An eagle-eyed reader pointed out that after all my pomp about the impending arrival of a biscuit tin during my trip to see “Elderly Aunt” there was no mention of the biscuit tin that was due to be entrusted to my care. I returned to Austria reeling from how the country I had spent most of my formative years in was now somewhere I no longer felt at home at. Fortunately, following a restorative drink or two at the Fischerbräu (I declared beer o’clock today after trying to sort through the tin), I am now able to rectify that.
The contents included a number of old family pictures, which will look good once put in an album and Elderly Aunt was more fastidious than I remembered in writing on the back, who and when and where. There were a number of small keepsakes – touted as family heirlooms although of little more than sentimental value. I’ll have two small cinefilm reels converted onto DVD or USB stick if I can find out how to, as apparently there is footage of my parents on them.
However, there was one item that was really quite heartwarming to think she had kept – it was possibly the first postcard I had sent from Vienna, when I moved over here, and it was advising of my address. There were no details like a phone number, but it did help to trigger my memory about where exactly I had lived at that time – I knew the street number, but couldn’t remember the Stiege and flat number. The flat is no more – the house gave way to a Gemeindebau project in the late 1990s.
My brother’s tin contained some old printed stationery my parents had had done (I think my father’s brother worked as a printer for a while, and there were examples of visitors cards / calling cards, compliments slips, postcards with their address on – although given how often they moved around I don’t remember anything about the house – it might have been before my time too.
From the room in the flat listed on the postcard, it set me thinking – with a bit of a search I established that there was a former cinema around the corner, that I believe is now a Turkish supermarket, and this nostalgia got me thinking about the demise of cinemas in Vienna. I’m certainly not the most frequent cinema visitor – I tend to wait for a film to appear on DVD, although now as a recent convert to Netflix that might change. My neighbour regaled me about there having been two cinemas on Sieveringerstrasse at the other end of the Obkirchergasse alone. One was where Denns organic supermarket now is – the narrow entrance and then wider room further back was once the “Olympiakino”, and there was another, the Universum Kino was where the Bank Austria branch is now.
On my frequent route down the 38 tram into Schottentor, until recently there were still clear remains of another two cinemas on Nussdorferstrasse close to the Gürtel. One has met a similar fate to the one near my first garret, with the last reel change having taken place a number of years ago at the Auge Gottes Kino, although it was only last year that it was converted into a Hofer with a “Backbox”. Another Hofer supermarket used to be the “Collisseum Kino”. Over the road slightly further towards the city centre a tanning centre (or “Prolotoaster” as they are sometimes dismissively called) has gone recently, that still had the display cabinets from the days when that was still a cinema.
There is a great collection of pictures of Viennese cinemas from the 1980s on vice.com, which brings some of my earliest memories of going to the cinema here flooding back.