I can’t remember when that big white building did not hold a sacred place in the village of Locke Mills, Maine. I am sure the historians can tell me the exact date it was erected, but the memories take me back probably seventy years.
Excitement reigned supreme when a “cowboy” show was coming to town. Our neighbors, Grace and Charlie Day took me to many. The big red curtain hung and I could feel my heart pounding, just waiting for Ken MacKenzie to appear. There he stood, bigger than life, just like I heard him on the radio. Soon he would introduce “Simone the Missus” and his beautiful wife appeared and sang. It was pure magic.
Oh, goodness there was the Lone Pine Mountaineer. Remember his song, “Come on and listen and I’ll sing and play for you, I am the Lone Pine Mountaineer…” One of his guests who stood on that stage in that tiny town was Hawkshaw Hawkins, who later died in a plane crash along with Patsy Cline. I remember paying a few coins for his 8 by 10 glossy and thinking he was the most handsome man ever! The queen of the stage along with Hal “Lone Pine” was his wife, Betty Cody. How she yodeled!! At the young age of 9 or 10, I never dreamed that one day I would interview Betty Cody and her singing would go on and on for years. She was a lovely person, but I digress. Somehow music takes over my thoughts.
The town hall welcomed me and the rest of the eighth grade when we graduated in the spring of 1951. The two girls, Kay Dorey and I were decked out in white dresses and shoes. I admit those white shoes were a far cry from my battered old sneakers which I preferred! The boys twitched and pulled at their dress clothes as we marched down the aisle.
Through the years I strolled across the stage with other local ladies as we performed musical numbers. The audiences were wonderful and appreciative. I remember one number where we twirled umbrellas and did quite a bit of choreography to “Carolina in the Morning..” Oh to have another evening like that!!
As the years went by, there were ballroom dancing lessons held…not for long that I can remember. I had just married, but participated without the new husband. He had no desire to learn the cha-cha and I loved dancing and a challenge. I was no huge success in the dance field, but manage to find a partner who tolerated my moves.
Oh, if those walls could only talk. I stood in line to sign up for unemployment insurance for the first time. I was a nervous wreck but believe it was Johnny Newell who was handling the whole thing and that made me feel a bit better.
I attended my first labor union meeting there, trying to understand the whole procedure so I could hold an intelligent conversation with Dad, who was a strong Union man and was on negotiating committees.
When the four children were small, they dressed in buckskin costumes my Dad bought out West for Halloween and there we were again, marching in a circle to see who would win a prize. They didn’t, but it was another gathering at the magnificent building.
Years later, I was on stage again singing with a pick-up band for a fund raiser. That is one thing small towns are known for…caring for each other. There was dancing and the money came in for the cause.
At the same time, I was Secretary for the Town and occupied a small room on the first floor for anyone who needed answers. I got few requests and did a lot of paper work. Not my favorite job at the time.
The last time I was at the Town Hall was the early eighties. My son, Alan and I had a little thing going at the time. Music again! We played at different venues and when we were asked about entertaining for a good cause back in our home town, we thought, “Why not?” It was with great memories that we stepped out on the stage that night and looked down into a sea of faces, some so familiar and some not so familiar. We sang three songs and for the final time I left the stage that held so many memories.
The building must be getting weary now. It has stood for so many years with so many memories. It is the landmark for which I look every time I go back to my home town and as we pass, I smile. I hope it can stand for many more years.
That town hall is a treasure.