The Hawthorne Theatre

by Bill Newman

The Hawthorne, as it was known, ran an "Amateur Night" on certain Friday nights during the year. As I remember, there were prizes to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd, place contestants. The first place winner could expect a cash prize of $5, the second place winner might get $2, and the one that placed third got a free pass to the movies.

There were usually ten contestants a night but five of the ten were repeaters. They would enter each contest until they won or the manager told them not to come back.

Most of the entrants sang, a few more played a musical instrument and the balance tap danced or did miscellaneous things.

Some of the performers had talent but the contest was really a popularity contest. A pretty female singer could usually plan on being a winner. If a violinist played "The Flight of the Bumblebee" while standing on his head he didn't have a chance. Anyone that read poetry risked bodily harm. Two of the performers that never won became successful professionals. One played the trombone and one played a harmonica, they were both male, short and fat certainly not amateur night winners.

The last Amateur Night of the season the first place winners competed. Each entrant had their family and friends in the audience to lead the applause. Winners were decided by who got the most applause as determined by the theater manager.

I think the manager started his vacation immediately just before the winners were announced - - if he was able to get out of the theater alive. Talk about risky jobs --WOW.


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