O'Fallon Progress

Crowd got a little rowdy at opening night at O’Fallon ‘opera house’

Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president.
Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president. rkirsch@bnd.com

J.A. Simon’s Star Comedy Company’s opening night in the fall of 1877 at 102 W. State featured “The Hidden Hand,” based on the 1859 serial novel by E.D.E.N. Southworth.

But John Lienesch didn’t go. Instead, he was persuaded by friends to go to a Liederkranz concert in Belleville. A very good concert, he said, but his heart was back at the O’Fallon opera house.

So, when the actors were back Tuesday night, so was he. He noticed, though, some interesting signs, hand-printed on brown wrapping paper, that were posted in the hall.

“No stomping, spitting or whistling,” said one.

“We like encouragement, but please applaud like human beings, not like wild beasts,” said another.

Apparently, the Monday night crowd was a bit rowdy. The signs seemed to work, since the Tuesday audience was much better behaved. The evening’s offering was “Rip Van Winkle.” (To be continued next week.)

75 years ago Feb. 11, 1943

For the second time within one week, the grim specter of war and its tragedy brought sadness to O’Fallon when word reached here Monday night that Fred Edsel Schempp, 22 years old, torpedoman third class of the U.S. Navy stationed on a submarine plying the enemy infested waters of the Pacific, was missing in action. (Schempp was on the USS Argonaut, a transport sub, that was sunk by a Japanese destroyer on Jan. 10, 1943. All on board were lost.)

50 years ago Feb. 18, 1968

Edna M. Ayers, nee Thurston, 82, a civic affairs leader in the O’Fallon area, died Thursday, Feb. 8. She served as librarian of the O’Fallon Public Library from 1945 to 1964, when her health forced her to retire. Mrs. Ayers was the recipient of the first diploma issued by the O’Fallon High School, where she was a member of the first graduation class in 1903. She served as chief designer and decorator of the floats for the O’Fallon Homecoming Association for many years.

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