Business Details

Theatres: Wyoming Theatre

Lusk Free Lance, May 28, 1953


Rumors and more rumors relative to the motion picture business in Lusk came to an end today (Thursday) when final papers were signed, making Mr. and Mrs. Melvin “Pete” Meier of Harrison, Nebr., the new owners and operators of the Wyoming Theatre. They will, under terms of the sales contract, take possession nest Wednesday, June 3.

The purchase was made from Wesco Theatres, Inc., which has owned the local showhouse for the past seven years. The negotiations, which have been underway since the Meiers first made known their intentions to erect a drive-in theatre west of town came to a conclusion at Douglas this morning.

The Meiers, owners and operators of the Summit theatre at Harrison, had recently purchased a site on the Bill Bredthauer ranch, adjoining Highway 20 and announced their plans. This was followed shortly by another announcement this time from the Wesco group that it was planning similarly.

Then came the offer to buy or sell from the corporation, with the two parties reaching their decision today. Mr. and Mrs. Meier are credited with being excellent show people and have shown a number of top-bracket films at the Summit far ahead of the theater here.

In the transaction, Mr. and Mrs. Meier had to assume all current film contracts made by Wesco, and even tho these include billings not in line with the policy of the buyers, they hope to have these contracts terminated within the next couple of months if possible. Afterwards the Meiers pledge to show the best and latest pictures available so far as distributor conditions will permit.

Aside from the theatre business in this city, the transaction involved the land purchased by Wesco after the new owners had announced their intentions to build the drive-in theatre.

As to the drive-in possibilities for this year, Mr. and Mrs. Meier asserted that this would now be abandoned for this summer, since the delay encountered in the dealings with Wesco would make it too late to have construction completed before August, leaving but a few weeks for operation following that time. However, the drive-in project will remain among their future pans, they indicated.


The Lusk Herald, October 14, 1971


By Marge Marchant   (Mrs. Marchant,  who lives on a ranch in the Cheyenne River area in northern Niobrara, was Herald correspondent for that area for several years.)

Driving past the old theatre building recently, I could not help but feeling some nostalgia. The door leading up the stairs to the "Ole Merry Whirl Ballroom" stood ajar, and I glanced up. It looked unsafe for passage as did the whole of the entire structure.

Many of us between the ages of 45 and 60 have had hours of fun in the old building. On Saturday night in the early years of World War II many young couples first milked the cows, did up the rest of the chores, took $5.00 and went to town to "The Merry Whirl." First to the movie, where we endured the noise of dancers above who sounded like 500 couples doing the jitterbug to a fifty piece orchestra, and then to the ballroom. Here a big crystal chandelier whirled in the middle of the hall and everyone looked as though they were covered with colored sparklers.

We really enjoyed ourselves, and probably the worst thing that happened there was the stealing of Stetson hats. Jesting,of course---I believe my late husband Pat lost enough hats up there to buy him a couple of suits of clothes. They seemed to like his style of hat, but Pat never let the loss of one interfere with a good time. 

Just in case your fancy turned not to dancing, you were not a Fred Astaire, or happened to have two left feet there was always a good Bingo game you could join.

Back in those days there were twice the number of people living in Lusk and surrounding area, and come Saturday night the hall was filled to capacity. Peoples came from far and near to dance at the Merry Whirl.

I recall a couple of incidents there that I witnessed which were funny but could have been tragic. One night a couple of men that had patronized Barney's Bar too long sat in one of the screenless windows of the hall, and fell through to the sidewalk below. Everyone rushed to the fire escape to see how badly they were hurt, but apparently the fresh air was all they needed, as they seemingly felt better than they did before the fall.

One of the two men was the late Fred Bryant who most generally played the violin with the orchestra. He was a good violinist, not to be outdone by many. He played entirely by ear. The other man was the late P.D. Crane who  worked at Barney's, and also as a ranch hand for Ray Harris at Lance creek and Jim Reed St. on Cheyenne River. My recollection of just when the Merry Whirl closed is not exact, but my son Jack tells me while attending Casper Junior College he came to Lusk for a New Year's Eve dance at the Merry Whirl in 1949. And they were still having a big time. I imagine that was probably about the last of the dances there , as that portion of the building was condemned not long thereafter. The theatre continued to operate for several years after the hall was closed.

Yes, the old building was in need of being done away with and surely not worth the taxes. Most of those actively involved are now gone---some passed away and many other scattered to the far corners of the earth. Soon the building too will be completely gone, but by many will always be remembered in happy thoughts as having housed the Wyoming Theatre and that Merry Whirl. 

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