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Working at the Modjeska

Category : History , Uncategorized

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Jerry Konz now lives in Sheboygan, but he reminisces fondly on his time working at the Modjeska Theater in Milwaukee.

“Sometimes, certain dates stick in your mind,” says Konz. “On Oct. 12, 1963, I went downtown to get a work permit and was hired on the spot.”

Jerry worked at the Modjeska from October, 1963 until February, 1965.

Before shift, theater staff members would exit stage left to dress in the basement-floor dressing rooms, frequently used in bygone Vaudeville days. They returned ready for their shift, adorned in uniforms of black pants, white dress shirts, and double-breasted suit coats – complete with a tie.

Adult admission was 95 cents. During that time, new movie showings started on Thursday, and every night the movie screen would light up the theater, smell of popcorn wafting. Jerry was an usher, and normal duties included cleaning the movie house and prepping film.

“On Wednesdays, we would do the marquee,” says Konz. “They would send me up on this big 10 ft. ladder to take down the old, put up the new.”

Jerry enjoyed working at the Modjeska, and he credits the people he worked alongside.

“One of the reasons I enjoyed it so much were the people I worked with,” he says. “There were good folks there, many were people I went to school with.”

Jerry went to South Division High and graduated in 1965. He grew up on the corner of 15th and National Avenue.

Jerry laughed as he shared a favorite memory while on the clock.

“One of the wildest ones, we were running a Beatles film, and my job was to keep the noise down. The girls would scream every time they came on the screen,” says Konz. “A couple of our employees were among the worst! We eventually gave up. They would just pause, look at you and continue screaming.”

Like so many, Jerry looks forward to the Modjeska doors reopening to the public.

“I would love to see it once it’s open again. I really loved working there.”