From the Sturgis Journal, 2006, by Terry Katz: “COLON – Alberta Hacker-Frost was 16 when she stepped inside Hill’s Opera House in Colon for the first time.
That was in the spring of 1934.
Now, it’s still difficult for her to picture what’s left of the Opera House that was destroyed by fire October 12, 2006.
She lives in Sturgis and hasn’t returned to Colon since the firs. She does plan to make a trip when she’s feeling better.
Thoughts of the fire stirred many memories. Hacker-Frost was a member of the Colon class of 1934 that held its commencement, baccalaureate service and senior class play on stage at the opera house.
As Hacker-Frost began to reminisce, she found the original high school programs and newspaper clippings from her class of 42 years ago.
She was the class salutatorian and on June 7, 1934, her class of 24 members was graduated.
The class valedictorian was Margaret Loudenslager, who maintained a four year average of 94.5 percent.
Commencement activities began on May 24 with the annual junior-senior banquet. The Reverend L. A. Townsend delivered the baccalaureate service on “The Highway of Life” Dean David Trout of Hillsdale College gave the commencement address. She recalled that part of the class night program June 6 was a review of the 1934 class history as narrated by Max Groth and Jack Damon. They were only two students who attended grades K-12 with the class. Many students started their education in Colon, but either moved or dropped out before graduation.
She joined the class from Foote School east of Leonidas. Other students came from Coldwater, Burr Oak, Matteson, Riverside, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Indiana.
The senior class play presented at Hill’s Opera House on May 11 was a four-act comedy drama of small town life called “Windy Willows.”
Members of the class of 1934 at Colon High School were: Dale Adams, Max Whitmore, Lewis Brandt, Rose Mary Cooper, Lyman Decker, John Eberhard, Max Goth, Donald Hobday, Majorie Loudenslager, Irene Rosenberry,
Richard Sager, LeRoy Whitford, John Ware, Spencer Bower, Gerald Brooks, Jack Damon, Hilda Decker, Mary Elezroth, Alberta Hacker, Herman Kessler, Margaret Loudenslager, Phil Rudd, Kathryn Sprowl and Helen Wood.
LeRoy Whitford and Marjorie Loudenslader were seen in the leading roles.
An old program shows that Max Auten carried the chief comedy role in the portrayal of the rustic constable and storekeeper.
The comedy featured Mrs. DePuyster, a city visitor whose love affair with the village constable furnished much merriment. Margaret Loudenslager played the role. Hilda Decker had the part of Carrie Tibbs, whose love for her brother brought out in this story of small town life.
Donald Hobday and Jack Damon played the village banker and his son. Herman Kessler portrayed Billy Fortuen, who does much to upset their plans.
Tickets were sold at several locations in Colon. General admission was 15 cents.
For Alberta Hacker-Frost, the loss of the Opera House felt like a death in the family.
“I felt sad about it,” she said, “I’m still here but today there’s not too many of us class members left.”
Hacker-Frost also remembers the dentist office located upstairs of the bank.
“That’s where I had my first tooth pulled!” she exclaimed.