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Nanty Glo's Capitol Theater, 2

Updated December 2010

Who remembers 'Miss Capitol'?

'New' old photos, articles surface
about the historic Capitol Theater

A new "stash" of photos and clippings from old editions of the Nanty Glo Journal has been contributed to your Home Page by Monnette Nairn Sturgill, whose mother, Nellie Millward Nairn, was "Miss Capitol" in 1930 and 1932 (photo right). I did not remember ever hearing of "Miss Capitol" before, but Mrs. Sturgill has submitted clippings documenting the designation for several winners over a succession of years in the '30s. Also included in her scrapbook (handed down by her mother and copied for us) are photos of the Capitol from the Journal, (above top) probably dating from its opening in 1929. The items above are photos of the "magnificent Capitol Theater building" (the best photo we have seen of the building; I had forgotten its real splendor); the outside entrance (above) and (below it) the inside of the theater's lobby. Note that the marquee on the photos above is much simpler than the marquee pictured on the photo on Capitol Forum Part One. Based on the listing of "Rage of Paris" as one of the features playing when the Forum One photo was taken, it must date to 1938.

These copies of newspaper photos have been enhanced as much as the webmaster's software can; click any of them to see a version closer to the way it looks in the scrapbook. Note: I can make out the words "anniversary jubilee" on the billboard on the northeast end of the building, so possibly these photos were published for a special anniversary, more likely 1934 than 1929.

Below are copies of Nanty Glo Journal articles reporting the 1930 Miss Capitol popularity contest.

Below is the text of the Nanty Glo Journal article reporting the results of the 1932 Miss Capitol popularity contest. As the clipping was too fragile to copy, Mrs. Sturgill transcribed it:


Chosen Second Time as "Miss Capitol" for Anniversary Event


Miss Nellie Millward, winner of the "Miss Capitol" contest in 1930, was again victor in the contest for the honor in 1932 in the voting which closed Friday evening. The voting developed into a hard-fought contest towards the close, and the result was in doubt until the announcement of the final count which was made in the theatre, Saturday evening. The winner had a lead of but 188 votes over Miss Agnes Davidson, second high lady in the race. In accordance with an agreement made between them before the close of the voting, both girls will go on the sight-seeing trip to New York, leaving Nanty-Glo via automobile for the big city at 7 o'clock tomorrow morning.

[Above: Facsimile of an actual ballot, from among the more than 35,000 cast.]

The winner, according to the terms of the contest, was entitled to take a traveling companion along. The vote and standing of the ten leading candidates, together with their awards, were as follows:

1. Nellie Millward, total vote 7,146—Free Trip to New York
2. Agnes Davidson, vote 6,958—Radio
3. Nora Simmons, vote 4,925—Set of Lamps
4. Charlotte Carlson, 4,205—Set of lamps
5. Helen Lekawa, 3,945—One-year Pass to Show
6. Ann Nairn, 2,635—Six-months' Pass to Show
7. Lois Berkebile, 2,305—Three-months' Pass
8. Catherine McDonnell, 2,423—Three-months' Pass
9. Alice Hadley, 2,398—Vanity Case
10. Kathleen Keating, 2,202—One-months' Pass

The crowning of the winner as "Miss Capitol" took place at the theatre Monday evening. The Lauer Motor Co. furnished a new car which was sent to the home of Miss Millward on Third Street, and headed by Nanty-Glo Band a parade took place from the home to the theatre where the crowning event took place before a packed house. A special song the theme of which was "Goodbye Nanty-Glo, Hello Broadway," was sung by Johnny Bello, son of Manager Bello of the Capitol Theatre, as the cortege entered the show room.

After Miss Capitol was presented by Prof. Steiffer, master of ceremonies, and received the plaudits of the crowd, each of the other winning contestants were presented in turn. Jack Connor and His Orchestra added to the pleasure of the occasion by playing. Miss Catherine Cunningham, "Miss Capitol" in 1931, appeared on the stage and presented the crown to her successor, and in turn was presented with a basket of flowers by the management.

The dancing and vaudeville numbers given by pupils of the Steiffer Schools of Dancing were specially pleasing and added numbers to the full program of entertainment.

At the close, Johnny Bello sang another special number, "Goodbye Sweetheart," dedicated to Miss Capitol. Miss Catherine Cunningham was accompanist to all numbers. Miss Millward and Miss Davidson are motoring to New York with Fred G. Barker of Johnstown at the wheel.

In the city they will be entertained at Hotel Claridge, in the heart of Broadway. They will enjoy a full round of pleasure and entertainment while there and expect to return home about Wednesday of next week.

The celebration of the third anniversary of the opening of the Capitol Theatre is being carried on all this week, with an entire change of program each night. The large birthday cake, baked by the Keystone Bakery, was cut by Miss Capitol last evening and each adult in attendance was given a piece. Tonight is Chinaware Night, tomorrow "Gold Night," and Saturday night is "Family Night."


Another Journal article on the 1930 event:

The following letter was sent to Miss Millward from the theater manager.

At left, Miss Milward's public thank you.

Contributions of others' memories (or memorabilia) are also welcome and will be added to this page as in the previous Capitol Forum page.


No sooner had I added the note about adding memories to this forum than this was received (no doubt it was already in the "mail"). —jk

September 25, 2010

Hey Jon,

My name is Bud Book, in the ole days it was Buddy Book. My parents Abe (Bookie) and Kathryn (Ray) Book owned a grocery store/meat market/apartment building across from St. Mary's. A friend of my dad's took me to Jimmy Stewart's Father's Hardware Store in Indiana, Pa. probably in the late '50's, nice gentleman who looked a lot like Jimmy. He also owned a large farm just outside of Indiana where he raised Black Angus cattle.

About Gene Kelly. The article is correct; he gave dancing lessons, I had a cousin who took them.

I have a lot of good memories about growing up in Nanty Glo, small-town America. I have two children and five grandchildren who grew up/are growing up in a small town in Michigan called Ottawa Lake.

I enjoyed the article on the Capitol, spent a lot of evenings and Sunday afternoons there. Mr. Bello threw me out along with two friends one Sunday afternoon for a squirt gun battle. He said I would get my squirt gun back but I NEVER did.

I also wanted to thank Barb Hakanen for all the info she collected on my family, brought back a lot of good ole memories.

Bud Book

© Jon Kennedy 2010