Agnes Berther on Chautauqua

Agnes Berther

"They were speaking of the Chautauqua out at Lake Madison for many years. And the children... with all the summer's heat to be able to go out there. And the place where it was held was called "the pit" (auditorium) and it was really very unusual. It was really a large hole in the ground. Slanting down to the stage there were 5 or 6 isles all the way around and they were covered with mud... especially after a storm or rain and that was always one of the highlights. We could always go out if it had rained and they put it down, we could start at the top and of course slip all the way down, which was most fun for all the kids that did it. And we did it many, many times. The storms, they were really fortunate most of the time, we didn't encounter too many. Although on the way back one time I remember, we had to stop the car. But they were never severe enough to stop any of the programs that I can vaguely remember that I went to as a child. And it was there that I saw with my sister, our first movie, which made such an impression on us. And I think it was called "The Storm", with the two Gish Sisters. And there were many, many programs, I don't think they revolved around children as much as they did the grown ups, but of course the children were always taken too. We had many, many happy times of meeting all our friends. And it was really a place that should have been preserved, but never was."

The movie she was referring to was Orphans of the Storm with Lillian and Dorothy Gish.

Poster of Orphans of the Storm