenever it happens, you’ll want to take anybody who needs a little inspiration … as Paul, one of the former students, told the audience last night, the project gave him a lot of confidence. Bob Kendrick declared that “every educator should see this film,” to get a view into an “amazing experiential learning project.”