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The main reason this theater is important to me is that it was the home of the WLS National Barn Dance. Back in the good old days, WLS was a farm station with shows that appealed to rural folks. One of those shows was the National Barn Dance. (The show first aired in 1924. After WLS became a rock station in the early sixties, the Barn Dance switched for awhile to WGN TV, but eventually died out completely). The Barn Dance was Chicago's answer to The Grand Ol' Opry (the Barn Dance first aired one year before the debut of the Opry, but the Opry obviously lasted longer). As a youngster before the days of TV, I faithfully listened on the radio every Saturday night to the singing of Rex Allen (later a cowboy movie star), Homer and Jethro, Lulabelle and Scotty, and others. (Although before my time, Pat Butram and many other stars of the day got their start on the Barn Dance.) Since we lived not too far from Chicago, on occasion my parents would take me to the Eighth Street Theater to see the gig live. My Mother used to tell the story of how at the age of five, I woke up crying one night. She rushed in to comfort me, and I said, "You and Daddy won't take me to the Barn Dance." (I had had a dream that I had begged and begged to no avail.) We went the next Saturday.

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Date last modified: 4/30/97

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