The town of Comanche, Texas has never been a terribly sophisticated town, never held a lot of sophisticated culture, and yet, there are bits and pieces of her history that will every now and then sneak upon people and even amaze them a bit before receding back into the shadows of a small, sometimes rough, country town that for decades could not get itself off of the frontier.
The old opera house that was once located on the north end of the east side of the square is one of those pieces, simply because it was such a marvelous auditorium for its day.*
Many were the traveling companies and speakers that made an appearance on the old stage in those days before television entered all of our homes, one of the most famous being Carry Nation who came to Comanche to speak on the evil of drink. I would imagine that in a town starved for entertainment, almost any speaker or show drew a tremendous crowd of all who could afford to attend.
I can’t really tell you how to match names with faces in the photo above. They are local Comanche people, however, so I’m hoping that some of you will find someone you can recognize. If so, please comment in one of the comment boxes below. We’d love to get these exactly right! As they are, I can’t even tell you that all are spelled correctly; however, I have done the best I can with what I have been told.
Back Row: Mollie Godbold, Bill Saye, Inez Gage
2nd Row: Isla Wyatt, Gaston Weisendanger, Ellen Moore, Cyril Greene, Maude Robertson, Myrtle Paine, Bob Moore, Gib Calloway, John Atterberry, Coralie Greene
3rd Row: _____ Gage, Brooks Carnes, Amanda Gage, Chester Riley, _____ Hicks, Mattie Eanes, Nannie Greene, ______ Proctor, ______ Tate, Tom Gaston, W.J. Cunningham, Clara Moore, Tom Knox, _____ Gage, Guy Saye
4th Row: _____ Huddleston, Merlin Jenkins, Don (?) Knox, Angie Slack, Minnie Slack, Ruth Slack, Stella Hicks, Lottie Paine, Meddie Rhodes.
Unfortunately, on August 14, 1912, as had happened so many times before to other buildings on the Comanche Square, smoke began to roll out from opera house windows and doors. On first glance at the outside of the building, one has to wonder how such a structure could be demolished by fire. However, as can be seen in the photos as well as by knowledge of those beautiful old theaters, the wood used inside the opera house was plentiful.
In spite of the efforts of the Comanche Fire Department, by the end of the day, all was lost and an end of an era had come to Comanche, Texas.
So now you know…..*Having scoured every possible source, I finally remembered that it was Kathleen Greene Marshall who gave me copies of photos along with the names I have listed. Suddenly, I knew in which file to look!