"Togetherness" Features Life of Ralph Boices

Keep Young at Heart on Tennis Courts

By Emmaline Boyd, Times-Union Staff Writer

It only takes an afternoon's visit with Gladys and Ralph Boice at 710 North Lake St. to discover their perennially young quality as they approach their golden wedding anniversary next year.

Their home film library contains an invaluable contribution to Warsaw's and Kosciusko County's history extending over the past 30 years. Their anticipation of worthwhile and interesting future projects, their continued participation in what they term a life-time sport-tennis-their constant contact with youth in promoting sports, are a few of the contributing factors to their still youthful, eager anticipation of many more happy, productive years as they fact the 50th year of marriage. Theirs is a story of "togetherness," in all of their life's work, and their leisure hours.

To many, the Boices are known mainly for their theater management here since 1931, first at the old Strand Theater on North Buffalo St. and then the Boice Theater since 1955. Boice has been in the movie business most of his life. His father, who opened the first theater in Elkhart in 1906, began teaching Ralph to be a movie projectionist at the age of nine. He continued at this theater until 1918, when he joined the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army. As soon as the Army discovered he was a projectionist, Boice was put to work projecting films at Army camps. His orders for overseas duty came just as the war came to an end. Then back to movie theater work again at Elkhart.

Tennis Champ
Ralph began playing tennis while quite young and by the time he was in his late teens he was of champion quality.

In Elkhart in 1919 was an attractive young lady who was a tennis expert and also was in theater work, as a pianist during intermission and vaudeville performances. This was Gladys Hough, who accepted a Sunday morning tennis match with Ralph after meeting him on a Friday evening. The following Sunday they played tennis all afternoon. The third Sunday he succeeded in having an evening date. They spent several weeks absorbed in playing tennis. Within a short period of time they were married.

This began their long life in movie theater work, making their own movies and processing them in their home, continuing their active sport of playing and coaching tennis and encouraging promising young tennis players. Boice himself, played competitive tennis until he was 55 years old. He calls the game a "life-time" sport says one has to be alert at all times and keep "your eye on the ball."

The Boices were impressed in 1933 by the expert technique of a Plymouth High School young man, now managing editor of The Times-Union and assistant coach of Grace College's tennis team, Don Cramer. They met Cramer at an inter-city match between Warsaw and Plymouth and since that time, through the years have remained close friends.

Local Tennis Club
In the early 30's Boice, with a group of other outstanding tennis players in Warsaw, obtained permission fro the city of Warsaw to build a private tennis court where the city courts now stand, on North Detroit Street, at Center Lake Park. Among other players participating in the sport at the private tennis club were Reub Williams, James Hartle, George Bowser, Robert P. Gast, Kenneth Boice, Earl Fausnaught, and John (Red) Morse. World War II interfered with the club. In 1945 the courts were turned back to the city.

In 1948, Ralph coached a high school tennis team in Warsaw which won 14 straight matches. All five of the team members later made their respective college tennis teams. They included Joe Beeson, former Warsaw High School tennis team; George Rosselot, of Indiana Central College; Frank Luecke, University of Missouri; Don Lora, Wheaton College, and Ron Jacobs, who later was a tennis team member at the Tulsa (Okla.) School of Mining Engineering.

One day several years ago Mrs. Boice returned from the courts and excitedly told her husband that she had just "discovered" another good prospect after seeing a boy of 13 hit the ball. It was Ron Clase, who will always be grateful to Coach Ralph Boice for the sound tennis fundamentals and expert instruction that he received. Mrs. Boice also had some words of wisdom for her discovery.

Ron went on to bigger things. During his high school days at Warsaw he captured a statewide high school crown and is now a leading college player. He is a sophomore at Grace College. When the men's singles rankings of the Northern Indiana Tennis Association are released soon, Ron will be in the top three. The Boices also gave guidance to Steve Clase's tennis when he played for Warsaw High School. He is now attending law school at Indiana University.

The rewarding thing about working with young men during the years is that they have continued to keep in touch with me," says Boice. Undoubtedly their interest in young persons have contributed to the couple's youthful outlook on life.

Retires From Theater
Boice has retired from the theater business after devoting 60 years to it. Just recently he leased the Boice Theater to Roger Vores, of Muncie.

"Every policy decision on what movies were to be shown were made by both Gladys and myself. We always tried to be selective in our choices of films. Neither of us approve of the immoral type of movie which has become popular today. No theater manager is forced to show any of these movies. If we couldn't get good clean, moral first-run pictures we would try to run very good repeat films," said Boice.

"Movies used to be happy places of entertainment where families could laugh together. People used to get to movies to have clean enjoyment. There were the good, first-rate entertainments, featuring Will Rogers, Shirley Temple, Laurel and Hardy, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Keystone Cops, and a host of others. In my opinion, movies have gone steadily downhill, and I don't like the trend," Boice added.

What has proven to be the most valuable collection of films on the life of the city and county began as a matter of necessity 30 years ago. "Because of the lack of good short subjects, I decided to film local short movies of activities taking place in the county. I built my own film processing laboratory downstairs in my home. The first film, 100 feet, showed corn husking at Ray Ringer's farm at Mentone in October of 1938," he recalls.

These films created much local interest. Even now Warsaw residents would be fascinated to see re-runs showing them in their younger days taking part in Halloween parades, county fairs over the years. These included the days when they were held down town, Armistice Day and Memorial Day services, other local affairs.

The well-remembered Goshen tornado in 1938 was filmed by Boice and he developed and processed the film by noon to be shown at the theater that evening. Boice recalls that he told Bill Mollenhour of the Times-Union that he had taken pictures of the tornado and had them processed by noon. He says "Bill couldn't believe it. The newspaper had been sending their pictures to Fort Wayne to have cuts made. But shortly after this they acquired dark room equipment and then machinery to make their own cuts."

Historical Films

Among other historical films he has made through the years were the tragic Rochester circus fire in 1940 where animals were kept during the winter season; hundreds of animals were burned to death; the Bashore Feed Mill fire in 1949, at the corner of West Center and Columbia Sts.; the 1960 Carter Store fire; the last run of the old Winona Railroad in May, 1942, the first snow cruiser to go to the South Pole which came through the county in 1935, (Boice remembered that it was 16 by eight feet and the hub caps had to be removed as it crossed the Tippecanoe bridge.)

Also in the Boice film library are pictures of every group of draftees which left the county in World War II. Ralph made special prints of their sons for parents who saw them in the movie shorts.

Political celebrities who have visited Warsaw in former years are filed in the film library, including President Herbert Hoover at the old Hays Hotel, Earl Warren, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Barry Goldwater.

Sports Films
His greatest love in film-making has been football, basketball and track meets of high schools. He began filming Warsaw High School football practices and games for the Strand news. In 1938 Coach George Fisher, who died recently, asked Boice if he would make films of all the football and basketball games. Since then he has continued filming the games. Other high schools came to Boice wanting to have their own games filmed. He has trained persons in a number of surrounding schools in the art of film technique. He still processes these films in his home laboratory.

Many of these films have been used to help athletes obtain college scholarships; coaches from different schools often lend their films to each other; the Elkhart schools use the films as a means for a grading system.

Two years ago, as a public tribute to George Fisher at Lincoln School, Boice showed a full-length film showing the late coach as he trained Warsaw athletes through the years.

Without the help of his wife, Gladys, these movies could not be made. While her husband has worked for years in their home laboratory on Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays, she carried on with the business of operating their movie theaters.

Another creative effort on the part of both Ralph and Gladys Boice is reflected in their lovely home at 710 North Lake Street Built 30 years ago by Mrs. Boice's father Thomas Hough, of California, it is the first "split level" home to have been constructed in Warsaw. They both furnished ideas for the home, their principal objective being to have as many rooms as possible overlooking Center Lake. The first structural brick in Warsaw was used in their living room windows. A long living room with a grilled ironwork stairway leading to a balcony and upstairs bedrooms reflects the early California Spanish influence. All the iron grillwork was custom-made by Goshen Hamilton Iron Works. Every door, window and woodwork was built by Mrs. Boice's father. The living room leads down several steps to a lovely dining room overlooking the lake. The Boices face their wedding anniversary next year expecting to spend many more interesting years creating movies and playing tennis.

Their son, Randy, who teaches math at LaPorte Schools, has also become interested in filming high school football and basketball games and now processes his own film. He and his wife have three children, Kathy Kay, Diana Lynn, and Brian Kendel.

Downstairs Film Lab
The Ralph Boices pictured in a complete film processing laboratory in the basement of their home. It is here that Boice has processed films which he has made during the past 30 years. His film library shows a complete history of Warsaw and this county during this time.

Warsaw Times-Union Thursday November 21, 1968

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