Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 9, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
Saturday, February 9, 1974-THE LETHBftlDQE HERALD -5 People of the south By Chris Stewart Life is a stage, and people the actors THE VOICE OF ONE ________ Dr. Frank S. Morley Percy Morris has beer, winding reels for nearly 70 years movie reels, that is. He started at age eight while working for his Uncle Allen at the old Eureka theatre, and he's still at it. Today he's winding his own film feet of it in which he has captured some of Canada's most colorful events, including the official opening of the city's Japanese Garden. His name is inseparable from Lethbridge theatre. Ask him and he'll fill you in on the city's theatrical history. He ushered at the Starland and the Morris, collected tickets and served as both stage hand and stage manager at the Ma- jestic and for the Playgoers and has appeared in plays and minstrel shows. He's even watered elephants and erecfd circus tents. This native son has seen local theatre progress from the magic lantern stage in the city's first "picture house" with its squeaky kitchen chairs fastened together with boards and foot-high stage curtained with sheets, through the silent motion picture era when orchestra pits and ornate balconies became fashionable until the costly arrival of sound when some theatres folded rather than face the costly renovations. The city's oldest, the Oliver's Hall (part of the Oliver block located upstairs on Round Street now Fifth Street) saw travelling companies brave howling chinooks to haul trunks up the exterior second-storey stairway. Miners' concerts were held in the old Alberta Railway and Irrigation building across from Gait Square with the screen for the first outdoor picture shows erected right on Henderson Lake with the pictures pro- jected from the pavilion's upstair's window. Percy's uncle. Allen Morris, 'purchased the first silent movies in 1906 and opened the Eureka in the Lafferty block. He featured stock companies like George H Sumner. Tom and Ernie Marks (earlier known as the Mark's Brothers) and the Allen Players with Verna Felton as leading lady as well as the occasional vaudeville troupe When the 1908 power house fire cut off electricity he managed to keep his theatre running by renting a steam- operated tractor and dynamo, hiring an operator and making his own power elephants pull wagons bogged down in the mud. There were clowns, caged animals and steam-fired calliopes (similar to pipe organs) in the colorful street parade that preceded the circus' opening. Kids lined up for the plentiful jobs. Payment was always free admission whether it was the Sels Floto, Barnum and Bailey, 101 Wild West Ranch, Al G. Barnes, Clyde Beatty or Ringling Brothers. The circus stayed only a day but the excitement it engendered in arriving, disembarking, setting up equipment, the parade, their performance and their colorful departure was the highlight of the year. Acting excited Percy too. He got his start as a Chinese prince in Alice in Wonderland directed by the late Mrs. C. F. P. Conybeare. Proceeds went to the Sunbeam Ward of the Gait hospital. He was later cast as the female prisoner charged with bigamy in Hooligan's Irish Justice. Tom Chapman was the judge, Al Morris, the policeman and the late Robert Barrowman, the interlocutor. He credits the 500-member Playgoer's Club (he is a life member) With'keeping theatre alive during the depression. "If it hadn't been for them there would have been little entertainment during the hungry 30s. The travelling stock companies had stopped he said. He recalls, while stage manager, carrying a full set of scenery and furniture up the outside fire escape at the University of Alberta's convention hall for the first Alberta Dramatic League show, attended by the late great amateur theatre patron Hon Vincent Massey. Percy produced minstrel shows for the Men's Club of St. Augustine's church and as secretary and business manager of the Lethbridge local of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees he was the first local resident, during the 30s to attend conventions held in Los and Louisville. In 1921 he returned to Lethbridge, first'working for the city, then Lethbridge Mercantile. His career as a brakeman with the CPR began in August, 1922. In 1936 he was promoted to conductor but a heart attack in 1955 plus a subsequent one tne following year forced his early retirement at age 57. "Retirement? What's asks this versatile 75- year-old. He busies himself with wood-carving, a hobby he commenced when he received a tiny totem pole and while waiting for the CPR 'phone calls to come to work He carves his poles from pine and cedar then oils, paints and varnishes them so they will withstand winter weather. Three of his totem poles grace his front lawn with a bear and an Indian drum centering the rear. He has given many away to shut-ins and friends. His latest interest is carving "bluebirds of happiness" for wheelchair patients. He has his own darkroom, develops his own films and categorizes his thousands of feet of movies. He's a past president of the CPR Pensioners' Association and the Pemmican Club. Percy was born on Crabb Street (now Sixth Street) on April 3, 1899. His father, William Morris, had come west from Blenheim, Ontario and his mother, nee Jean Niven, one of 10 children of Gait mine head machinist Robert Niven, was from Truro, Nova Scotia. The Newton children and their mother travelled from Dunmore Junction (seven miles east of Medicine Hat) to Lethbridge in a caboose (there were no passenger trains on this Percy's wife, nee Myrtle Bates, a landscape painter (daughter of Thomas G. Bates, Pat Burns Meat Company buyer) came west to Taber from Ontario in 1910. They were married on February (the coldest day of the year, he While he has seen tremendous improvements in acoustics, decor, lighting and production Percy feels the quality of films has sadly declined. "There is far too much he says, "and very few good scripts." He wants to see a return to clean films. "If they would bring back good movies they could pack the he claims something like Uncle Tom's Cabin, shown in the old Oliver's hall years ago which taught Percy more about the cruelty of segregation than anything he has ever read, he claims. When Simon Legree whipped Uncle Tom and little Eva, the heroic white girl who sympathized with Tom, died, it made a deep impression on the viewers. "I've never forgotten Percy claims. As for his cornet which he values highly, he plans to present it to one of his grandsons, hoping, of course, he'll learn to play it as well as his grandfather. The small orchestra a pianist, drummer and violinist was popular then as were the singalongs with the words flashed on the screen: give-aways, such as the Country Store nights with grocery hampers, sacks of flour or sugar going to the winner and children's popularity contests when the most applauded youngster won a beautiful Shetland pony While amateur night winners walked off with prizes, losers were often hooked by the neck by a long stick with an attached iron hoop, when the disappointed audience hollered out. "Get the hook with the embarrassed contestant pulled into the wings The Eureka, soon too small for the growing population, was converted into an ice- cream parlor with its front dismantled and moved to the short-lived Monarch at 13th Street North. The Morris (managed by Al Morris) replaced the Eureka with the 1.000 seat Majestic's large stage a'tracling all the stock companies previously featured at both the Morris and Eureka, despite the fact its incompleted heating system ieft patrons shivering. These theatres, plus the Empress (located on the present Capitol Furniture (he short-lived Bijou adjacent to the early Salvation Army hall in the 400 block Fifth Street: the Starland (converted to a restaurant) and the Colonial (re-named the Capitol and demolished this past winter to make room for Woodward's) have ail passed from the local scene. The travelling tent shows, like the annual chautauqua with its assorted attractions and interesting lecturers augmented the city's "picture house" entertainment. But Percy found the circus the most captivating. He recalls waiting at the station for the circus train's 4 a.m. arrival to see lions disembark and But as thrilling as early theatre was he cherishes his boyhood fun far more. He learned to bob-skate on four runners on Duff and Freeman's Lake in the town centre before graduating to spring skates (the type you clamped He captained a hockey and baseball team and cadet corps for Central school and remembers hitching rides (for 25 cents) on an Indian's democrat from the Dallas hotel to the old fair grounds at Gyro park. He loved nobbies (much like lacrosse) played with a straight stick and two pieces of rubber hose tied with leather thongs at i2-inch intervals. Trees and telephone wires were festooned with nobbies. lost by players Sleigh riding in the coulees was thrilling. Percy claims the runs were far steeper than they are since Scenic Drive was created. They made their own bob sleighs, often bolting two together with a plank. They swam in the river at three favorite spots the Log. Stoney Castle or across on the west side depending on the river's depth. He rode the first open flat car over the high-level bridge in 1909 and remembers the planks used for seating and the passengers told to look straight ahead, rather than down, to avoid being frightened by the height. He recalls the perforated, galvan- ized pipes laid along boulevards for watering purposes and. as early as age five, carrying a five-pound lard pail of water from the water wagon, parked downtown, to moisten the young trees edging Gait Gardens. Tree planting was popular then as settlers attempted to bring shade to the prairies. He joined his parents planting trees at Henderson Lake during the First World War with members of (he 39th Battery (stationed at the Exhibition grounds) and the 113th Kiltie Battalion (housed at the King's hotel, now the York) overseeing the operation. As a city band cometist in 1912 he trained under Sam Kline of Great Falls. CT cometist with John Soosa's band. When he became a ship's fitter in Ontario in 1918 he joined the Coningwood Kiltie Band and later the Midland Citizen's PERCY MORRIS Photo by Walter Kerber Book reviews "Elizabeth Barrett Brow- ning's letters to Mrs. David edited by P. N. Heydon and P. Kelley, (distributed by Fitzhenry and Whiteside, The very title set the whole tone for this text. The work is non-fictional as one can see and is very highly specialized in content. Mrs. Ogilvy and Mrs. Browning were good friends. They were part and parcel of the British drifters who floated around Italy and other places during the last century. They were the jet-set of their day. The British had the money while the Italians had the sunshine and culture. For the common reader, this book would not make sense But for the thousands of Barret-Browning enthusiasts, the work is simp- ly essential to the cult. It presents and discusses a number of rather mundane letters newly come to light and edited by the two gentlemen above. The letters are hitherto unpublished and until very recently their ex- istence was perhaps unknown. To those uninitiated to (he cult, they mean nothing. However, universities and other such institutions should nave a copy on shelf. The book might help complete a picture and produce another work in the endless chain of more or less useful material printed by the ton yearly. LOUIS BURKE Lloyd George papers, national and local newspapers, many individual MPs, psephological analysis of constituency voting and results in a massive bibliography. Lloyd George remains an enigma as a person. His detailed movements in politics are all here. This is a political science classic by yet another Canadian to shed light on British politics. A. R. F. WILLIAMS "The Fall of Lloyd George" by Michael Kinnear (Univer- sity of Toronto Press, This is a minutely detailed analysis of the political climate in Britain around 1922 at the collapse of (he Liberal party as a major force in politics. The research by this associate professor of history at the University of Manitoba has involved analysis of the "A Time to be Born A Time to Die" by Robert L. Short (Harper Row, 9" x 117 pages, dis- tributed by Fitzhenry Contending that ours is a time peculiarly attuned to the thinking of the author of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. author Robert Short has prepared a book in two parts. In the first part he has arranged a series of his own photographs illustrating every verse in Ecclesiastes. The second part consists of two theological essays, one discussing Ecclesiastes' with modern atheistic man and the other arguing that the old book is a powerful negative witness to Christ I suspect that the modern man of (he first essay might find the argument of the second hard to follow and harder still to accept. It is a worthwhile ex- perience to read and ponder the material in this book. Some preachers might be prompted to deliver a sermon or (wo along the lines suggested by Short which could prove helpful to a lot of Ecclesiastes' kinfolk in the pews. The photographs are interesting, too, although Short has maybe relied too much on signs, posters, slogans, and the like to make his points. DOUG WALKER "Around and About Sally's Shack" by Dan Merkur (Peter Martin Associates Limited, 135 pages, These tales of the counter- culture are supposed to be, "an accurate representation of the high idealism of its teen-age author." There's lots of foul language and references to drug taking. No capital letters are used new style, new printing process, or affectation? A disappointing first novel. TERRY MORRIS Divorce American style "I'll tell them I remember you" by William Peter Blatty (W. W. Norton Company, distributed by George J. McLeod. Limited, 173 Readers of William Blatty's book The Exorcist will find his next book quite different. It is partly the story of his own life, partly a tribute to the memory of his mother. Included are some of bis ideas about the occult and about his concepts concerning life after death. ELSPETH WALKER "The Magic Fiddler" by Claude Anbry (Peter Martin Associates Limited, 98 Ten legends of French Canada which have been rewritten by Claude Aubry and beautifully illustrated by Saul Field. The moat popular character is the seek- ing souls for his kingdom, but there are also stories about a witch canoe, a werewolf, and supernatural events at sea and on land This fine book was published with a generous assist from the Canada Coun- cil and should be owned by all interested in TERRY MORRIS Since the family is the foundation of society, the escalating drive for easier and cheaper divorce and the co-operation of courts and legislatures have alarmed American sociologists. The New York Times in a lengthy study describes the movement to divorce as an a major fact of American life and a basic change in values. When people promise to remain married "until death do us part" they really mean "until it doesn't feel good any more." One in every three marriages ends in divorce and that doesn't' count separation and "the poor man's divorce. "In California the costs of divorce are being circumvented by "Do-It-Yourself" kits describing how to get a divorce and avoid legal fees. It is estimated that 20 per cent of divorces in California are obtained this way. Another factor increasing the divorce rate is the "no fault" divorce in which neither party has to be found guilty of misconduct. A major reason for divorce increase is the new lifestyle for women. More women work, are independent, and children can be left at nurseries. The many books on marriage have raised expectations of marriage so that everyone expects continual sexual and emotional satisfaction, expectations sure to lead to disappointment and discontent. Dr. Parson of the Esalen Institute claims that the Gestalt psychology informing everyone that they are unique, beautiful human beings with a potential for happiness and joy beyond their wildest dreams, has caused many to break out of their environment to seek self-realiza- tion. No longer has religion the restraining power to keep you in the line of doing your duty, however unpleasant, but the current formula is self-indulgence "enjoy yourself; it's later than you think." People have a fear of being short-changed by life. Moreover all conduct can be rationalized. "It isn't fair to a child to grow up in a contentious home." "A loveless home is a destructive home." "Morality is old-fashioned." "Vows are just something you say in church a form." The curious fact is the tendency to divorce in the forties. Women have raised the children and go in for a career; men are buried in business; both are concerned for their waning sexual powers and seek maximum enjoyment. Another curious fact is the willingness of either party in a marriage to overlook marital infidelity. In the hundreds of cases of marriage counselling in my experience rarely if ever has a partner refused to take back the other because cf marital infidelity. It is a commentary on the age that infidelity is almost expected and, when it happens, the chief problem is how to make the marriage work or get the other party back. Ralph Keyes, author of "We, the Lonely contends that monogamy is almost impossible in contemporary culture, there's too much temptation and too much opportunity for promiscuity. Not only do people no longer observe the Ten Commandments, they no longer know them, and for most the name of God is meaningless, hence there is no strong sanction to the commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." One minister told me he no longer preached on it, since no one would listen to him. This is a great pity. Such people miss much. They miss a profound loyalty and they miss real love. Adultery and adulterate are related words Sexual unfaithfulness leads to instability everywhere. Also, as the Bible points out so strongly, sexual unity is much more than a casual physical act. Sexual union creates psychological union, a spiritual union which cannot be broken by any casual decision or declaration. An irrevocable act has been performed. As St. Paul said, "Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with By "body" Paul means "personality." a union of being. People may pay no attention to this penalty, but it remains true and inevitable nevertheless. With their teaching on sexual fidelity, Jewish and Christian home life reached a purity and beauty unsurpassed in the world. The promiscuity and perversions of today, are not new, but are old as mankind and their results are historically demonstrable. Dean Smith, a marriage counsellor in Orange County, California, warns that you cannot have love without pain. Nor can you have anything else that is worth having. The message of every great life is that achievement involves suffering. A life guided by self-indulgence is doomed to ruin. A society where out of every three marriages one c 'ds in divorce has nojood future. It will soon go into history's ashcan. The University of Lvthbritlgv APERTURE One aspect of human husbandry Dr. Meintzer opened (he U of i chemistry department in 1967. He obtained his BSc in chemistry from North Dakota State University in 1950, his Master's degree one year later. In 1954, he received his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin. He is well-known locally for Us views on nutrition and health. Dog owners you make certain your dog gets out to exercise, don't you? In fact, good dog owners walk or "run" their dogs daily. Those who own a horse are well aware that a horse needs to work on a regular basis, if it is to stay in good condition. But do you walk or "run" your children? What about yourself? Do you take some exercise regularly? Is it possible that exercise is important for animals, but not for human beings? It appears to me that most North Americans' lives closely resemble those of steers or hogs in feed lots, being fattened for marketing. Such animals are confined and fed all they will eat. of the very best feed which can be supplied economically. Specialists in animal husbandry know all about such things. An owner wants to protect pets from an unhealthy cardiovascular system or undeveloped skeletal muscles, but he certainly does not intend to eat them. However, a feed lot operator avoids stress for his animals because he knows they are ill- equipped to deal with it. He's well aware top prices are attained by a certain quality of carcass. It's obvious that humans evolved in environments quite different from the comfortable surroundings we now enjoy. Comfort and ease have been recently added to most human's lives. Man once had to hunt and forage for his food, had to flee from animals and other enemies. Those who did survive and procreate had the greatest potential for living such an existence. At conception, today's children have inherited this potential for a vigorous life. Their early development involves tremendous activity and energy expenditure. Alas, this seldom continues Youngsters spend too much of the school day sitting and g0 home and sit in front of the television for several more hours. These are wasted hours in terms of physical development Penalties are paid in terms of heart disease and countless other afflictions in the middle and later years of life. Physical exercise is a necessity for children because developmental processes are occurring during their formative years. Failure to obtain maximal physiological development is a deficit which can never be made up. There is abundant evidence that physical in youth can reduce the incidence of heart disease in later years and extend the active vigorous life of the individual. Those of us beyond the age of 25 may regret the lost years of youth, especially if we did not use them properly. And, though you can't go back again, you can greatly improve the physical body you now possess. With medical advice you can engage in exercise programs which may extend your life and improve its quality. You can increase the chance of recovering from the heart attack, which one person in three at middle age or beyond may have at some time. Best of all. if you begin a program and stay with it, you will eventually recognize the value to yourself in the life you lead. Personal testimony is abundant among persons who have adopted and stayed with exercise programs. As a nation. Canadians have a sorry record in terms of physical fitness. Fortunately some signs of concern are now being expressed by the medical profession and by government. It is probable that a large part of the cost of health care to society could be reduced if programs were initiated to get persons of all ages moving again. Without exercise, the incidence of cardiovascular disease will be greater in the 20- and 30- year age group than ever before, and more than one in three middle-aged people will suffer heart attacks and similar problems. Perhaps, if we look harder, we may see some value in the current energy shortage and energy cost crisis. It might not be so bad after all, if the cost of gasoline and other forms of energy were to double or triple in the next few years... we might learn how to live again. Patiently waiting By DOUR Walker I'm not the only husband who has to wait around after church while talking gets done. When I emerged into the courtyard of our church recently I noticed both Stan Sproul and Al Wadstein, with resignation written all over (hem, standing and taking (be air. Presently Ellen Thuriow came by and reported to Stan that Beth was still talking in- side. Then, seeing Al, sbe said that was going at it too. But when I asked about Elspeth she said she hadn't noticed her For a short time a suspicion crossed my mind that Elspeth might have sneaked out the back way and gone home with an accomplice. It would have been a good trick and not altogether out of character, either because I wouldn't have gone looking for her until almost everybody else had disappeared from the premises.