By Lillian Chappell Brode
The Odin Dramatic Club got its start in late summer of 1906, when a theatrical couple, whose Company was stranded in Salem, contacted Mr. H. W. (Harley) Jackson, who held an office in Redmen Lodge.
Under the auspices of the Redmen, we put on our first drama, "Roanoke," in the Smith Opera House. Seats were hard chairs, and in the back rows, boards were placed on kegs. Footlights were kerosene lamps. Lamps also furnished lighting for the "hall." Scenery was designed and painted by the players. Music, a piano. Later we had our own band and orchestra. Wardrobe and props we borrowed from the town folks, who were our loyal fans through the years. They came in all kinds of weather to applaud the hero, hiss the villain, cried when the scenes were tragic, and laughed at the comedy. If we helped them to forget the cares of the day and brought some happiness into their lives, then we are indeed grateful.
When the Smith building was condemned, we moved to the Redmen Hall. About that time a new building was being erected by a local businessman, Mr. John F. Sugg, who told us the second floor would be a theatre especially for the Odin Drama Club. I would like to pay tribute to Mr. John Sugg, who did so much for our town. The theatre has long been abandoned, but within its walls many memories linger.
Our cast changed from time to time. Here are familiar names, I’m sure. Robert Vaughan, Mrs. Henry Hurd, H. W. Jackson, Myrtle Hawley, Ruby Norris, Louis Lowdermilk, Marie Tate, French Harvey, Ida Minton, Joe Lusch, Della Norris, Ruby Jackson, Olive Free, Frank Lusch, Gene Erode, Lynn Harris, Roy Andrews, Hike Nicholson, Jessie Chappell, Hal McClelland, Cleveland Rippy and many others. Our director, W. G. Brode.
After World War 1, we gave a benefit performance for American Legion which netted near $300.00. We played other towns, including Salem, Sandoval, Patoka, Glenridge, Carlyle, Beckemeyer and Kinmundy, traveling by train and horse-and-buggy. Among other memories, this one I remember so well. Driving home from a performance in Sandoval on a dark, misty night, Mr. Jackson quoted these lines:
"I see the lights of the city
Shining through the rain and mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me
That my soul cannot resist."
Then he said, "There is no place like home, is there?"
So, on this, your 100th birthday, The Drama Club of long ago, salute you, Odin and your citizens, past and present. The certain descends on an episode in a play that could well be called "Our Town, Odin."