Liberty County History

An occasional gathering place for articles, documents, photographs, records and other ephemera dealing with the history of Liberty County, Texas.


Kevin Ladd is director of the Wallisville Heritage Park at Wallisville, Chambers County, TX and lives in Hardin, TX. He is chairman of the Liberty County Historical Commission and writes for "Texas Illustrated," a monthly publication of the Liberty Gazette newspaper, which is devoted to local history and folklore.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Organizing "The Valley Players" (1953)

The Liberty Vindicator
Thursday, October 1, 1953

Theater Group to Organize

Thirteen is expected to be a lucky number by persons interested in organizing a Little Theater in Liberty County, and it's hoped by instigators of the movement that twice that many persons will attend official organizational meeting next Tuesday night.

John Gordon, the man from Carthage who would like to see a Little Theater in Liberty, and who knows how to go about getting one here, received encouragement last Monday night when 13 county residents came to discuss the possibilities.

Outcome: They were interested, and they’re going to organize officially next Tuesday. Attending the meeting were Miss Loas Holt, Bill Clark, Miss Martha Jane Buchanan, Miss Pat Mullins, Mrs. J. V. Cessna, Mrs. Ben Pickett, Miss Joyce Calhoon, Miss Lila Sessions, Mrs. Eolin Bowles, Miss Marian Gibbs and Mr. Gordon, all of Liberty, and Mrs. C. W. Spence and Mrs. Gladys Caruthers of Dayton.

The benefits of a little theater to the community and the individuals taking part was discussed by Mr. Gordon at the Tuesday meeting. The enterprise will be put in the hands of a set of officers, and plans for a production will be discussed. Rev. Chester Steele of the First Methodist Church, again offered a room in the building for the group to meet. Meeting time has been set for 7:30 p.m.

Notes from Kevin Ladd: The very next issue of The Liberty Vindicator, dated Thursday, October 8, 1953, chronicles the organizational meeting on Tuesday, October 6 of what would soon be known as “The Valley Players.” Bill Clark, who was then the manager of the Liberty Chamber of Commerce, was elected as first president of the group. Other officers were: Miss Lila Sessions, vice president; Mrs. Eolin Bowles, secretary-reporter; and Joe Burson, the husband of Kalita Humphreys, treasurer. Mrs. Ellen Pickett was named chairman of the telephoning committee. The original turnout of thirteen prospective members was happily joined by 23 additional new members. Membership dues were set at $2.00 per year with an initiation fee of $3.00. Kalita and Joe Burson were killed in a plane crash the next year while en route to New York City. Located within Liberty's Geraldine D. Humphreys Cultural Center, the Humphreys-Burson Theatre, the home of the Valley Players since 1970, is named in their memory. Bill Clark was killed in a tragic auto accident in 1966.

The Liberty Vindicator
Thursday, November 5, 1953

Valley Players to Present First Play Tuesday

Next Tuesday night is the first big date for Liberty County and the Valley Players, as the new little theater group will stage its premier performance at the Liberty High School Auditorium, with curtain time at 8:15 p.m.
The well known three-act comedy by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, “You Can’t Take it With You,” will be the Players’ first production., and will star Mary Gable, Joe Burson, Joe Jones and Eolin Bowles. John Gordon is directing.

Mrs. Gable will take the stage as Penelope, zany mother of a family of unbalanced but happy creatures. Mr. Burson’s role is Marvin Vanderhof, the grandfather who is the guiding force of the family, with his “do as you like” philosophy. Love interest will be supplied by Mrs. Bowles as Alice, who finds her family embarrassing to explain to her heart interest, Tony Kirby, played by Joe Jones.

Also members of the cast of 19 persons are Martha Jane Buchanan, Yvonne Lewis, Carl Shannon, Dale Alford, C. A. Umberfield Jr., Ray DeBoard, A.P. Oakley, Murl Carlton, Lena Halfin, B.M. LaFour, Julia Langford, Milton Giles, George Spellvine and Kalita Burson.

Serving as stage manager is Miss Lila Sessions, with Milton Giles as assistant director. Tickets for the play are on sale at Liberty Man’s Shop, Liberty Jewelry Store or Townsend’s Jewelry Store.


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