Palace Brought a Bit of Glitz Downtown

Democrat and Chronicle

Rochester, NY


BOB MARCOTTE Edward Ferland, a former broadcaster and stockbroker, vividly remembers one of his very first jobs. For two and a half years he would head downtown after his high school classes, go to his workplace locker and put on a dark blue double-breasted jacket, white celluloid collar, and light blue pants with stripes down the side. He would quickly check to be sure he was all "spit and polish." And then he was ready: Chief of services at the RKO Palace Theater, overseeing 56 ushers--count 'em, fifty-six-- who were on the staff to take peoples' tickets and show them which of the 3,200 seats were theirs. Ferland was paid the princely sum of 57 cents an hour. And among other perks, he got to meet some of the top entertainers in person.

Fateful Meetings

One of his favorites was Vaughn Monroe, who appeared with his band at the RKO just after hitting the top of the charts with "Dance, Ballerina, Dance." The RKO was sold out, and had to add two extra shows, Ferland recalls. "I had a problem with the staff," he added. "Everyone tried to get backstage to get Monroe's autograph. He called me to his room and asked that the staff be kept away from backstage." It was simply too crowded. "He was very appreciative of the staff and promised a personally autographed photo for each if they could just wait till after the last show on closing night." Sure enough, Monroe signed notes of thanks to 97 staffers in all. "My impression of him as a true gentleman and one of the nicest personalities I ever met continues through today," Ferland added.

Submitted by: Tim Ellingham