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Readers share their memories of the Opera House
I have included a copy of the only photo I have of our graduation night. The photo shows the class leaving the stage after the ceremonies. Some of your readers of the period will undoubtedly recognize Miss Klain playing the piano in front of the stage as we marched out. — Jerald R. Cox, West Paris
NORWAY — With the restoration and reopening of the first floor of the Opera House in Norway, there has been a groundswell of support and excitement which has also brought with it a bit of nostalgia for years gone by.
"I remember the 'old' Opera House very well," writes Dr. John W. Trinward, DmD, of Waterford.
"Her [his wife, Margaret “Meg” Greenleaf Trinward] class of Norway High School held their 1942 graduation ball there. We both attended with other partners, but we swapped dances and, six years later after a war and some college, we were married. It lasted 64 great years and four wonderful offspring until her death last October."
Marilyn Jones shares this with us: "I have heard my mother, Ona Mcalister, tell about her brother, Win Flanders, producing plays at the Opera House many years ago. Among those were 'East Lynn' and 'Saratoga.'"
"She said Hal Anderson was usually a member of the cast."
And then there is this from Jerald R. Cox of West Paris:
"I just wanted to share my memories of the Norway Opera House. Some of my earliest memories are school plays and graduations of my older sisters from Norway High School. The Opera House was used extensively for those type purposes. I remember sitting near the windows so I could watch the tractors coming and going at C.B. Cummings' Mill across the brook as they brought in birch bolts from the log yard to be made into dowels.
"Then right in the middle of things, no matter what it was, the pipes would start banging as the steam from Cummings Mill was brought in to heat the building. The steam pipes were supported above the stream and were connected directly to the boiler room at Cummings' Mill. Hard to imagine free heat for a public building nowadays isn't it.
"As a teenager, my friends and I enjoyed numerous country western concerts at the Opera House. We watched such celebrities as Doc and Chickie Williams, Big Slim the lone cowboy, Gene Hooper (very instrumental in bringing these shows to us), Hal Lone Pine, and a host of other well known WWVA "Opry" stars. I still have the autographed photos and record albums I purchased at these shows. Big Slim even performed a trick shoot at the opera house one night. These are among the memories that will never be repeated or replaced in my mind.
"Later there were the movies. During the eighties, Jim Beckerley remodeled the place into a movie theater and my sons and I watched quite a few James Bond movies and other action packed thrillers sitting in the seats at the Opera House.
"But, as mentioned above, there were the school plays and the graduation ceremonies performed in the elegance of the Opera House that meant the most to me. I remember being in a school play in sixth grade and how proud we were to perform in front of the entire community at the Opera House.
"Sometimes we would walk up during a school day to watch a play or a musical performed by another class or group. It truly was an experience that many will never have the opportunity to enjoy.
"Perhaps my most cherished memory is of my own high school graduation performed at the venerable Norway Opera House. I was among those giving graduation speeches that night and it seemed the place was full to overflowing. The reason I find this so important, is our class, 1961, was the last graduating class from Norway High School, and it was last graduation ceremony performed at the Opera House. The following year we had become Oxford Hills School District and graduations were moved to the gymnasium in South Paris.
"I have included a copy of the only photo I have of our graduation night. The photo shows the class leaving the stage after the ceremonies. Some of your readers of the period will undoubtedly recognize Miss Klain playing the piano in front of the stage as we marched out. I only wish she was around to give her memories of the Opera House. She played that piano a whole lot of times back in the good old days of Norway Opera House."
We do hope that these wonderful memories will inspire others to share theirs and we head into the future ready to make new memories at the Norway Opera House.