Julian Gromer Collection
Julian Gromer (Sept. 19, 1907- Dec. 4, 1986) worked as a 16mm travelogue lecturer from 1938 to 1975. Before his work as a lecturer he worked as a typesetter for a publishing company. In 1938 he began lecturing with a 8mm film of a vacation to California. He quickly added 16mm films of vacations to Mexico and Alaska. At that time Gromer lived in Elgin, Illinois, and most of his lectures took place in the greater Chicagoland area at churches, civic organizations, school groups and private parties.
In August of 1941 he married Gertrude Radatz. They spent their honeymoon in Hawaii during which Julian shot the footage that became Hawaiian Paradise. He began lecturing with the film in October of 1941. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor greatly increased demand for the film and in 1942 he was picked up by the professional lecture booking agency, the Redpath Bureau. He made one last film before spending the rest of the war years in the U.S. Army signal corps where he shot 16mm training films. Gertrude took over lecture duties while Julian was in the service.
After the war Gromer recommenced his travelogues with a 1946 film on Cuba called Sunny Cuba. Until 1959 he averaged one new film a year making films about trips to Nigeria; around Lake Michigan; along the Columbia, Colorado, Amazon, and Hudson Rivers; the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coasts of America; across southern Canada; following sheep herders in Idaho; and to the Grand Canyon. In 1959 Gromer became co-owner of the Grand Rapids, Michigan based company Windoes Travelogues, Inc., which books travelogue lecturers. That year the Gromers – Julian, Gertrude, and their two sons John and Gary – moved to Grand Rapids.
Running Windoes Travelogues lessened the number of films he made. From 1960 until his retirement he made five more films. In 1964 he traveled to the Grand Tetons. In 1966 he retraced his journey to Hawaii and made a new version of Hawaiian Paradise. His final three films revolved around his work with Wandering Wheels, which was a Christian youth group that conducted cross-country bicycle trips for teenagers.
In 1975 Julian Gromer retired from filmmaking and lecturing and sold his shares in Windoes Travelogues to his son John. Until the end of his life in 1986 Gromer continued to advise his son on running Windoes and acted as a mentor to travelogue filmmakers.