Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Island theater pays homage to Round-Up City

Members of the armed forces sacrifice a lot in the service of their country. In return, various types of entertainment are provided, when and where possible, to afford service members a little respite from the realities of war — the USO is a prime example. During World War II, an army detachment headed by the former commander of Pendleton Field built their own movie theater and stage on Saipan Island in the Marianas and named it after the home of the Pendleton Round-Up.

In November of 1944, Colonel Lyman L. Phillips, the former Pendleton Field commander, sent a photo to Pendleton mayor Sprague Carter from “somewhere in the Marianas” showing a large wooden platform with a curtain in the rear and featuring an upright piano. The front of the stage bore a sign with a bucking horse and the name “Pendleton Bowl.” Hundreds of sandbags were available as “reserved seats”  — reserved by whoever got to them first.

From the Nov. 4, 1944 East Oregonian

The name of the theater, according to Col. Phillips, was a unanimous decision by the soldiers that constructed it. Pendleton was well known throughout the many fronts of the war due, to the many residents serving in the armed forces since Pearl Harbor, but also because of the world-famous rodeo.

Col. Phillips also sent copies of posters for various shows staged at the theater, including ”The Mariana Melodiers,” the movie “Thousands Cheer” featuring an all-star cast, and Cpl. Stasik and his accordion.

A copy of Ground Crew, a mimeographed newspaper produced by the unit, also was included in Mayor Carter’s package. It sported the headline “Betty Hutton is Coming!!!” and assured Ms. Hutton she would have plenty of police protection during her visit. The paper also included a poem called “Horace and Lyman Were Colonels” that told of the unit’s travels in many places, each verse ending with “They’re our COs, they can do no wrong.”

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