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Walsh County Press
Park River , North Dakota
December 21, 2010     Walsh County Press
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December 21, 2010

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PAGE 10 THE PRESS DECEMBER 22, 2010 Reel life in Park River,-ND: Part II pricing showed the importance of the film: instead of their usual dime, children paid fifty cents, and it cost adults either 1.00 or 1.50 for the evening performance. These prices were only marginally higher than those for the two afternoon performances. [Interestingly this was the only advertisement that the Lyric placed in the PR Gazette in the entire year of 1916.] The showing of "The Birth of a Nation" illustrated cultural lag that beset Park River, and all towns in North Dakota, for that matter. When "Birth" finally played locally, it was on its "farewell tour." The film had played five months earlier at the Strand Theater in Grafton (as the newly renamed Deluxe Theater was now known), and a full year earlier in Grand Forks. A bit earlier the First World War intruded onto the screen. In 1915, a year after the German army invaded Belgium, the Lyric showed European war pictures, with half of the proceeds going to the Belgian Red Cross. A year later a specially priced film, "The Battle Cry of Peace'" played for a day. It was a sensationalistic propaganda piece, New York City was bombed by German airplanes, andil machine gun-toting German soldiers accompanied i artillery duels along Broadway. This "wonderful appeal to Americans for preparedness," was evidently very popular, for the management scheduled three showings and.brought in an 8-piece orchestra, When America entered the war, the war entered the Lyric. With increasing frequency shows like "Bettina Loved a Soldier" appeared. In 1918 propaganda efforts on the screen grew more intense. In July Park River viewers could watch By David Larson for The Press PARK RIVER, N.D. -- Meanwhile Wallstrom and McEachron went to work on their new theater building. They had plans drawn up, employed EE Herwick as the contractor, and got ground broken before the end of April. They aimed to open by the first of July. The completed building was touted as an "absolutely fireproof," concrete block structure that would seat 300. The main hall with its 16' ceilings faced a 25'x12' stage. The stage area contained dressing rooms, "equipped with modern appliances and furnishings" suitable for staging troupes or vaudeville. Two aisles divided the seating. The six steel opera chairs in the center section of each row were flanked by three chairs outside of the aisles.. The floor in the main hall descended 4' fi'om the tbyer to the pit. A coal-fired furnace equipped with a modern electric fan ventilating system heated the entire main area. There was a ticket window to the right side of the foyer and a buffet area to the left'. When the building was completed the name "Lyric" flashed on the sign above the front door. The Lyric opened to great fanfare on ,8 July 1915. The Park River Band played se;ceral selections at the front of the theater before the show, then a five-piece orchestra remained to accompany the film. The main feature was "Caprice," with Mary Pickford. The big city critics had received the film well, and it is to be presumed that the large audience at both the early and late showings went away well satisfied with their experience. The report about opening night continued to praisethe building. The two electric fans provided good ventilation, it noted, but more importantly the building, with its double doors in front and two large exits at the rear of the building, was safe. The reporter especially noted that the operator's booth was specially guarded against fire. Prices on special nights were 20 cents for adults, and ten cents for children. For regular evenings without anything special on the menu, the price was a straight ten cents. During the second week adults paid twenty cents for "The Count of Monte Cristo" (plus a special on a tuberculosis sanatorium) and ten cents for a combination of three shorts, "The Intercepted Gift," "The Disappointed Suitor," and "Syd, the Bum Detective." The Lyric's attack, and the Grand's counterattack both seemed to be successful. But the prospects in a small town for continued head-to- head competition were not good. In October both Park River newspapers announced a merger of the two theaters. Mr. Hanson would become the general manager of the new enterprise, which would show films in the Lyric Theater building. The Grand's building was abandoned, standing vacant again, as it had for much of the preceding 15 years. The Lyric continued its high quality films. It showed Charlie Chaplin films and "Cleopatra" in 1915. The next year's showings ranged from "The New Wizard of Oz," to "Old Heidelberg," starting Dorothy Gish. Some of their films though were Probably B-movies. "Sons of Satan" does not promise great quality in any era, nor does "Brute against Brute." Sometimes outside orchestras played the theater. The Troubadors, advertised as a Chicago group played before and dunng "Bought." In April, 1917, the Park River High School Orchestra gave a concert before a crowded house. The paper noted that special mention needed to be given to Ella Hanson's violin solo. Very little mention was given to the music provided for the silent films in the earliest days, though in April, 1917, the Herald mentioned that the 3T-K Orchestra would be playing regularly on Wednesday evenings. The high point in the earliest history of the movies in town came on Thanksgiving Day, 1916, when the Lyric showed "Birth of a Nation," the earliest of the blockbuster mowes. The special big reels" of Red Cross pictures. Ahd in September "The Beast of Berlin," depicted German Emperor Wilhelm II along with German war atrocities. The building was put to educational use during the war years. Before the war live performers, were only for entertainment, whether they be the 3T-K Orchestra, or Professor DeWillow Semrau, the Concertina King. After American became involved there were live speakers on health issues, public sanitation or vaccination. Lora Little, of the North Dakota Freedom League, showed pictures of the disastrous effects of vaccination. She was responding to the mandatory vaccination imposed by the State Department of Health. Little's talks purported to show that vaccination was part of a program of tyranny and oppression being enacted everywhere by so-called authorities in the medical profession. But another kind of tyranny, the tyranny of the Germans, was much more prevalent in the Lyric's wartime meetings. The government developed the "Four-minute Men" program to bring out public support for the war effort. This program brought out prominent local community leaders to speak about the war. In Park River they were held on Friday afternoons. There was at least one War Savifigs rally in the theater building, and a farewell reception for 11 army recruits. The war also provided opportunity for a certain Baron de Malaussene to raise money for the Red Cross. The Baron, a wounded French officer from"over there," was now "doing his bit," He toured the Midwest, lecturing about realities of the war. In late August. 1918, he addressed a full house in the Lyric and as a result raised $50 for the French Red Cross. "Pershing's Crusaders." A month later came "five I There was a small difficulty: "the Baron" was a complete fake. A couple weeks later the French Consul let it be known that the man was not Henri de Malaussene (a rtoble's name) but Henri Simon (a name as common as John Smith). Furthermore Simon was not a French officer, but a Foreign Legion reject. It goes almost without saying that none of the money he received from the good citizens of Park River made it to the French Red Cross. After the war ended in November, 1918, the building settled back down to normal usage--for a couple of months. Then one Saturday in 1919 the Methodist Church burned down. By the next evening an improvised pulpit stood directly in the middle of the stage for the Methodists' evening services. In the early '20s the Lyric settled into its primary function of showing movies. It played modern film attractions ranging from the wholesome ("the Little Princess"), to the cultural (La Tosca), to a film that promised to be really racy ("The Unpardonable Sin")--all in one week. There were some live presentations. Grace Marbury Sanderson and William Langer spoke to full houses. Sanderson author of The Barbary Coast, accompanied the film based on her book. Her audience paid approximately twice the normal rate for her one-day appearance. Langer, the state Attorney General, gave what must have been the longest performance ever at the Lyric. He addressed a full house beginning at 8:00, and continued for three hours. Many Park Riverites heard radio of the first timenin the Lyric. In early 1922, a Magnavox radio receiving set was hooked up in the theater, so that the townspeople could listen to news bulletins and concerts from a station in Winnipeg. The theater was home to cultural performances from time to time. The St. Mary's choir sponsored a big "Vodvil" show in 1923, supposedl'y the first vaudeville show ever presented in town. A month later Olle i Skratthult [Ole from Laughtersville], "America's foremost Swedish comedian" drew a good-sized crowd, proving that there was still interest in old country entertainment.. Interestingly enough both audiences still had to pay the war tax on entertainment, even the war had been over nearly five years. A year later the WCAS senior class put on "Daddy Longlegs" In the next few years, the Lyric settled in. They still showed good features, Charlie Chaplin films, Lillian Gish and Ronald Coleman in "The White Sister. Adventure movies like "The Covered Wagon", an early Western, featuring 5000 actors, 500 oxen and a nine-mile prairie fire. The original silent film version of Cecil B. DeMille's "Ten Commandments" played in 1925, as did "Charley's Aunt. "The Ten Commandments" appeared in Park River about two years after it was produced, but "Charley's Aunt" was a new production. By 19,25 the Lyric was almost a teenager, but it had established a pattern. They still showed three films a week, Monday through Saturday. Sunday was still a day for rest, not for entertainment. Admission prices stayed low, fifteen cents for children and a quarter for adults, unless the theater showed premium movies. I suspect the buffet remained a constant, but there was never a comment about the quality of the concession stand. That's about the way it stood in 1925. Many changes were still to come: When did "talkies" come to the Lyric? When was the first color film shown? When and why was the marquis constructed? Has the Lyric hosted other kinds of events since 1925, speaking contests, orations, plays? When were the changing rooms finally removed? Did they serve good popcorn? I'd like to know the answers to these and other questions about the Lyric, and how it has developed in general since its youth, but Park River up to 1925 is all I can handle. It'll be up to some other, younger, historian to sketch the life of the Old Lady as she grew up, and tell how she is handling old age. I I I r NorthSCAN State,vide Classifteds HELP WANTED POLICE OFFICER, TIOGA, ND. License preferred. Strong focus on community policing. Excellent benefit package. Salary DOE. City of Tioga, Box 218, Tioga ND 58852. (701) 664-2514. SEEKING SALES AGRONOMIST to sell plant nutrients, crop protection products, seed and related services. Candidates should have a thorough understanding of crop production and a desire to work with producers to grow the business through farm planning, crop consulting and soil testing. A bachelor's degree in agriculture or equivalent experience is preferred. Send resumes to Shane Lester, Souris River Cooperative, Box 77, Newburg, ND 58762 or call (701) 272-6158. WANTED: AMBULANCE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR; minimum 3 yrs experience emergency healthcare, NREMT-Paramedic. BLS/CPR instructor and Instructor/Coordinator certification required. Contact Andrea, Cavalier County Memorial Hospital, 909 2nd Street, Langdon, ND 58249. (701) 256- 6127. Applications at www.cavaliercou ntyhospital .com. Deadline December 30, 2010. EOE. 11-YEAR OLD GROWING agronomy company is looking to add another Agronomy Sales position. Applicants must be self-motivated and able to work with farmers producing multiple crops. Good benefits and great team environment. Not just another local cooperative. Looking to go above and beyond to serve farmers and have fun doing it? Call Scheresky Ag Service today. (701) 678-2578, ask for Galen. RESIDENT MANAGER. MUST live on site in newer 58 unit N. Fargo complex. Salary negotiable depending on exp. Send resume to: Box 868, Fargo, ND 58104. ATTN: COMPUTER WORK. Work from anywhere 24/7. Up to $1,500 Part Time to $7,500/mo. Full Time. Training provided, www.KTPGIobal.com or call: (888) 304-2847. HURDSFIELD GRAIN, INC. is seeking a licensed commercial applicator. Dutie include spreading fertilizer, spraying chemicals, soil testing and fall anhydrous application. Pay dependent upon experience and skill set. Contact Terry at (701) 652-5934 or Chad at (701) 793-7382 for more information or to apply. FULL-TIME, YEAR-ROUND FARM POSITION available with Weckerly Farms of Hurdsfield, ND. We offer competitive pay, health insurance and paid vacation. Diesel tech degree preferred. Must have experience with operating machinery, GPS, and doing repairs. Contact Chad at (701) 793-7382 4 or visit www.weckerlyfarms.com for more information or to apply. NEW PAY INCENTIVES available for drivers! Freight Solutions of Hurdsfield, ND is looking for drivers and owner/operators. Drivers receive excellent pay and benefits. Owner/operators enjoy timely payment, quality trailers and steady work. We pull a variety of hopper bottoms in several U.S. states and Canadian provinces. Contact Chad at (701) 793-7382 or visit: www.weckerlyfarms.com if interested in this great opportunity! APPLICATOR/DRIVER NEEDED for custom spraying and custom fertilizer application business. Successful applicant must be willing to work flexible hours during application season. CDL required. Salary negotiable. Benefits include health, dental, vision insurance, 401k, pension plan, life insurance and disability insurance. To apply contact Shane Lester, Souris River Cooperative, Ph (701) 272-6158. APPLICATOR/DRIVER NEEDED for custom spraying and custom fertilizer application business. Successful applicant must be willing to work flexible hours during application season. CDL required. Salary negotiable. Benefits include health, dental, vision insurance, 401'k, pension plan, life insurance and disability insurance. To apply contact Shane Lester, Souris Rive(Cooperative, Ph (701) 272-6158. WANTED COMPANY DRIVERS & Owner Operators, have lease purchase programs. For sale 05 IntL & 04 Frthl. J- Mar (701) " 277-0039, gene.peterson@j-mar-enterprises.com. FRAC SAND HAULERS with complete rigs only. Tons of Runs in warm, flat, friendly and prosperous Texas! Great company, pay and working conditions. (817) 769-7621, (817) 769- 7713. REAL ESTATE FOR SALE WANTED: MINERAL INTERESTS (OIL & GAS LEASES) - Experienced Family Owned Oil Production & Exploration Co. We'll Help You Monetize Your Mineral Assets. Send details to P.O. Box 8946, Denver, CO 80201. MineralAssets@qwestoffice.net, (877) 754-3111. CAMPERS/RVS FOR SALE GREAT SERVICE & Selection at Midstates Campers & RVs. Over 300 Units Available! Special Pricing at MidstatesCampers.com. 866,531-6942. 1-90 Exit 48, Black Hawk, SD. BUILDINGS FOR SALE FOR SALE: BUILDING; good 43,000 sq. ft. Insulated, railroad, offices, processing room 175x75, storage 60x200. Hatton, ND. $150,000 or offer. (701) 587-6042 or (218) 779-5640. STEEL BUILDINGS: FACTORY DIRECT! Choice of Colors! 40x60, 50x100, 60x120, 80x150. Still time to take advantage of 2010 tax deductions on buildings. Call Wane (800) 211-9594. AUCTIONS 1226+/-Acre Ranch Auctidn Dec. 30, 2010 - 53 miles from Bismarck, ND and 41 miles from Dickinson, NDjust off 1-94 Exit 102 www.midwestauctions.com/gandg/Call (701) 290-4001. MISCELLANEOUS FOR SALE LOOKING FOR THE most complete listing of ND Media? ND Media Guide. Only $25! Call: (701) 223-6397, ND Newspaper Association. LET NORTH DAKOTA know what you have to sell. For $150, you can place a 25-word classified ad in every North Dakota newspaper. Contact this newspaper for details. MISCELLANEOUS HAVE A NEWS release or other information that needs to reach all ND newspapers? ND Newspaper Association can help! One call does it all. (701) 223-6397. Your Hometown er in. the Hea00 of Walah Counl00