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Chateau Theatre holds special place in my memories PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 30 July 2015 18:02

By Lori Pankonin


Wow! There’s just something about the Chateau Theatre in Wauneta that takes me into a special part of my past.

I took great interest when I saw in the Breeze a few weeks back that a ventriloquist show would be amongst new activities for Harvest Fest this year. Years ago I wrote numerous scripts for special occasions when our daughter, Celeste, put her ventriloquist talents to work. Austin, our grandson, found Charlie in the basement and brought him to life for a children’s story at church.

I immediately called our daughter, Brooke, to put in a request for taking our grandchildren. In the meantime, one of our granddaughters has begged for a play date with a friend so we added two more young enthusiastic young friends to our vehicle load.

The evening activities far outweighed my expectations.

It’s been 20 years since our family spent a good part of the summer of 1995 helping renovate the theatre. As we sat in the beautiful atmosphere prior to the show, memories flourished as my gaze shifted from the ceiling tiles to the pleated fabric walls to the comfy chairs.

Each has a story.

Our graphic artist was able to make stencils to replicate the original design on the ceiling tiles. I recall a picture of Celeste, age 6, painting the white background on the new ceiling tiles with a neighbor boy. Fortunately those could be painted at ground level before they were installed.

Although the original design was reproduced on those panels, brighter colors replaced the brown shades. Oh so many people were involved and various faces come to mind.

Russ spent night after night on scaffolding with other volunteers and I was in awe how they stapled fabric in pleats to create a beautiful look that looks extravagant yet today.

Old theater seats were removed, some in pretty tattered shape but some carrying some impressive antique value. Did they all need replaced? Well Gene Harchelroad decided they did. He walked in the Breeze office, said he was buying 10 seats and challenged us to do the same. A campaign began and folks gave seats in memory and in honor of loved ones. It didn’t take long until enough brand new seats were ordered to meet the capacity crowd.

Individual talents and hard work were once again combined to make a difference. That theatre has welcomed crowds for current-release movies as well as live entertainment over the decades.

Following the show, we took another drive down memory lane, showing our grandkids where we lived when we brought their mommy home from the hospital, where she went to elementary school, where she played softball, where she learned to swim.

We experienced the fabulous park playground which was a hot spot in town. The Harvest Fest night swimming crowd ventured that direction during breaks.

Austin, our grandson, just happened to have swimming trunks on under his clothes and loved the reality of a first-time experience off a high diving board. I caught a glimpse of the walking path that circles the park, something new since we moved from Wauneta. I would love quick access to such a path.

We joined friends on their welcoming back porch where neighbors often gather once the tiki torch is lit to signify, “Come on over.” What value in taking time to relax and connect! Hospitality at its finest!

Wow! We returned home with a vehicle filled with a tired crew who played hard. My heart was warm, filled with wonderful new memories to add to those of 20 years ago.

LORI PANKONIN is co-publisher of Johnson Publications newspapers in Imperial, Wauneta and Grant, and part-owner of the Holyoke Enterprise in Holyoke, Colo. E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it