Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - October 17, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta
Saturday, October 17, 1970 - THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD - g Builders Of The South Marf*aret Luckhurst Work And Challenge Keeps 'Sh ack' Young npHE TROUBLE with all your stories of old timers is you make everyone sound too nice," AlfrM WUliam Shackle-ford (Shack) announced recently when approached for an in-erview. "We weren't all a bunch of do-gooders with halos over our heads you know. And in order to get things moving in this town there were times when we had to take measures not acceptable to people who were against change; who hated to see signs of progress. So when you write about me, please tell it like it is and don't flatter me too much." Mr. Shackleford, theatre man and former civic and community leader was recently involved in the 'sad' process of moving out of the old Capitol Theatre which he opened on Thanksgiving Day 1929. Lake a once-lovfily woman now faded with age, the ornate old building was reduced to a mere shell of its former self. The seats were gone, the sound equipment had been sold and the stage, where many performers had done their stuff, was cluttered with tlieatrical trappings. "After forty years of associa-Iton with tills place I feel like crying every time I see it now," Mr. Shackleford said, "but sentiment has to give way to practicality, and big places like this are not needed any more for today's theatre audiences." -k it -k It's closer to fifty years since Mr. ShackLeford first got into the theatre business wliich sidetracked him from a budding career as a draftsman. "Kids ask me today how I got my start," he said, "and I have to tell them it was plain hard work. Nobody gave me any handouts, I just plugged along, hustling papers, ushering in the theatre and saving up my nickels and dimes." "When our family came to Calgary from Essex, England, in 1908," he recalled. "I was only nine years old, but even tlien I kept an eye out for odd jobs. My father was an engineer and hoped I would take up some similar career- I was a pretty good student, and graduated from the Calgary Prevocational and Technical Institute with 1st class honors in applied drafting and mathematics". For about 18 months I worked as draftsman with Burns and Company Packers and Exporters, but I wasn't really all that sold on my work. I gu.ess I had spent too many hours around theatres, doing one job and another. At any rate, when I was offered the job of managing the Kings Theatre in Lethbridge, I jumped at the chance. I was to be paid $50 a week; that was a nice little bundle in those days." Lethbridge, in the 20s had too many theatres for a town of its size. The Kings, which was situated on 5th Street South, was in competition with the more impressive Empress, which was right next door, the Colonial down the street and the Majestic wMch is now Purity Dairy. "The Kings wasn't a new theatre having been built in 1911," Mr. Shackleford recalled. "It was first called th.e Starland, then the Phoenix. I guess the owners thought by changing the name they'd improve their luck. It didn't work quite that way. The Kings by any name just barely kept its head above water for the first year or so I was its manager. If I hadn't stuck vnth westerns, which weren't too fashionable at the time, I guess we'd have been in real trouble, but the west-ems saved us. While other theatres were going under w.e were holding our own. We never lost money - but we didn't make much either." ? ? ? In 1922 young Alf Shackleford married Ada Crofts of Calgary and assumed the responsibilities of a married man-"The times were not easy anywhere in Canada," he said, "and the entertainment business always reflects the economic conditions of the coim-try. The owner of tlie Kings theatre became involved in a kind of family intrigue and I was jockeyed out of my position. We moved back to Calgary for a time where I travelled for a film company, but within a few months I was asked if I would return to Lethbridge to manage the arena. We took it on for a year and quite enjoyed the work. We made it pay too, even though it was long befoi'e tlie days of refrigeration. We had to sweep the water off the ice in between hockey games, but it was kind of fim; everybody liked the hockey in those days." But the lure of the theatre could not be turned aside. In 1925 with the assistance of a silent partner, Mr. Shackleford bought the lease of the Kings and went into the entertainment busuiess in earnest. "Eveiitually of course my partner and I decided to close the Kings and concentrate on bettei- class movies which were plentiful at the end of the decade. We bought the Palace, (the former Colonial), renovated it completely, changed the name to the Capitol, and by the end of 1929 had great crowds flocking to see talking pictures." ? ? ? In the ensuing years, during the "dirty thirties," Mr. Shackleford and his partner were to control the three major theatres in town. "The Lealta, on the north side of town was independently owned and did quite well for a number of yeai's before it closed," Mr. Shackleford said. "Perhaps it sounds as if we ran a theatre empire here in Lethbridge, but during the depression we had lots of headaches. Patrons didn't have much money for entertainment and we had more seats than we needed- We had to drop the prices to thirty-five cents, and sometimes even lower. Saturday afternoon of course was always the big matinee show for the kids, and they could s.ee about four hours of show for a nickel. We liked this part of the business - kids are such responsive audiences, cheering the good guy and booing the villain." The outcome of the Shackleford busuiess growth was the eventual development of Lethbridge.Theatres Ltd., and Lethbridge Amusement Co. Tlie latter opened a pavilion at Henderson Lake and dances were held to Mart Kenny and his band and other 'name' bands the company could attract. "This was a good idea for a time, especially during the twenties, before cars took people away weekends. And during the early part of the war, people would always turn out to dance to Mart Kenny, but it took some doing to get him here." Although the theatre business has been a major interest in his life, it was not his only one by a long shot, Mr, Shackl^ord advised. "I was always interested in the growth and development of the city, so that when I was approached to take a fling at politics in 1939, I decided what the heck, there were things I wanted to see done in town and I'd better get in there and see what I could do." That year, Mr. Shackleford was elected by acclamation to council for a two-year term. "We went slam-bang into tlie hectic times of war," he stated. "The city had been at a standstill during the depression and just when the economy was opening up a bit the government, as a war measure, restricted all work projects. There was very Uttle unnecessary building so the city didn't grow. However, we realized some economic expansion when the bombing and gunnery school opened, and then the government developed the prisoner of war camp on the edge of the city. It should be said too, that the Japanese who were brought here during the early part of the war really saved the sugar beet industry. We owe a great deal to these people." ? ? ? In 1944 Mr. Shackleford was elected mayor. "In those days the mayor was elected by council. I beUeve this to be a good system for the managerial type of government we have here. The mayor is somethuig like the chairman of a board of directors; if he isn't liked, they can get rid of him. The present system of elected mayor means that if he isn't popular, the council and city are stuck witli him for three years. However, I expect my ideas on this subject are old fashioned." Mayor Shackleford was to serve at one of the busiest and most progi-essive times in the city's history. "Veterans, including my own two sons, were coming home and we had to have jobs for them and some-wli.ere for them to live," he reminisced. "We build peacetime homes, wliich veterans could get for a minimal down payment. But" other services were badly needed. In the 50s the baby boom which follovred the war resulted in a shortage of school classrooms, crowded sports facilities, even crowds at the picture shows, which I per-sonaOy didn't object to, for we were gouig into the Paramount and the smaller cinemas and drive-ins by that time." In the years following his fu-st election to council Mr. Shackleford was to serve as alderman a total of 24 years including 10 yeaj-s as mayor at different intervals. "1 kept thinking I'd like to retire," he said, "but soraetliing would come along that interested me and my friends on the council would lu-ge me to reconsider, and I guess I was never really sorry I stayed with it so long. It was always interesting, especially during the war years when so many ethnic gi'oups brought the culture of their lands, stimulating what was here to a lesser degree. The building of tho Yates (^ntre, which is booked solid most of tlie time, has encoui'aged many hitherto dormant art forms, such as the various musical groups and little theatre." While mayor, Mr. Shackleford was involved m many community programs which worked for the development of the city. "Now if you list all the activities I've worked with it will sound too flattering," he objected, "and other people have done just as much. Although I can't pick out any particular favorites I had an interest in, I must mention I was pleased to assist in getting the Lethbridge and District Exhibition established as a first class fair. I served as president for a number of years. I also was one of the founders of the Gait Rehabilitation Centre, president of the Cancer Society, the Gyro Club and the Salvation Army Advisory Board." A look at Mr. Sliackleford's file indicates he has also sei-ved many other organizations in various capacities: president of the Alhsrta Theatre Association; president of Lethbridge Community Ohest; Past Master of York Lodge number 119; past director of V.O.N, and Blind Institute; honorary life member of Green Acres Kiwan-is; President of Lethbridge and District Japanese Garden Society; former People's Warden of St. Augustir;e's Anglicnn Church; secretary of St. Michael's Hospital Board and so on. How did he get the time to look after business, serve the dty, and keep track of all his organizational obligations? "It wasn't easy, and still isn't," Mr. Shackleford admitted freely. "But I have my two older sons in the business, and that has always been a help; someone to mind the store while Dad is away, sort of thing. Our third son is a petroleum engineer so didn't get bitten by the theatre bug. My vrife helps too, so with a family lendmg plenty of suppoi-t I've been able to keep my hand in on community matters." Mr. Shackleford likes to boast that for a brief time be was the world's best-known mayor. "I didn't run for this particular office, or popularity contest or whatever you like to call it, either," he grinned. "I got it by accident, and I'm not kidding. I was introducing the beauty queen at the Valentine Dance here when I took hold of the handle of tlie public ad-di-ess microphone, and' then grabbed the radio station mike too. Instantly an electric current went through my body and froze my hands to the mikes. Radio ajmouncer Joe McCallum and alderman Cliff Black tried to pry my hands loose while I was stammering, 'p-p-puU out the p-p-plugs.' Somebody had presence of nund to tm-n off the current and I let go. Orval Brunelle, the Herald photographer took my picture just as the current was roaring through my body, and this picture became world - famous, winning Brunelle the national newspaper award and $400 for the best spot news picture. I appeared in practically every paper on the continent, as well as overseas, and in magazines like Look and Life. It's a rotten way to gam fame I must say. I wasn't seriously hurt but I suppose I could have been." After such a busy life, is he looking forward to retuement? "Well, I don't know. It's pretty hard to slow down but my wife wants to do some travelling so I guess we wiU, from time to time. However, I expect rU always keep a finger in some of my former interests here. It's hard not to after so many years. Lethbridge has been good to us and it has been a privilege to be a part of this community and participate in so much of its rapid growth. I would like to think that during the 50 years we have served Lethbridge and district that our service has been one of integrity and high standards. I would be remiss if I neglected to say that my personal efforts would have been impossible had it not been for the assistance of my family, and my loyal secretary Miss Florence Crofts who has been my right hand for 45 years. Ours has been a family busuiess, and I hope my sons will carry on in the theatre tradition for a good many years to come." Alfred V/illiam Shackleford Phofo By Waiter Kerber Book Reviews Buckley's Skill With Words "The Governor Listelh: A Book of Inspired Political Revelations" by William F. Buckley, Jr. (Putnam, 447pp., $8.75, distributed by Longman's Canada Ltd.). TSY choosing a title from the King James Version of the Bible, William F. Buckley, Jr. hits his conservative stride from the outset. New translations are "a lot of semantical commotion." The old is nest even though words such as "hsteth" are described in The Oxford Dictionary as archaic. Realizing, no doubt, that the phrase from the letter - oops, that should be epistle - of James is likely to be unintelligible to modern readers, Buckley supplies a modem version: "whithersoever the governor listeth" means "wherever the pilot desires." Although Mr. Buckley says that he wants to be taken seriously - desiring to influence, along the hnes he listeth - one is tempted to tliink he must be putting his readers on at times. He has to be joking wlien he follows a modern ti-anslation of a New Testament lesson with the King James Version in brackets as if it demonstrated beyond cavil the barbarousness of the new. Could anything sound more clumsy to modern ears than "thou also wast with . . ." or "the cock crew?" The consei-vative case is weakened by this apparent notion that the old is good simply because it isn't new. Even the King James Version of the Bible was once new and despised as a barbarous innovation. There is something to be said for conservativism and William Buckley is capable of saying it - and saying it extremely well. He says that the responsibiUty of conservatives is "to defend what is best m America." Why the limiting qualification of "in America" is necessary is surely open to question. America is not necessarily tlie apogee of civilization. The negative cwi-notation of "defend" also seems unfortunate. Surely conservatism is not to be understood simply 35 a reflex to liberalism. Yet such a conclusion would be hard to escape m reading this book which is Books In Brief "More Glooscap Stories" by Kay HUI (McClelland and Stewart, 178pp., $4.95). EIGHTEEN more tales based on legends of the Wabanaki Indians of Canada's eastern woodlands are here made available to tliose who have enthusiastically acclaimed two previous collections. Magic and unlabored morals are the substance of tliese easily read stories - made more pleasant by big type and the illustrations of Jolm Ham-berger. mainly ridicule of all that Mr. Buckley despises. Much of the writing in these 126 pieces (published elsewhere between 1967 and 1970 with a couple of exceptions) is dazzling or devastating. His comment about Professor John Kenneth Galbraith is unforgettable: "he always gives the impression that he is on very temporary leave of absence from Olympus, where he holds classes on the maintenance of divine staudai-ds." William Buckley's reputation as a peerless debater is not enhanced by tlhe long (46 pages) review of his encounter with Gore Vidal during the presidential nominating conventions m 1968. The fact that Vidal shows up less admirably perhaps than Buckley is likely to provide little satisfaction to even the most ardent conservative. Putnam's editors should have talked Buckley out of reviving the memory of those "debates." Tliey would have been equally well advised not to have allowed theu* author to include his 22 page narrative of a sea voyage at the end of the book. It is impossible not to agree with William Buckley on some points. And it might be impossible to wm a debate with him on those with which one disagrees. He is so skilful witli words that only brave or foolish people would attempt to joust with liim. DOUG WALKER. Focus on the niversiry By J. W. FISHBOURNE Troubled Times For Education TF there is anything that is really cer-tain, besides tlie proverbial 'death and taxes', it is that the whole busuiess of education is in for some troubled times, durmg the 70s. On the surface it looks like lack of funds; the real problem is that the taxpayer is no longer satisfied with what he's geting for his money. His attitude isn't going to change, so sooner or later, education will have to. I hope it doesn't take too long. As always there will be a tendency to identify the most immediate pressure as the most important, so I expect to see our universities burning a lot of midnight oil over the dollar' situation in the next few months - and probably years. I suppose this is inevitable, but it does seem rather a shame that so much time and talent is going to be expended on cost-cuttmg, budget-juggling, and all the rest of it. It may seem important to some people, and perhaps a certain amount of it is even necessary. But I am afraid it is really a matter of bailing a leaky boat; while this keeps people occupied as the boat is sinking, it is more comforting than constructive. It doesn't patch the leaks. It is time people both inside and outside the universities, started facing the simple fact that the university operation we are familiar with is just about over. This should be perfectly clear to anyone who takes the trouble to look at the situation seriously. To those of you who haven't looked, perhaps it can be spelt out. Look at the dollar picture. According to a brief recently received by the Worth Commission, atwut 8 billion dollars is being spent on education in Canada this year; the same type of operation, projected ten years, will have a price tag closer to 40 billion. For Alberta alone, the current figure of about 700 million dollars would rise to somewhere between 1.5 and 2 billion. Whether we can afford or should afford this kind of money is really not the point; the fact is that we are not going to. Right now, in Alberta, the bill for education amounts to 14 per cent of the personal income of its residents. That's about as far as the taxpayer is likely to go, and the politicians know it. Of course, these figures cover the whole gamut of education not simply universities alone. But per-student cost at imiver-sity is dramatically high, when compared to other parts of the educational system, and even the cun-ent high enrolment represents only a small fraction of the population. So when the poUticians stop whittling and start usuig the axe, it will faU first and hardest on the universities. And it is a sample economic fact of life that if you cannot finance wbate^'er it is you're doing, you do something else - or go bankrupt. Because it would be inexpedient-politically and oUierwise - to allow the universities to go bankrupt, they are certain to survive. But the kind of mstitutions that wiU emerge from the lean years ahead is another question. It is just possible that the people inside the universities still have the choice as to who \\ill answer that question, themselves or forces outside the university. I wish I could be sure they will take advantage of what may be the last opportunity to decide their own future. They have lived in their own dream world for so long, content with the illusions created by then: own rhetoric, that they may find it hard to deal with a real and modem world. I hope they'll open their eyes - even if the sand smarts a little - and start shaping their institutions to meet modem needs and conditions - as universities. If tbey don't, the politicians will turn them uito what they want - glorified trade schools. ie Voice Of One -By DR. FRANK S. MORLEY The Conscience Of England �]V0 man more than Charles Dickens expressed the nineteenth century conscience of England and on this hundredth anniversary of his dteath it is irritating to read the numerous criticisms of Dickens as a man, a writer, and a social reformer. He did not possess and did not pretend to possess the gift of logical and artistic writing. Emerson and Thoreau once in conversation agreed that "wild" writing was the only worthwhile writing and they disliked the ptmy pundits with smooth, shallow scholarship. When Dickens worked too hard over his plot and prose, as m Bamaby Rudge or A Tale of Two Cities, be loses power and appeal. Possibly he is disliked by some because of his unhappy roarriage and unsatisfactory parenthood. Or perhaps because the Russians fill their shelves with his books to pillory twentieth century England for her nineteenth century sms. Others may dislike him because he was so critical of the church for her social failures and, as Quil-ler Couch says, Qickens had "little use for religious forms and religious mysteries." But Dickens did vmte a Life of Jesus for bis children, advised his son to observe morning and evening prayers as he did himself, and wrote in a preface to Pickwick Papers a warning against confusion between "religion and cant, piety and pretense," and said, "It is never out of season to protest against the familiarity with sacred things, or against that confounding of Christianity with any class of persons who have just enough religion to make them bate and not enough to make them love religion." So he wrote his son "I now most solemnly impress upon you the truth and beauty of the Christian religion as it came from Christ Himself and the impossibility of your going far wrong if you humbly but heartily respect it." So he denounced the "No Popery" riots and when he saw the torture chambers at Avignon be poured out language of fearful condemnation. Dostoievski called him "the greatest (Christian." His Christmas Carol has done more good than ten thousand sermons. His sympathy, the kmdness of his heart, his humor and pathos, make his cliaractars, caricatm-es though they often are, robustly alive. Somerset Maugham thought Falstaff the greatest comic character in literature and Micawber the very next to him. But Dickens could pass from Pickwick to Oliver Twist, from comedy to tragedy. The Old Ciu-iosity Shop came out in serial form and when Little Nell died prominent statesmen and businessmen wept openly. This was the novel, by the way that most profoundly influenced Dostoievski. It is impossible to believe that any man could read David Copperfield without his heart being twisted by that passionately personal document. Dickens liked to walk at night, and especially he hked to visit the scenes later to appear in his books. In New York be relates he was up half the night with two constables visiting "every abode of villainy" m town. In the day he visited prisons, hospitals, and social centres. James T. Fields tells of accompanying him in London on midnight walks mto the lodging-houses of the poor. In his novel he attacked greed, pride, cruelty, and other personal sins, but be also attacked the bmtal individualism with its social indifference of Malthus, Adam Smith, the Utilitarians, and Darwinian "survival of the fittest." He dedicated hdmself to "lighten the lot of those rejected ones whom the world has too long forgotten and too often misused." Writing out of. the misery and poverty of his childhood, with astonishing genius, he did more than any man of his time to ameliorate the social injustice and horrors of the industrial revolution. No writer more sympathetically portrayed the characters that lived in his time, entered into their aspu-ations, devotions and foibles. As Louis Cazamian states in his History of EngUsh Literature, Dickens lacked something in artistry, psychology, and realism (though some able men would argue strongly against him), but among English novelists he is probably the most national, the most typical, and the greatest of them all. Non-Smokers Make Progress From The Christian Science Monitor AT the recent National Conference o n Smoking and Health held in San Diego, these figures were given out: in the past four years, at least 10.2 million persons gave up smoking; and for the first time the numt>er of women smokers declined by 300,000. Women have been the most recent gvovdh target for tlie tobacco uidustry. ("You've come a long way, baby" - and all that). Students of the smoking problem say that women may have a different set of motives for keeping up the habit. Smoking may have become a symbol of emancipation they reason. And they hope that one of the gams of woman's liberation may be that such symbols "will be less important for lier image." In any event, men have done somewhat better in the non-smoking category to date: half of previous mala smokers who have tried givmg up the habit have done so, compared with a third among women. The art of getting off smokmg is stiU imprecise, to say the least. Recently, for example, a two-week "stop-smoking" cruise to the Caribbean was advertised in full-page ads. In the past few years 29 million Americans have stopped smoking. This remarkable fact alone should help dispel the mystique of smoking's so-called hold. But what is most needed is a clearer awareness that no real emancipation or relaxation can be gained from puffing something lighted at one end. Peace and free-dom up well wthin thouglit, and are spirit ually derived.