Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

September 11, 1996, Page 36

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Good Old Days    


By Dee Zimmerman


The Neillsville Press

September 1896


Withee School opens Sept. 7 under the old corps of teachers: F. H. Barber, Principal; Mrs. L. Moody and Mrs. F. H. Barber assistants.  Our school grounds have been improved by new fences, walks and a woodshed.


Miles Youman of Douglas has purchased a farm in section 25 in Columbia from the Graves Land Co.  He thinks it will be a short time before it is taken by farmers.   Aug. Ketel recently went to Columbia from Neillsville, while he gave an estimate on plastering and decorating Gus Schlender’s residence.


The action taken by Neillsville barbers in closing their businesses on Sundays is being copied quite generally through out the state. 


There will be a festival at the Visgar Church next Tuesday evening for the benefit of Rev. G. M. Foster.


New potatoes are being marketed at 10 to 13 cents per bushel.  The yield is from 25 to 75 bushels an acre.


The Fats and Leans played baseball at the diamond inside the race track at the Fairground last Sunday, the Fats winning by a score of 23 to 22.  Both sides were made up of Neillsville heavy and lightweights and they put up a sky-high game.  Don’t miss the baseball game at the fairgrounds during the Clark County Fair.  A large string of trotting and running horses from other localities are scheduled to be in the county fair races. 


Last Sunday, C. Krumrey’s brindle dog ran in front of his bicycle while was scorching around the Fair Ground track, causing a collision which resulted in a broken bike and a bad fall for Krum, who lay still for some time unable to recover his breath.  The crowd at the ball ground was much shocked by the accident and for a few moments the worst was feared, but he was assisted up and soon recovered himself so as to proceed on his way, but not aboard the bike.


A party of six hunters went out to Washburn Sunday and killed some sixty grouse.  M. C. Ring shot twenty-one grouse, single handed, in Levis, Saturday afternoon and Sunday forenoon.  It is reported that there are large and inaccessible breeding grounds in the southeastern part of the county, which will in all probability keep Southern Clark County full of grouse for some time to come.


November 10, 1921


“Trags Theater,” Neillsville’s new $35,000 motion picture house, opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. with Mary Pickford in “Through the Back Door,” this is next to the last Pickford release and is one of the very last every produced by this great artist.  This picture is shown here at a great expense and will therefore be given four showings, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and a Sunday Afternoon matinee at 2:30.


Trags Theater is the culmination of months of planning and hard work on the part of a home boy, William E. Tragsdorf.  It is situated on the site of the old Tourigny warehouse just north of Powers and Wing Hardware store.  The building is 30 feet wide and 126 feet deep, with an arcade on Sixth Street.  The main entrance is on Hewett Street and the front of the house is two stories and built of a red ornamental brick.  The show house is absolutely fire proof throughout, the floor being of concrete and the projection room, well lined.  The lobby on Hewett Street will contain a glass enamel box office, French doors in front and two large gilt poster frames.  Unfortunately, a delay has made it impossible to complete the lobby by the opening show, but this work will be done in a few days.  The main entrance is on Hewett Street and the exit through the arcade on Sixth Street, so that there will be no confusion or jamming in handling the crowds.  Patrons will leave the theater through the arcade, which will later be fitted up with a confectionery and cigar store.


The seating capacity of the house is 402 seats on the main floor and two loggias with ten wicker chairs in each.  The two loggias will be reserved for box parties and reservations may be made in advance by telephone for any coming performance.  Every door of the theater is equipped with fire bolts which open at a touch.  On the second floor of the theater 3will be found restrooms for ladies and gentlemen and Mr. Tragsdorfs office will also be there.  The ceiling of the auditorium will be thirty feet in height and will give this room splendid lighting and ventilating opportunities.


There are six ornamental lights on each side wall and four indirect lighting bowls in the ceiling.  Two Torrid Zone furnaces will furnish the heat which will come up from the basement over the stage and circulate over the ceiling and down to the floor and be drawn by suction through the orchestra pit and out of the building, so that the air is changing constantly.  The ventilation will be assisted by ten large fans.  One large six foot fan will force the heat and ventilating through the ventilator in the orchestra pit.


The main floor of the house will seat 402 persons.  The concrete floor slopes to the front and is easily cleaned from back to the front.


There will be two of the latest types Simplex motion picture machines, motor driven and they will use the latest type Mazada lighting.  One of the pleasing additions will be music.  This will be furnished by an American Fotoplayer Piano, with pipe organ effects.  The piano is controlled by the machine operator, who controls the music for scenes in an appropriate manner.  A special screen will be used fort he pictures.  The stage is large enough for vaudeville with a dressing room at one side.  The scenery was painted by Universal Scenic of St. Paul and the drop curtain has a scene of the bridge from Old Panama and was painted from a photo taken by Will Tragsdorf while he was located in Panama.


All of the construction work of the new theater is by local workmen.  The architects are Balch & Lippert of Madison, former Neillsville boys.  The masonry was by Van Wagner, Owens & Van Wagner, the heating and ventilating by P. M. Warlum, the decorating by Jack Schueing, the carpeting by Otto Roessler.


The new Trag’s Theater is indeed a Showplace in Theaters.


Originally, the theater lot had been the site for a hardware business which started in 1879 and was owned by Denis Tourigny.  After 40 years in business, Tourigny sold out in 1919.  He did a tremendous amount of business as he had a large warehouse on north Hewett Street, the lot on the corner of 10th, west side, to hold additional wares.


Tragsdorf owned and managed the theater business in its beginning.  Darrell Gotschlin managed it for a few years, resigning in 1934.


Probably the most memorable Neillsville theater manager, through the years, would have been Wilmer G. Meier who came here from Waupaca to accept the managerial position and remained until this theater’s closing.  Bill, as he was known, took his job seriously.  He kept the business in good order and when one of the many marquee lights went out, it was immediately replaced so as not to take away from its attractive display.


Now, after 75 years and deterioration of the theater building, plans are that it will soon be razed.  As the building goes down, many will remember having attended movies there in the past, such as….meeting that “Someone special” at a Saturday night movie; a memorable “date” with a certain person which included seeing a movie together; the free holiday movies, when as a kid, everyone in the neighborhood was there; watching a scary feature that sent you running top speed down Hewett Street, then a turn onto a side street in the dark, running of breath just as you reached the front porch of home.


However, the building will go down – but our memories can remain with us, memories to be shared amongst family and friends in years to come.


We take issue even with perfection. – Pascal




Trag’s theater was built in 1921, opening November 10 of that year, time of the silent movies.  An early 40’s movie was advertised on its once attractive marquee, “Salute to the Marines,” starring W. Berry.  It was a time of purchasing war bonds to help the war effort.


Do you remember seeing the Movie, “The Yearling” when it was first released?  It was an ideal feature to be shown, as the annual Free Christmas Season Show sponsored by the Neillsville Bank.  The 1957 Chevy parked in front indicates the year when many area residents attended that movie.



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