Once upon a time in Craig, America: The Craig Theatre
June 5, 2015
Editor’s Note: This monthly series features stories from memoir writers in Craig, Maybell and elsewhere in Northwest Colorado who attend Colorado Northwestern Community College. They are intended to reflect the region’s fascinating history in the words of those who have lived it. Dedicated to the late Carol Jacobsen, who planted the seed.
When I was a freshman in high school, I was hired as an usherette at the Craig Theatre. This was in 1946. Tickets were 65 cents for adults, 45 cents for students and 20 cents for children. At the concession stand, popcorn was 20 cents, candy and soda were a nickel.
The usherettes were assigned uniforms. They were a medium blue color with gold trim. The slacks had a slight bell. The jacket had long sleeves, and the front was in the style of a drum major’s uniform, with a double row of gold buttons and gold trim. Each usherette was also issued a flashlight.
Wednesdays were the busiest nights. After the show, there was a big drawing. Every adult who bought a ticket wrote their name on a paper and it was put into a drum. The drum was pulled out onto the stage and whirled, then a name was picked. The winner received a cash prize of $25, which was a lot in those days. It was standing room only.
One day during my junior year we were in study hall. This was at the Breeze Street school. One of the kids looked out of the window and yelled, “There’s a fire!” Everyone went to the window and, sure enough, there was a terrible fire. The smoke was thick so we knew it was not far away.
A little while later, a girl from the office came in and announced, “The theatre is on fire, and so are Kelloggs and Brinkleys [those were stores on the same block].” What a shock. I had worked the night before and all was fine then.
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We walked over after school to see the damage, and it was much worse than we’d thought. Everything was charred and black and the firemen were still there, spraying it with water.
After the fire, the theatre moved into a building a couple blocks away. I was promoted to the ticket booth. But working there just wasn’t the same. There was a kind of sadness. Craig had gone through a big change and a new era had begun.