The Odessa Record -

Opera House, Chamber, Veteran's program, Scott Kirby a hit, Film Festival

Series: Harrington News | Story 5

Last updated 11/19/2018 at 7:44pm


Opera House Society

Monday, Nov. 5, the Harrington Opera House Society met at the opera house with Linda Wagner leading and the following in attendance: Mark and Sheryl Stedman, Carol, Ed and Bunny Haugan, Marge Womach, Susan Larmer, Becky Moeller, Peter Davenport and Ellen Evans. Updates were provided on the repairs to the chandeliers in the auditorium, bids for a furnace for the lobby and the winterization schedule. Discussions were held pertaining to the week’s events. Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. was agreed for a kids’ concert as requested by Taunya Sanford. Preparations are under way for The Pine and The Cherry presentation on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m. which will describe the situations faced by Japanese Americans during World War II. This should be an educational afternoon. Admission is by donation.

Chamber of Commerce

The Harrington Area Chamber of Commerce met Wednesday noon, Nov. 7, with the following present: Cade Clarke, Paula Harrington, Heather Slack, Bunny Haugan, Kathy Hoob and Cherie MacClellan. Discussion was held preparatory to Senior Baskets and for candy bags for Santa’s pictures. Work continues on the touring map of Lincoln County. Hoob will decorate for the Tree Lighting ceremony at the gas station and Grain View Park. Work is being offered for rebuilding the roof of the nativity. Dillon Haas will be responsible for organizing the carolers this year. Harrington ordered Christmas wreaths.

Details of the Hometown Christmas Bazaar were discussed. The WWI Armistice Centennial will be celebrated Friday at the school with Michael Cronrath’s annual program, Saturday at the Opera House with Geoff Talkington showing a film festival from 10 to 4 p.m. and Sunday with a bell-ringing event at the Memorial on the lawn of the original City Hall on the corner of 3rd and Sherlock.


On Nov. 9 in the gymnasium, school teacher Michael Cronrath led the school and visitors in the annual Veterans Day program which this year commemorated the World War I Armistice Centennial. Each year Cronrath adds to his materials, but the event remains the same in many respects: Introducing the colors, acknowledging the veterans living in the community and teaching the community of the sacrifices that are made. There were about 20 veterans from various branches of the service in the audience, among them two women.

Scott Kirby

Also on Nov. 9, the Harrington Opera House presented Scott Kirby in “Main Street,” a combination of photography, original artwork, video and narrative, with Kirby playing piano selections of Americana music and original compositions. Linda Wagner welcomed the audience and requested that cell phones be turned off. Kirby had come to town early to set up, and then went with Wagner to the Transitional Care Unit in Davenport where he played for the patients, which brought tears to one gentleman’s eyes. This audience burst into steady applause for his gesture to share his talents with the patients. Kirby announced his program divisions, acknowledged his appreciation of Wagner’s tour of the opera house and began the showing of his artwork as he spoke. His introductory pictures included local rural barns, the Zion church, our antique barber shop, Scott & Bunny, a photo of the old panoramic view of Harrington, the Post & Office with Heather and Linda and a photo of Linda Wagner in the Opera House describing the process of salvaging the old abandoned building that began in 1992.

This truly educational collection seemed to please the audience as people recognized long-forgotten facts and historic events that Kirby highlighted, such as picnics, parades, gazebos, medicinal cures, vendors, all in the era of John Philip Sousa. Similarly, he spoke of the era of Scott Joplin and the cultural shock of “Ragtime Music”, and how it was portrayed with resistance by preachers, politicians and newspapers as “corrupting the youth,” “disturbing the rhythms of the heart,” “a scourge,” “debasing,” “a poisonous contagion” and “suggestive of indecency.” Following this dialogue, he returned to playing the music of Scott Joplin, who he said had aspirations as a teacher and composer but not as an entertainer. He stated that in 1899 Joplin changed America with “Maple Leaf Rag.” The audience was visibly in motion with the beat of the music.

In 1906 came “the menace of the phonograph” which was feared could replace real musicians, or worse yet, “music machines may kill music.” The piano was the center of home entertainment. The evening was an emotional roller coaster with “America the Beautiful” and “Beautiful Dreamer” being followed by “There’s No Place Like Home.” Every word carried a message, and the audience heard about “home plate” as a journey of passage, as his photos showed players sliding across home plate, while listening to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “Roberto Clemente.” In Kirby’s “Invitation to the Dance” he played his arrangement of Boogie in C and followed with speaking on the dance music of the 1940s. He stopped for an intermission and without losing a beat or a patron, he spoke briefly of Prairie Visions and his appreciation of all whose who made this night possible, coupled with his thoughts on the essence of communicating. His photography for “Vibrations on the Prairie” were phenomenal for the precision with which the music he played paralleled the photography of the wind crossing the green fields, waves of greens, dirt trails, fence lines, wind mills (old and ultra modern), driving snow on the road, wind pushing the golden grain and the bending of cheat grass and prairie weeds to the tempo of the piano.

“Reverie for the High Plains” and “Echoes from the Schoolyard” were two additional arrangements by Kirby, the latter “sounds coming to us from far away, like a dream.” His presentation of dragons, schooners and cathedrals included “Nearer My God to Thee” (by Sarah Flower Adams) and “Pine Ridge Toccata” by Kirby. In “Garden of Lost Dreams” and “Charbonneau,” both by Kirby, his music reflected the pictures that were shown, fluctuating from real photography to artistic drawings, and back and forth. A modest crowd offered an abundance of applause and left with music elevating their spirits, their hearts warmed from the nostalgia.

Centennial Film Festival

Saturday morning at 10 a.m. a few brave souls came out in the chilly morning air to view a selection of films rented by Geoff Talkington to show in remembrance of the World War I armistice. Getting a slow start, the event was successful as the ice melted and people came to assemble in the opera house Art Room.

The films were shown in the following order: “A Soldier’s Journey” and “Lafayette Escadrille” preview, which were bonus shorts, allowing stragglers to join the audience. The first film, “The Millionaires’ Unit”, lasted about two hours, with Talkington serving water and popcorn. The second film, “The Hello Girls,” was a documentary on the positions that women filled in the war, as well as their 60-year struggle for veterans’ benefits and a 100-year struggle for recognition. Talkington declared an intermission to allow the group to find a quick lunch and return for the conclusion of the films. During this time, “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” was running with the sound low while some visited and left to return shortly. One man brought his guns and weapons for a “show and tell” which concluded as the audience returned for the final film, “Pershing’s Path To Glory.” Two students, three members of the Opera House Society, Talkington and 11 others enjoyed the World War I Armistice Centennial Film Festival. Two women and four men are veterans.

Geoff Talkington is the son of Tom E. Talkington and grandson of Roy Talkington. In 1961, T.E. Talkington, who was in the audience, was just completing training in parachute jumping in Georgia while stationed in New Jersey. T.E. Talkington was hit with agent orange in Cambodia and more recently had a brief bout with cancer in his leg as a result, but appears to have won that battle as well. Geoff Talkington is also a veteran.

Memorial service

Sunday morning, Nov. 11, a number of interested citizens began meeting at the Lincoln Hotel at 10 a.m. in preparation for the 11 a.m. War Memorial Service at Grain View Park at the south end of Third Street on Sherlock. At 10:45 the invocation was given by Tony Hamilton of the Community Church. Talkington read the proclamation written by Mayor Justin Slack, setting aside this day. Diane Sanchez presented some printed material regarding the lives of the men who were immortalized by the five-ton monument on the lawn of the old City Hall, presently owned by Geoff Talkington as his residence. “On the front face it bears a bronze plate bearing the names of the five boys for whom it was dedicated: George Armstrong, Floyd Hinshaw, Wesley Miller, Charles Scott and George Witt.” (Citizen: 11-12-1926) For these five men, Talkington arranged to have a 21-bell salute, the bell being rung by veterans and others at this service. The event was supported by the Community Church and about 30 persons were present. In the chilly air, the group retired to the Hotel Lincoln for hot drinks and snacks, patriotic music and conversation.

The Fallen. George Armstrong, son of George “Doc” and Mary Eliza Armstrong, died of pneumonia at Camp Lewis on Sunday night, June 24, 1918, the first war-time casualty from Harrington. Floyd K. Hinshaw, only son of Wilbur and May (Lacey) Hinshaw, was killed in France on Oct. 8, 1919. His body was returned after the war. Wesley Miller, son of Solomon Henry and Susanna (Pfrender) Miller, was killed in action at Epinouville, France in the Argonne offensive. His body was later returned to Arlington Cemetery. Chas. S. Scott, son of E.C. and Lettie A. (Smith) Scott, died in Detroit, Mich., of influenza. Geo. M. Witt, Jr., son of George M. and Alma (Kals) Witt, lost his life in France due to wounds received. He was buried in France, but his body now lies in the Arlington Cemetery, Washington, D.C.


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