89°F
weather icon Clear

Chautauqua brought historic figures to life

Boulder City Chautauqua. I know you know the name, but have you ever experienced it? In early September, the Boulder City Review alerted me that Chautauqua would be back on Sept. 15 at Desi Arnaz Jr.’s historic Boulder Theatre. I had been hearing about this program for years but never quite got out of my easy chair to take the big step. But this one caught my eye because one of the two shows was on Theodore Roosevelt, my favorite U.S. president. And also because Amy was hosting a sorority event at our house that night so I wanted to go somewhere else.

Tickets were $15 in advance, but I failed to think ahead and ended up in the line to buy one at the theater. Luckily, they did have one left, and that line was much shorter than the one for ticket holders so I ended up on the aisle in row three.

Standing near me was UNLV’s Michael Green, an acquaintance of mine who is a familiar face on TV and history book shelves. As moderator, Green introduced Charlie Shaffer up at the piano. Shaffer has had an amazing musical career with symphony, TV shows and a long residency at the Desert Inn. He entertained us wonderfully until a man named Doug Mishler strolled out dressed like an outdoorsman from the turn of the previous century.

Mishler teaches history at the University of Nevada, Reno, but has been nationally recognized for a quarter of a century for his Chautauqua portrayals of historical men.

He has schooled up on a couple dozen figures, such as Stonewall Jackson, Henry Ford and P.T. Barnum. He quickly launched right into role playing Roosevelt in a voice that must have sounded much like the Mount Rushmore man. He held us spellbound, as they say, for much of an hour relating the highlights of his life and I learned a lot.

Then, he surprised me by opening up the entire theater to a question-and-answer period, and his answers demonstrated an amazingly encyclopedic knowledge. Some in the audience showed their own knowledge by asking detailed questions about obscure banking or political situations of the day, and he always knew exactly what they meant and launched into savvy explanations of “his” position on that.

When I was handed the microphone, with malice aforethought, I addressed him as “Teddy,” which triggered the expected angry retort. He did not like the short name that was highjacked by the public and used on stuffed bears.

We learned the reason President Roosevelt never liked to be called Teddy. His beloved first wife Alice had always called him Teedie and, after she died, it was just too painful to hear anyone else but their daughter Alice call him that.

The origin of Chautauqua is dated to a Methodist minister who organized a public religious show on the shores of Lake Chautauqua in New York. This launched a growing adult education movement that was very popular nationally into the 1920s. Most were set up in rural areas near the train line from a big town, and many used tents to house the audience. Political rallies with men such as William Jennings Bryan became all the rage.

Locally, the Chautauqua method was introduced by Clay Jenkinson about 25 years ago and Ihla Crowley was the original chairman of the Boulder City program. The first years were hosted in a tent but the program moved into the Boulder Theater in 2003.

Watch the Boulder City Review for details of the 2019 event. I’m told the amazing Mishler will star again. See ya there.

Dave Nelson retired to Boulder City in 2003 after a career with the FICO score company. He is vice president and newsletter editor for the local Sons of Norway.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Smart development key to sustainable future

I commend my friend and colleague Mayor (Kiernan) McManus for his comments in the Boulder City Review on Sept. 1 regarding his focus on conservation to best serve the residents of Boulder City. Together, our cities have a long-standing commitment to conservation and sustainability.

Solutions to nation’s woes just take action

What if you had solutions to a multitude of problems? Would you share what you knew or would you hesitate because the facts were contrary to the status quo?

Terrorists killed more than people

Sept. 11 changed us. And not necessarily for the better.

Dont let city become ‘Pothole Paradise’

Two years ago at a public event, a friend got in my face and in an uncharacteristic, agitated voice said, “Fix my street!” Initially I thought he was joking. But after two attempts to change the subject, I realized he wasn’t laughing.

Court of public opinion too quick to judge

Most people know me for my former Throwback Thursday columns with the Boulder City Review and some people may know of me from my failed run for City Council. What people don’t know, however, is that I used to work for actor Johnny Depp through a contract I had running events at multiple properties on the Las Vegas Strip. I was Mr. Depp’s private dining planner for all of his Las Vegas trips, including events with his family.

Relax, it’s Labor Day

Monday is Labor Day, and it’s somewhat ironic that a day devoted to celebrating the American workforce is a day that most of us strive to do anything but work.

Options for conservation must be explored

Fall weather will be a welcome change in the next few weeks, it has been a hot summer. Some of the hottest temperatures on record for Southern Nevada. And most of those records have been over the past few years. We can look at the changes in water levels at Lake Mead and know that things are very different from any other time in our lifetimes.

Agostini, Eagles Closet help those in need

Since the new school year began at the beginning of the month, students and staff members at Boulder City High School have made a variety of changes to help ensure their health and welfare in the wake of COVID-19.

Water’s low cost makes it expendable

Water is essential to life. Humans and every living species can go without many things but not without water; yet many take water for granted. We water our lawns, fill our swimming pools, wash our cars, take long showers, hose down our driveways and rarely even think about the costs involved. Why? Because water is too convenient and, most importantly, inexpensive.

City long devoted to conservation, environmental issues

The water level at Lake Mead fell to 1,068 feet in July 2021. That is the lowest level since the lake was first filled following the Hoover Dam’s dedication in 1935. This month, the federal government has declared a water shortage on the Colorado River for the first time, triggering cutbacks in water allocations to surrounding states from the river.