The Newcomerstown Historical Society will present "The Last Customer" on Dec. 7 and 8 at the Olde Main Street Museum, Canal Street, Newcomerstown.
Set in 1967 at the Post House on Old Route 21 in Newcomerstown, the short order cook is played by living historian Chris Hart and his last customer before closing of the establishment is played by living historian Ray McFadden. The two reminisce about how State Route 21 affected the many lives of those living in the area and express concern of how the coming Interstate will affect the community. They look back at the many families and generations who used the road to come to the area seeking a better way of life during post and WWII.
The discussion leads to many of the old timers and the well repeated education they received on the three r's, reading, ‘ritin and Route 21. Such jokes abound among those who made the journey from West Virginia and points south.
Another of the repeated jokes recalls the journey up Route 21 making their way to Akron to work in the rubber mills. As it goes, the old car broke down in Newcomerstown and Heller’s Tools was hiring so they stayed on in Newcomerstown..
The completion of sections of Interstate 77 necessitated the use of portions of Route 21 that was never intended to carry the volumes of traffic as it funneled into the single lane from a two lane highway. The winter brought many accidents and tragic loss of life on the slick, hilly and winding road between Cambridge and Strasburg. The heavy traffic of Friday nights was testimony to the many from West Virginia returning home for the weekend. Likewise, Sunday night would see a reverse in the massive flow of traffic for those returning to points North like Akron, Cleveland and the many small towns between.
This writer recalls growing up on a farm on the hills adjacent to Route 21. On cold snowy Friday and Sunday nights, a continuous flow of lights appeared as a snake winding its way over the hills. Many cars, trucks and buses ended up in the ditches along the curvy slick roads. The local farmers would take their tractors, at risk of their lives and pull the stranded travelers from the ditches. The grateful travelers usually rewarded the farmers with a token gift of a few dollars.
Tickets for "The Last Customer" can be purchased at the box office at the Olde Main Street Museum and Social Center, 213 W. Canal St. in Newcomerstown. The Tickets are $15 for a meal and a show or $10 for the show only. The menu for the event is baked spaghetti, salad, bread, dessert and a drink. The doors open at 6 p.m. for those having the meal; it will be served at 6:30 p.m. For those wishing to see the show only, arrive before 7, at the time of the show. There are advance ticket sales only; there will be no tickets at the door.
Box office hours for ticket sales at the museum is November 23, 24 and 25, November 30, Dec. 1, 2. Deadline for ticket purchase is Dec. 4. Call 740-498-7735 for more information.