Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Ringling Theatre

Ringling Theater by William 74
Ringling Theater, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
I suppose that I should have some sort of interesting, year ending post for you, but instead I have this, a shot I took on a sunny October afternoon. First, some history.

Opened in 1915, the Al. Ringling Theatre is located in the town of Baraboo, Wisconsin. Built by Albert Ringling (of the circus family - Baraboo was the winter headquarters of the circus for many years), this fantastic house was designed by noted theater architects Rapp & Rapp. Originally a vaudeville and silent film palace, the Ringling is still operating today, as a movie house (Lincoln was opening when I shot this). The Ringling is one of the oldest continuously operating theaters in the United States.

Anyway, I'd never heard of the place till I saw it. I was grinding along the highway, returning to my Chicago area home from a brief visit to Minneapolis. I'd gotten a late start on the drive up, ending up spending much of it on the road after dark, putting paid to my plans of doing some shooting along the way. So, I made sure I had the time to make at least one stop on the return trip-and was greeted with a spectacular day. I looked at my map and decided on the town of Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Why Baraboo? I liked the name - I remember seeing a picture in a book about trains, showing the station with a big sign on the side that said "BARABOO". It stuck in my mind as one of those classic upper Midwestern names, like Sleepy Eye or Oconomowoc, and I had a good feeling that Baraboo would have a great downtown.

I wasn't disappointed - Baraboo's downtown is quite charming, and I passed a nice hour looking around at stuff on this lazy fall afternoon. But really, to find a grand old vaudeville house, complete with neon sign, right downtown? I wouldn't have thought it, but there it was.

So there you have it, a short story to round out the year.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

It's Back!

Cad by William 74
Cad, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Rumors of the old rusty Cadillac's demise were premature. It seems that the owner hooked it up to a tractor and pulled it around to the back of the barn, to facilitate the harvest season. It's now parked back out front, in almost the same spot as before.

Incidentally, it seems that in the meantime the owner has painted some greyish-blue primer onto some of the rustier spots, particularly on the hood and roof. So....is the restoration finally starting?

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Dragstrip by William 74
Dragstrip, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
I took this at Byron Dragway in northwestern Illinois, during an historic drag racing event. One of the challenges of shooting old cars is finding an appropriate backdrop - it's a bit jarring to see an vintage car parked in front of a new grocery store or something. It can be particularly hard at racetracks, which are usually full of advertising signs and modern cars.

This is as true at drag strips as it is at road courses. Particularly at the starting line, where there's usually modern safety equipment and an emergency vehicle, right where your subject's doing a smoking burnout.

Anyway, the organizers of the races I was at hit the mark with their start line truck, which was this well patinated old sixties Ford, complete with a Holman & Moody logo on the door.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Pillsbury by William 74
Pillsbury, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
The famous Pillsbury A Mill in Minneapolis. Viewed from across the famous Stone Arch Bridge.

This was the best shot I managed to get of the iconic neon sign.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lake Calhoun

Lake Calhoun by William 74
Lake Calhoun, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
The Minneapolis Skyline, seen from the shore of Lake Calhoun.

Also, if I was a decent musician, I'd record an album called "Minneapolis Skyline".

Monday, December 2, 2013


AAR by William 74
AAR, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Plymouth's Barracuda was the company's answer to Ford's wildly successful Mustang, a smallish coupe or convertible with a variety of engine and interior options to let the buyer customize their car. Pretty much any combination was available, from a basic six-pot economy model to a wild eight cylinder muscle machine.

Like the Mustang, the Barracuda spawned a number of high performance options, particularly later in it's life. One of the rarest is the AAR, a Trans-Am special devised to capitalize on the series. Developed in part by Dan Gurney's All-American Racing Team, the AAR was a fast car but the team didn't manage to win any races in it's inaugural season.

This one's a genuine ex-AAR car, run originally by Swede Savage, and still competes in historic racing today.