Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

HELEN SHARP

Morning Star, January 7, 2018, pg. 4

The Bohm Theatre at 201 S. Superior St. in downtown Albion has certainly re established itself as one of Albion's major entertainment centers. This structure has undergone a multi-million-dollar renovation, and we are now reaping the benefits of those investments. A Theatre such as this is not just a building—it is the people who run it and the quality of service they provide for their customers.

The one employee of the Bohm theatre who was the most well known and whose tenure lasted over three generations here was its ticket-taker (cashier), Miss Helen Sharp (1901-2001). Helen was a native of Cadillac, the daughter of Perry & M. Elsie (Decker) Sharp. She came here with her family at the age of 10. While in high school, Censor Theatre (223 S. Superior St.) owner George A. Bohm (1890-1951) hired Helen as a substitute cashier in August, 1917 for what was originally supposed to be a 3-week job. Helen had intended to return to Albion High School as a student when her summer work was over and classes began for the fall.

Mr. Bohm talked Helen into staying on the job, and thus began her career of 47 ˝ years in the ticket-booth as cashier/ticket seller, as well as becoming the bookkeeper for the theatre operations. Helen's brother Ward Sharp (1899-1993) became a well-known Albion construction contractor and also operated an evergreen nursery. To supplement her income at the Bohm, Helen was in partnership with her brother in those two businesses and served as the bookkeepers there.

Her home was at 413 S. Clinton St. on the northeast corner of W. Ash St. The structure is one of Albion's oldest and historic homes (pre-Civil War). It is still standing today, although it definitely needs repairs. In the 19th century it had been the home of one of Albion's pioneer physicians, Dr. Milton Osborn.

Helen began her career in the days of silent films, when live piano or organ music was played during each movie. When "talkies"came to the screen at the Censor Theatre in the late 1920s, Helen would help projectionist Albert Bohm (1887-1960) adjust the synchronization of the film and the sound. In those days, the sound came on records where were played simultaneously with the film. At the end of 1929, George A. Bohm opened his newly built Bohm Theatre and thereby closed his Censor Theatre down the street.

Hundreds of Albion children "grew up"with Helen as they attended shows at the Censor and Bohm Theatres through the years. She serviced at least three generations during her long tenure, and towards the end of her career would be selling admission tickets to the grandchildren of her patrons of the 1920s. Helen somehow knew when each child turned 12 years of age and would thereby be charged a full adult admission price. Her most well-heard phrase at the ticket-booth was "How many, please?"

Helen retired in the spring of 1965 after 47 ˝ years "behind the glass."George Bohm's nephews George and Jack Ryser, who then owned the Bohm, presented Helen with a heart-shaped diamond necklace in appreciation of her many years of faithful service. Helen then spent her winters in Naples, Florida, and summers back in Albion. She eventually moved to Albion Manor Care Center where she passed away at the age of 99, several months before her 100th birthday, on April 5, 2001. She was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Albion. Burial was in Riverside Cemetery.

When you visit the Bohm Theatre and walk past that ticket booth on the south side of the front foyer, remember our featured person, Miss Helen Sharp, as you pass by. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Helen Sharp. How many of our readers remember her?


Helen Sharp, Journal of Albion 1965

Next: DONNA MONTRAN: ALBION'S BATHING BEAUTY

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