‘From Here to Eternity’
Old Movie Projectors Find New Home in Florida
During recent demolition of the E-wing of Bldg. 10, workers came across two old movie projectors on the mezzanine level of the old 14th-floor auditorium. Recognizing that NIH might have objects of value, the Office of Research Facilities prevented the projectors from ending up in a dumpster and have located a home for them.
You might say they are going From Here to Eternity (which won best picture in 1953, the year the Clinical Center opened).
“The movie projectors were used in the large auditorium for movie nights on the big screen,” said Holly Parker, a recreation therapist at the Clinical Center. “Arnold Sperling was the founder of the recreation therapy program at the Clinical Center and started the movie nights for patients. We used to get the movie reels delivered by mail. We also had a popcorn machine that was a favorite for patients.”
Parker’s colleague Debbie Marcus, who has been a recreation therapist at the CC for 40 years, adds, “The movies were ordered from a company called Swank Motion Pictures. Our movie nights were scheduled once a month.”
Marcus said that on the 14th floor, movies were run by a department that was a predecessor to the hospital’s IT department.
“After the evening of the movies on the big screen in the 14th floor auditorium, the films were brought down to the patient units and shown in solariums and day rooms using a mobile projector to those patients who were unable to attend the general showing.
“The popcorn machine was one of those large industrial ones like you would find at a fair,” she continued, “and we made it fresh throughout the movie so patients also enjoyed the aroma of a movie theater as well.”
Back in those days, recreation therapy was part of the Patient Activities Department, under Sperling’s direction. Today it is part of the department of rehabilitation medicine.
Brad Moss, ORF communication director, searched for takers for the old RCA projectors and found a nonprofit called Coral Gables Art Cinema in Coral Gables, Fla., which collects antique film equipment. The transfer of the machines is due to take place soon.—Rich McManus