July 19, 2019

Letter to the Editor - Daily Leader Extra : Letters To The Editor

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Letter to the Editor

Editor, The Daily Leader:

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Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2019 3:39 pm

Faron Wahl's report on the Prairie Village Lawrence Welk Opera House in last Tuesday's paper reminded me of the rest of the story.

Back in 1971, one of the most creative minds in the community, Paul Redfield, conceived the notion that the vacant opera house in Oldham, where Lawrence Welk's band played back in the 1930s, ought to be preserved in Prairie Village.

But how to get it done was the question. To move the monster down the road took all the ingenuity of Telkamp's of Brookings. Then how do you pay for it?

Paul figured it out -- selling lifetime seats in the balcony at $200 each (for two). Then, Jim Johnson, Dakota State's drama instructor, formed Prairie Repertory Theater, enlivening the old "Socialist Hall." Barebones funding led Paul to find some of us willing to feed the players who struggled with no dressing rooms or air-conditioning.

Then we lost it as the theater moved to town after the new, air-conditioned Dakota Prairie Playhouse was built on the campus. Since then, the balcony, declared unsafe, left us original donors with nothing but some good memories.

But maybe that's just life. Who needs history in this exciting new cybersecurity world?

Gerald Lange

Madison, June 24