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August 31, 2004

Memories of the Worthan players

Here's a wee bit more to wind up the collection of Worthan family anecdotes, inspired by the public auction of the old Masonic building where the Worthans and others entertained generations of Perry area residents for many years.

Our friend Elizabeth Willems is part of a pioneer Perry family. She remembers participating in school plays when she was a student in PHS in the 1930s. She was a friend of Quine Brengle Jr., partly because they both were born on Halloween day and partly because they graduated from PHS the same year. Quine Jr. was a little younger than Elizabeth but he was double promoted and they became part of the same graduating class as a result.

They also shared a love of the theater, Elizabeth says. As you know, if you've been reading this series of columns, Quine Jr. married Bonnie Worthan, daughter of Charlie and Sadie Worthan, who brought the Worthan Players to Perry each year for a series of theatrical performances in the Masonic Auditorium.

Elizabeth recalls that Quine Jr. liked all aspects of the theater, but especially he liked to be business manager or stage manager or any of the other non-performing aspects of stage productions. He and Elizabeth were in class plays quite often. After one such performance, they borrowed a ladder and wrote the names of their fellow cast members on a high wall in the old PHS auditorium. That building has been demolished and carted off, but Elizabeth remembers it well.

Quine enjoyed everything about the theater and he was happy to become a part of the Worthan players. As I wrote earlier, Mr. and Mrs. Worthan came back to Perry to make their home after they retired following World War II. That brings us to the second bit of memorabilia.

Don Stoddard writes: "I remember that an elderly gentleman named Charlie Worthan was the night man at the old Texaco station that once was on the corner across east of the YMCA. I recall this incident happening to Charlie one night. I was working days at the Texaco station for John Gillaspy when this happened. Charlie must have been a tough guy despite his age. Because an hombre came in one night, pulled a gun on Charlie and demanded money. Charlie went for him, gun and all. The rest of what happened is a little sketchy now, but I think Charlie was shot in the finger of one hand. This was in the early 1950s."

I think Don is writing about the same Charlie Worthan who became fairgrounds custodian and spent the remaining years of his life in Perry. Memories are great, and the old Masonic Auditorium gave us an abundant share of them.