To The Daily Sun,
The discovery of the drape used at the Lakeport Opera House unleashed many memories for me. I have jotted down a few thinking some of your readers might find them of interest.
My first memory of the Opera House was when I was 5 or 6 years old. I was on a sled pulled by a neighborhood boy when he slipped on ice and fell jerking the sled around and into the snowbank. An icicle, hidden in the snow, punctured my face and slashed from my upper nose to upper lip. The doctor decided not to sew the pieces together as that would leave a bad scar so he taped the edges together (and also most of my face) gave me a dime to go to the Saturday matinee at the Opera House and told me not to laugh or smile. The movie was a comedy and even today at age 96 I have the faint remains of that old scar and lots of good memories of an afternoon at the Opera House.
Every Saturday after that my father gave me 10 or 15 cents for the matinee and 5 cents for candy. The movies were silent and Mrs. Tefft played the piano. She had no music, but improvised for each change of scene on the screen. The movies may have been silent, but the kids were not. We booed the villains, cheered the hero, and giggled at the love scenes. It was bedlam and we kids loved it. The regular fare was westerns, comedies, and serials. One serial about pirates lasted for several weeks and caused me to have terrible nightmares. However, the Tom Mix westerns gave us lots of material for "cowboy and Indian" games all week.
The Mechanic Street School children frequently put on plays and musicals there. I remember being a Russian dancer in one and a police officer in another. Organized groups put on a variety of programs. I vividly remember my older sister dressed as a Dutch girl, complete with wooden shoes, dancing across the stage while singing. "Tiptoe Through the Tulips." Another group put on a play with a Mexican theme. I was asked to advertise it by riding my Welsh Pony through the streets of Lakeport, dressed as a Mexican boy carrying ads about the production.
In the 1950s the theater reopened for a short time. My husband, Dexter Royce a professional projectionist, recovering from surgery decided to visit the new theater. Talking to the owner we found the man very low on funds, actually living in the theater and running the equipment himself. Dexter volunteered to help him for a short time and I volunteered to sell tickets. The theater closed after Dexter returned to his full-time employment at the Laconia Colonial Theater.
I'll always remember climbing that long steep stairway to the theater, hearing the noisy children, and anticipating the excitement and joy that was to come at the Saturday matinee.
Lorraine T. Royce
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