Memories of Camp Cody Weblog

October 29, 2018

Letter From Danuel Sholes – Part 1 of 2

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Tags: — Michael Kromeke @ 5:30 pm

Dear Father and Mother

I thought I would drop you a few lines about my trip to New Mexico. We left Norfolk the 14th at six pm. I was a little homesick before we left there that morning, but after we got started I cheered up and felt better, we arrived in Omaha about 11 o’clock pm. we over took the Chadron Co., there and the two trains were put together, I won’t say much about Omaha for we didn’t get to see much of it, we wasn’t allowed to leave the train. We left there at 2:00 o’clock am. and our next stop was Falls City, Nebraska there was a Company waiting there but it belonged to the Fifth Nebraska, it had to wait for the next division which was behind us, at night the train was guarded, my turn come from 9 until 11 so I got to see Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and also Kansas City, it is the prettiest City I saw on my trip. On the 15th we went through the oil fields of Kansas, you could look in any direction and all you could see was oil fields. The towns were fairly good size but they were all new houses sprung up since the discovery of oil. The crops were about the same in Kansas as they were in Nebraska, but as we crossed the line into Oklahoma you could see a change the corn fields commenced to disappear and what there was didn’t amount to much, it seemed to be mostly small grain raised there. We stopped at Waynoka, Oklahoma, they let us off to get the train.

We stopped at Waynoka, Oklahoma, they let up off to get the kinks out of our legs. Was there about two hours and left just before dark. The next country we come to, I think the marker had a spite at, for all you could see was sand hills and then some more sand hills, they wasn’t like the sand hills of Nebraska, No, Sir! There was not one thing growing on them just pure white sand. I was disgusted and went to bed. When I got up in the morning things looked different, we were in Texas, the first thing that met our eyes was a bunch of cow boys out on a round up, this country was as level as a floor you can see for miles any direction and not a hill or a tree in sight, just cattle and once in a while a ranch. It looked as though there was enough beef to feed Uncle Sam’s armies long enough to whip the Germans.

Our next stop was at Clovis, New Mexico, just over the line from Texas, the train got stuck on a grade about a mile from town, they unloaded us and marched to town. Believe me it seemed good to get straightened out once more. – Daniel Sholes – September 20, 1917

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Daniel Sholes on the right – Letter and Photo Donated by Sandy Dempsey

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October 20, 2018

The Cody Theatre: Deming’s Playhouse Beautiful – Part 3 of 3

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Tags: — Michael Kromeke @ 9:37 pm

By C. A. Gustafson

The intense garage flames, aided by a west wind, carried across the narrow alley to the rear of the Cody theater. The Deming Fire Department made a valiant effort to save the show place but soon gave this up in order to contain the fire to one block. Camp Cody sent their fire truck to assist. Private Frank Munier was overcome by the heat and was taken to the army hospital. After about two hours the fire was under control and it was almost completely out by 4 pm.

The shops in the theater building on Pine Street were not badly damaged due to the brick wall of the movie house. The fire was still burning when Scoot’s Sign Shop placed a notice over its door. “Open for Business.” On Copper street north of Pine, Mrs. DeLauny’s Dining Room and the Russel dwelling, used as a rooming house, were severely gutted. The Deming Public Library, on the northeast corner of Copper and Pine, was only slightly singed due to a 50 foot open space to the east and favorable winds. The library’s 3,500 books were unharmed.

Not so fortunate was Sam Watkins, whose car agency lost twelve new Buick and Dodge cars. Watkins estimated his lost at $25,000 over insurance. The total damage for the fire was thought to be over $100,000. The diligent work of firefighters from Deming and Camp Cody prevented the conflagration from spreading to the Foxworth-Galbraith lumber yard on North Gold. A grateful H. G. Bush later presented the Deming Fire Department with a check for $100 and a similar about to Camp Cody athletic fund.

Manager Sol Carragien estimated the loss of the Cody Theater amounted to between $15,000 and $20,000. He said his insurance was only $2,000. The fire insurance companies regarded the affected block as a hazardous risk and the consequent high premiums discouraged many in the area from carrying adequate coverage.

After the fire, Carragien said he planned to rebuild at once. “We will be operating again in forty days,” he stated. That optimistic prediction never materialized. Possibly there were financial problems, or the fact that the war was winding down made the rebuilding impractical.

The Cody Theater was said to be the finest in New Mexico and one of the most outstanding in the southwest. Like a celestial comet, the “Playhouse Beautiful” flashed acrossed the entertainment skies of Deming for 208 nights (plus matinees), only to be terminated by a premature fiery final. – Desert Winds Magazine – July 1990

BuildingCampCody

October 14, 2018

The cody Theatre: Deming’s Playhouse Beautiful – Part 2 of 3

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Tags: — Michael Kromeke @ 4:02 am

By C. A. Gustafson

A series of stage attractions followed, including Princess Lani and her Hawaiian troop with a real hula-hula dance. In February 1918, a young English comedian by the name of Stan Laurel appeared with his partner, May Laurel. The vaudeville queen Eva Tangua made her screen debut in “The Wild Girl” in February also. The war influence was felt in such film presentations as “Over The Top” and “The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin” in June, 1918. Admission prices varied from as low as 10 cents to as high as $1.50, depending on the nature of the presentation. Generally the price ranged around a half dollar. Carragien claimed to have paid as high as $2,500 for one of the initial stage presentation.

It was evident that in mid-1918 the Cody Theater was gradually shifting the major part of its entertainment to motion pictures. A new organ, costing between $6,000 and $7,000 was installed, this constituting the audio accompaniment to the silent pictures.

The silent motion picture era was one of the most fascinating and revolutionary in entertainment history. It was the supreme illusion. Actually, moving picture is a misnomer. The pictures did not move and only appeared to do so. The illusion of movement is achieved by sliding a succession of still pictures before a lens in rapid fashion with a black insertion between each frame. Due to persistence of vision, whereby the eye retina retains an image for a fraction of a second, the effect is that the picture “moves.” Film has been described as “stillness in motion.”

Thomas Edison held his first public performance of the new film projections in 1896 in a New York music hall. Gradually the Nickelodeons made their appearance in old storerooms, vacant halls, and various enclosures that could simulate a theater. The pictures were usually one-reelers and lasted about 10 minutes. The Nickelodeons gradually gave way to theaters that were built specifically to present movies. The one-reelers expanded to two and then to a half dozen and more. The first movie palaces began to appear about 1914.

The movie patron could check his/her cares and worries at the box office and pass through magic portals into another world, one that exuded mystery, romance and adventure. Seated comfortably in a darkened auditorium, the move goer focused attention on that rectangular image at the front of the theater, the silver screen. This was like a huge magic carpet, albeit vertical, that carried the viewers to the exotic corners of the earth.

The magic world of fantasy, and reality, came to an abrupt end for Cody Theater patrons on the afternoon of July 11, 1918. About 1 pm., a fire broke out in the Deming Garage on Pine street, west of the theater. The garage was owned by Roy Baker. There were a couple versions as to the origin of the fire. Baker claimed a worker threw a cigarette on some oil-soaked waste. Pete Measday had an older brother who was employed at the garage that summer. Cyril Measday, now deceased, related to Pete that gasoline had been used to clean the repair shop, creating a volatile atmosphere for a flame or spark. The wooden floors were oil-soaked from the cars that frequently leaked. There is the possibility that a car was driven into the garage enclosure, rife with gas vapors, and a flash fire resulted. Baker was severely burned about the head. His foreman, Walter Dusire, required hospital treatment for burns. – Desert Winds Magazine – July 1990

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October 7, 2018

The cody Theatre: Deming’s Playhouse Beautiful – Part 1 of 3

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Tags: — Michael Kromeke @ 2:34 pm

By C. A. Gustafson

Deming has been the site of numerous architectural landmark in its 109 years. May are only memories and some still grace the local landscape. One of the notable missing and shortest in duration, was the Cody Theatre over 70 years ago.

The year 1917 was an eventful one for the nation and the Village of Deming. The United States declared war on Germany on April 6 and the first Americans troops landed in France three months later. A site north west of Deming was approved in July for the location of Camp Cody, one of 32 to be established across the country. Construction of the cantonment was begun immediately and employed around 3000 workers to complete the basic building before the year end.

In Deming, records showed that permits for permanent buildings were in excess of $200,000 the latter part of the year. The Cody Amusement Company, organized by local people, leased three lots on the northwest corner of Gold and Pine from the Deming National Bank. Plans were revealed for the immediate erection of a $25,000 theater. Ground was broken on October 22 by Jolly and Morris, the El Paso contractors who had just completed the Teal Theater the previous month. This plush palace of entertainment was to be named the Cody Theater. (The spelling “theatre” derived from Middle English, was commonly used with playhouses in the era of this story. However, the Americanized version “theater” will be utilized in this article.)

The Cody was built of brick and cement. The front faced Gold Avenue and consisted of a round arch facade that architecturally simulated the triumphal arches in Paris and Rome. It height was 30 feet and extended 75 feet north on Gold. There were a half dozen 10-foot shops on this south side.

The auditorium measured 60×100 feet with the seats facing west and pitched to permit a clear view of the stage from any one of the 1000 capacity. The lighting was indirect and a vacuum system insured clean air. The stage in the west end had a 24-foot opening and ran 75 feet from wall to wall. The projection booth above the balcony on the east end housed two number 6B Power machines for the film shows.

While construction of the Cody Theater was underway, the Princess movie house featured D. W. Griffith’s extravaganza, “The Birth of a Nation.” This picture had opened in New York in 1915 and would gross $18,000,000 by 1939. It was the first movie to be screened at the White House for President Wilson. On November 2, there was a mild public reaction when the postal department raised first class mail a penny to 3 cents an ounce.

In December, the Cody Theater, aptly termed “The Playhouse Beautiful,” was completed and ready to open for business. An original intent to premiere on December 14 was abandoned because of the Friday superstition. The following day, Manager Sol Carragien opened the Cody with the presentation of the Audra Alden Company in “17 Past” on the stage. This play enjoyed successful runs in New York and San Diego before coming to Deming. The screen attraction was “Camille” in five reels. Admission for this initial attraction was 35 cents. Both Saturday and Sunday performances were sellouts and many people were turned away. – Desert Winds Magazine – July 1990

USAmmunitionWagonInDemingNM

U.S. Ammunition Wagon In Deming, New Mexico

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