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Mrs. K recalls early times in Colfax

Longtime resident marks 99th birthday
By: Gloria Beverage
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Celestine Klokkevold loved the midnight shows at the Colfax Theater. She and her husband, Albert, were living in San Leandro when he decided he wanted to own his own business. In 1952 they purchased the theater on Main Street and moved to Colfax. “After we had been here for a while, Al thought people would like something different,” she recalled. “We thought it wouldn’t hurt to try one.” He went to San Francisco to pick out the scariest movie he could find, Mrs. K explained. “We ran it in the summer when there was no school,” she said. After the evening show ended, they closed the doors so they could clean the theater. When she opened the box office an hour later, Mrs. K said she was surprised to see more teenagers than adults waiting in line. “The kids hadn’t seen each other since school closed. It was like homecoming for them,” she continued. “They got quite a kick out of it. The girls would scream and the boys would make fun of them.” The midnight shows, at 35 cents per person, quickly became standard summer fare. At times the teens would get restless and head out to the lobby to talk with their friends and stand around, she said. Sometimes they asked for permission to go outside where it was cooler and come back inside later. “I let them do what they liked,” she said. “We had no trouble with them.” After the midnight show ended, the family would once again clean the theater. “We always went through and checked everything,” she said. “They smoked in the balcony, so we always had to check to be sure nothing was left behind.” Best of all, owning the theater gave her the connection she needed to get acquainted. “I loved meeting the people,” said Mrs. K, who celebrated her 99th birthday last week. “I made a lot of good friends. When we first moved here, I knew no one.” She eventually joined the Colfax Soroptimist Club, holding numerous offices and retiring as a life member. One Easter, she recalled, each member was asked to create a bonnet with items that represented their business. On the day of the meeting, Mrs. K walked into the Colfax Hotel proudly wearing a hat decorated with filmstrips. “At that time the Greyhound bus would drop people off at the hotel. They could go in and have lunch at the counter,” she said. “When I got there the lobby was full of people. Our meeting room was in the back, so we had to walk through the lobby. We got quite a few laughs and a few claps.” After her husband’s death in 1973, she sold the theater and went to work at a dress shop on Depot Street. Still, the years her family owned and operated the theater hold the sweetest memories for Mrs. K. She continues to live in the family home with the assistance of two caregivers, who take her to feed the ducks at the Meadow Vista Park, visits with friends or read to her. Her children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren visit on weekends. “They’re all so successful,” she went on. “My oldest, Lance, is already retired. Galen has a plastics business of his own with 10 branches in different states. Derelle works for an insurance company. She’s getting ready to retire.” Mrs. K has no simple explanation for her longevity. “I eat too much dessert. I do exercise sometimes,” she said. “I think what gave me a bright look on life was the theater. There was always something interesting there.”