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•   Robert Stone  3/1
•   Susan Krajcik (O'Shea)  3/4
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•   Garry Sellers  2/26
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•   Gordon Sauer  11/25
•   Daniel Merkel  10/30
•   Denis Kuehn  8/2
•   Warren De Smidt  6/13
•   Gordon "Allen" Mitchell  5/13
•   William Nelson  12/9
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Who lives where - click links below to find out.

10 live in Arizona
2 live in Arkansas
19 live in California
2 live in Colorado
1 lives in Connecticut
16 live in Florida
1 lives in Georgia
1 lives in Hawaii
3 live in Illinois
3 live in Indiana
2 live in Iowa
3 live in Kentucky
1 lives in Louisiana
1 lives in Maine
1 lives in Maryland
1 lives in Massachusetts
3 live in Michigan
6 live in Minnesota
1 lives in Missouri
1 lives in Montana
4 live in Nevada
1 lives in New York
4 live in North Carolina
1 lives in Oklahoma
4 live in Oregon
1 lives in Pennsylvania
2 live in South Carolina
2 live in Tennessee
9 live in Texas
2 live in Virginia
5 live in Washington
166 live in Wisconsin
1 lives in Wyoming
174 location unknown


Know the email address of a missing Classmate? Click here to contact them!


Percentage of Joined Classmates: 43.1%

A:   199   Joined
B:   263   Not Joined
(totals do not include deceased)


Theodore "Ted" Giencke
Passed away Feb 21, 2024
We received a brief email stating Ted had passed on the 21st and that's all the information we have.  He was at the 50th reunion (as pictured above) and his bio says he lived in Minnesota.  Ted, like many of his classmates including Marilyn Griffith, Rod Gehrig, Gene Melzer, Terry Janke, myself and many other Custer grads, grew up attending the Emanuel Evangelical United Brethern church, once at 36th and Rohr then moving to 38th and Silver Spring.
If you have any information, hopefully an obituary, please let us know either through "Message Center" in the left-hand column or my personal email.

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The Custer Northern California Contingency

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 ….  “Singin’ in The Rain” …
… is now considered one of the classic all-time musicals, although it was only created partly because they had leftover songs from other films like “An American in Paris”.  Other songs were shamelessly ripped off from other films and songwriters like Cole Porter.
Here are some fascinating facts around the movie:
Miss Burbank 1948 – Mary Frances (Debbie) Reynolds
Mary Frances Reynolds was a high school gymnast who entered and won the Miss Burbank contest.  At age 16, both Warner Brothers and MGM offered her a contract even though she had no acting, singing, or dancing experience.  She signed with Warner Brothers and Jack Warner changed her name to Debbie.  After two years of minor roles in musicals, Warner Bros stopped producing musicals, so Debbie moved to MGM.
Louis B Mayer, the head of MGM, called 18-year-old Reynolds into his office and told her she was going to be in a singing and dancing musical.  She, of course, said, “Yes sir.”  Mayer then called in Gene Kelly and told him, “Gene, meet Debbie. She’s going to be your leading lady.”  Kelly was also the co-director and had some other big names in mind.  Reynolds was convinced the only reason she got the role was that “her contract was cheap, and she was a little innocent girl, so they took a chance.”
She worked night and day for three months so she could dance with Kelly and O’Connor without embarrassing herself.

“Good Morning”

  • A big number for Reynolds was the “Good Morning” song which is thought by many to be the best song in the movie and in musical movie history.  Here’s a YouTube cut of the song.  Pay close attention.  There’s a lot going on.  (As usual, click on the arrow to start the video and then click on the square in the lower right-hand area to increase to full screen)

  • The rehearsals were so brutal that at one point Reynolds went to an empty rehearsal room and was crying under a piano, only to be discovered by Fred Astaire (not in “Singin”).  Astaire said, “Come with me,” and took her to another studio where he was rehearsing with a choreographer.  He danced exhaustingly for an hour while Debbie looked on.  “You’re not going to die,”  Astaire told Reynolds. “That’s what it’s like to learn to dance.  If you’re not sweating, you’re not doing it right.”
  • That’s not Debbie Reynolds singing!  That’s Betty Noyes’ dubbed in voice, a common practice in those days.
  • There are only 7 cuts (highly unusual for complex dance numbers) in the entire Good Morning dance number, at one time 30 seconds straight where the camera doesn’t cut even as it passes through the set’s wall.
  • Kelly and his co-director devised ways to lessen Reynolds’ dancing, like by putting her on a stool while Kelly and O’Connor do their thing.
  • The dancers are told not to look down at their marks, but you can see Reynolds do it quickly in several scenes.
  • The final part of “Good Morning” required all three to simultaneously step over the sofa and land seated side by side.  Anything out of sync and they had to reshoot the scene.  And reshoot they did … 40 times.  It took 15 hours and by the end Reynolds’ feet were bleeding and she had to be carried to her dressing room. She didn’t dance for the next two days.  Kelly then proceeded to use the FIRST TAKE!
  • Notice at the very end of the sequence they all plop down on the sofa.  You’ll see that Reynolds makes a determined gesture, pulling her short skirt down over her knees with a deft hand, so that her panties can’t be seen when she lands seated.   As a reporter stated, “That gesture, quick as lightning, is beautiful because in the same image we have the height of cinematographic convention (people who sing and dance instead of walking and talking) and the height of truth, a little lady taking care not to show her thighs.”
  • Reynolds' solo rendition of "You Are My Lucky Star" with her own voice was cut after previews where it's still included.
  • Reynolds turned 19 during the shooting.   And her character’s love interest, Gene Kelly, was 39!
Other “Singin’” Facts
Cyd Charisse
("Cyd" was how her little sister pronounced "sister")
  • Cyd Charisse, an acclaimed dancer whom Kelly had admired since seeing her work with Fred Astaire in Ziegfield Follies, was brought in to cover the dance scenes that were thought to be too much for Debbie Reynolds.  Charisse is only onscreen for a few minutes, in the “Broadway Melody” dream ballet sequence.  As Kelly’s love interest the scene should logically have gone to Reynolds.

  • Watch as Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse are dancing at the 2:41 mark in the Broadway Ballet #1, and you’ll see a jump cut.  The camera doesn’t move, but something’s clearly been snipped.  It’s never been confirmed but the true explanation probably is that censors deemed a portion of the dance too suggestive.  (They’d warned Kelly beforehand not to choreograph Charisse wrapping her legs around his waist.)  The footage was removed, and the music was re-scored to match the sequence.

  • Charisse is seen smoking at the beginning of the dance number.  She was a non-smoker and had to be taught how to smoke.  She thought it was the most disgusting thing she ever did and never smoked once after the movie.
  • Charisse is taller than Kelly, at least in high heels.  Kelly choreographed the sequences with Charisse so that they never stand upright side by side.  At least one if not both are bent over in some fashion while dancing.
Donald O’Connor – “Make ‘Em Laugh”

  • “Make ‘Em Laugh” is a direct rip-off of a Cole Porter song “Be A Clown” from the 1947 musical “The Pirate”, but Porter didn’t seem to care.
  • The physical exertion required for the scene would have been demanding for anyone ... and O’Connor, by his own admission, was smoking four packs of cigarettes a day.   After the sequence had been shot O’Conner had to do it all over again, because a technical error made the footage unusable.  He spent the next 3 days in bed (no doubt smoking) because of exhaustion and painful carpet burns.
Rita Mareno

  • Rita Mareno played silent movie star Zelda Zanders.  She was excited because it was a departure from the ethnic stereotypes she had previously played.  She was to have had her own number, "Make Hay While the Sun Shines."  It was cut. 
The Title Number:  “Singing’ in the Rain”

  • The title song wasn’t even special for the movie.  It was originally released in a Broadway production and then in the film “The Hollywood Revue of 1929.”
  • The number took 3 days to film during which Kelly had a temperature of something between 100 and 103 depending on who you talked to.
  • There were dancers off-stage with their feet in buckets of water to help dub some of the tap sounds.
  • The artificial rain made Kelly’s wool suit shrink!
  • There was a rumor that they added milk to the artificial rain, so it’d show up better on film.  Not true.  Kelly attributed it to clever back lighting.
  • Kelly said, “The real work for this one was done by the technicians who had to pipe two city blocks on the backlot with overhead sprays, and the poor cameraman who had to shoot through all that water.   All I had to do was dance.”
  •  Everyone Was Afraid of Gene -  Even O’Connor admitted that Gene's hyper focus on perfection led to a tense time on set. He was terrified of making even the smallest mistake during the first few weeks of filming and getting yelled at by the leading man.  In one take of a dance routine Kelly suddenly got angry at Donald.  Later, over dinner, Kelly explained he was upset with Reynolds but didn’t think she could handle his anger so he yelled at O’Connor instead.  They both got a laugh over it.
  • The Original Film Negatives Are Lost - Decades after the film's premiere, all the original footage was lost to a fire at some point in the late 1970s, meaning we will never know if any bloopers or extended scenes could have entertained us as special features on our home copies today.
  • The movie cost $2.5 million to make, $600,000 or almost 25% over budget.Big numbers for 1952!However, it grossed $7.2 million … even bigger numbers!
"Singin’ in the Rain" is streaming on most services, for free on HBO/Max, $1 on Apple+, $3.99 on others.
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Holy Hill Camera - November 1
And the most beautiful 2 weeks in Wisconsin comes to an end.
Holy Hill Camera - October 30
Holy Hill Cam - October 20
Holy Hill Camera - October 16