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My dad died at 28 from complications from diabetes. He lived a very full life in a short time. This from an article published in the Eau Claire, Wisconsin Leader on October 15, 1962 shortly before I was born. My sister, who is our family genealogist, recently found it and shared it and I'm glad she did. This is an inspiring story, even if you don't know the characters:
Screen Lives Again in Augusta Theater
October 10, 1962 - AUGUSTA (Special) - While movie heroes dance their shadowy ritual across the movies screen here a true life drama is being enacted at the box office.
A month ago Richard L. (Chips) Flodin, 22 , of 1611 Western Avenue, Eau Claire, and his wife, re-opened the August theater which had been silent and dark for two years.
Many folks know Flodin as an Eau Claire radio personality, who conducted a late-evening record show, worked at the television studio as a film director and moved to Marshfield as a radio announcer after marrying Maxine Knowlton in September, 1961.
Some folks know that Flodin, who has a lifelong interest in the entertainment world in general and the movie world in particular, launched his business here a month ago on a shoestring after being out of work for months.
Few know he had to leave his radio announcing post, when failing eyesight canceled out his ability to read news stories or other announcements. He has been in hospitals twice since then in efforts. so far futile, to push back the curtain of darkness that is gradually closing in.
At best Flodin can make out the shape and form of large objects. At worst he can just distinguish between light and darkness.
"It seems like there is always a way, if you can just find it.", he says. He doesn't like to talk about his problems.
He would rather talk about his Eau Claire friends who tipped him off to the possibility of reopening the theater here: who helped himself and his wife clean up, paint and partially remodel the main street building for the event; and the Augusta businessmen who have supported his effort. He sells them some advertising on the screen and reports that business support has represented the difference between success and failure during the first weeks.
He has found that although business is good "many people have gotten out of the movie habit." He hopes that by presenting the best pictures his budget will allow he can recapture some interest.
He also praised the August young people, Jerry Setzer, Julie Neldon and Jim Steadman, who work at the theater for showings: one on Thursday, two on Friday and Saturday nights, matinees on Saturday and Sunday, and the Sunday night performance.
So far his wife, who is 19, has been his principle helper, caring for books, driving his car and using her eyes for him. She will have added duties soon when their first child is born. Flodin is hoping to find a place here where he can reasonably park their trailer close to the theater so he can walk back and forth alone.
"I was pretty busted up," he says, recalling the time when he first learned his eye ailment is serious and could be permanent. But his face lights up as he describes how he is trying to improve the theater sound system and the bright plans he has for the future if his venture here succeeds. He will know better when the next two months of his three-month trial period are complete.
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