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Volunteers keep century-old hall up to date

National Volunteer Week - April 18-24

By Carol Sones Shelter - | Apr 14, 2021

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary Some of the officers and board members who volunteer at The Turbotville Community Hall are (Left-Right) Loretta Mabus, June Kline, Herbert Zeigler and Kay Houseknecht.

TURBOTVILLE-There will come a time when those with fond memories of times spent as students in the Turbotville Community Hall will be no more. The Hall, built in 1922 and continuously owned by the borough, has an auditorium seating of 429, a foyer and two rooms on the top floor. Over the years, many events occurred in both the auditorium and the expansive basement. Four members and officers of the Community Hall Corporation came together to share their memories. All had gone through the school system conveniently located across the street.

Students bundled up to walk to the Community Hall basement where the school cafeteria was located. And according to Herb Zeager, “About the mid 1950s, wrestling practices and matches where held here, supervised by teacher and coach, Joe Wolfe.”

Loretta Mabus recalled Saturday night dances. Our proms were also held here. And during the Turbotville Fair held on grounds next door, we walked around inside and out,” she said.

Meals for various occasions were held, such as a Community Thanksgiving meal sponsored by churches in town. Until recently, the commercial kitchen was used to prepare banquet meals. Banquets, wedding receptions and other events may still be scheduled for a 200 person capacity if catered.

June Kline spoke of 1946 when the fourth grade classes wrote and performed one act dramas in the auditorium. “The contest decided which home room were winners. The home room teacher was in charge with the assistance of Robert Wertman, the music teacher.”

Also upstairs, movies were shown for the admission charge of a nickel. “It was the only place around large enough and was an active place when we were growing up,” Mabus said.

Or, when the two upstairs front rooms of the building housed the health, short hand and typing classes, according to June Kline.

From Kay Houseknecht, the story was told of her classmate, then Loretta Rovenolt (now Mabus).

First grade teacher, Miss Blanch Snyder, was set for retirement when Loretta’s mother pleaded with the teacher to postpone another year. “Loretta was the last of five siblings up to then, taught by Snyder, so she stayed.” The retirement party was held in the auditorium, so well attended that the smaller children sat two in a seat. “I remember Miss Snyder being on stage and asking for a volunteer to dance and Sam Williamson obliged, the two swayed across the floor,” Houseknecht said.

All present asked to have the late Jim Chamberlin remembered as the groups long-time president with a passion for the place. “Whenever we happened to pass by the hall, Jim’s truck was usually parked here, attending to something,” Zeager said.

Since 1996, the volunteers of the corporation has held fundraisers for the building’s upkeep. Much was needed as for a time parts of it went unused. With renovations, the basement has hosted family reunions, funerals, weddings, musical groups, plays, auctions, pre-school graduations, WR School District farmers’ meetings, PA Department of Health clinics, Red Cross blood drives, square dances, civic clubs, Turbotville Heritage Society meetings, youth sports meetings, Borough meetings, private parties and currently the non-denominational group, “New Life Worship Center.” Santa Claus continues to make a stop at the hall each Christmas time.

Since the fall of 1995, the monthly Dagwood Sandwich sale has been their constant fundraiser. They also offer soup sales, craft shows, raffles and auctions.

Currently, officers are planning renovations for the upstairs foyer and more, readying for a 100th year celebration in 2022, date yet to be determined.