25 YEARS AGO
December 10, 1994 – Saturday
“Jean Stapleton: Survival of Live Theatre at Risk”
The business of theater dominated the proceedings at Friday night’s gala benefit for Totem Pole Playhouse, until Jean Stapleton and her son John Putch took the stage to remind a full house that the real business of theater is art.
Stapleton and Putch enthralled the audience in Wilson College’s Thomson Chapel with their reading of A Christmas Memory, the late Truman Capote’s bittersweet reminiscence about a 7-year-old boy’s friendship with a quirky 60-something woman in the South during the Great Depression.
The performance came at the end of the gala sponsored by Caledonia Theater Co., a new non-profit organization formed to support the Totem Pole, a professional summer-stock theater that has been staging plays in Caledonia State Park for more than 40 years.
Earlier, during a dinner in Wilson’s Laird Hall, Stapleton was named honorary chairwoman of Caledonia Theater Co.’s Preserve the Magic fund-raising campaign.
“Your recommitment to live theater in this area is very inspiring,” Stapleton said. “You are contributing to a great national need, a time of great crisis in theater. The survival of live theater is at stake. Your commitment is a pebble that will create many ripples.”
Stapleton’s late husband, William Putch, guided the Totem Pole’s fortunes as producer for 30 years until his death from a heart attack in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1983. During that time, Stapleton performed on stage at the playhouse for 26 seasons, even after she achieved super-stardom for her Emmy-winning portrayal of Edith Bunker on the classic 1970s sitcom “All in the Family.”
Stapleton, who recently finished a sold-out off-Broadway run of Horton Foote’s Night Seasons, also asked audience members to write their elected representatives, opposing the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA has been the subject of much criticism for funding controversial projects.
The local Preserve the Magic campaign has a goal of $400,000, part of which will be used to help underwrite the cost of plays at the financially troubled Totem Pole.
50 Years Ago
December 10, 1969 – Wednesday
The old one-room schoolhouse at Potato Point, Cumberland County, is rapidly nearing completion as an historic landmark on the Shippensburg State College campus. The General Alumni Association funded the project as a tourist attraction and educational museum. The school was originally built in the late 1800s on the Newburg-Enola road at Potato Point.
100 Years Ago
December 10, 1919 –Wednesday
“DROP COINS IN KETTLE TO GET KIDS XMAS TREAT”
CHAMBERSBURG – Commandant William Price of the local Salvation Army makes the following announcement:
“Arrangements are being made for the Salvation Army free Christmas dinner to the poor of Chambersburg. also a treat to the poor children Christmas night.
“There will be no letter appeals sent out this year as was the custom heretofore. Persons desiring to assist can place their contribution in the kettles on the streets, or the boxes In the stores, or by sending same to Commandant William Price, 111 North Franklin Street, Chambersburg. Make checks payable to The Salvation Army. Provisions will also be accepted.
Should there be a surplus after Christmas expenses are paid, the balance will be turned in to the Salvation Army charity, building and general fund to be used in Chambersburg, as has been our custom In former years. Thanking the public In advance for a generous response.”