John Morris’s article today on Goodnight, Raleigh highlighted one of my favorite places here in the beautiful city of Raleigh, NC, where I was born and grew up — see “The Splendor of Raleigh’s Little Theatre and Rose Garden.” This cultural treasure is only a short walk from NCSU and the Cameron Village shopping center. (See the Little Theatre’s web site for information about the organization and its productions.)

Morris includes some great photos of the Rose Garden and amphitheater. Most interesting to me are historical photos, such as the one linked here to the right, from the theater’s construction during the 1930s.

Thinking about the Rose Garden conjures up a wealth of memories for me. When I was a teenager during the 1960s, my church, the Raleigh Unitarian Fellowship, met at the Little Theatre for a time on Sundays. About 1969, when I was in high school, a group of us held an anti-war rally in the amphitheatre. We were most amused when a guy showed up and tried to be surreptitious while taking photos of us with a telescopic camera lens — a representative of the city the police department, as I later learned during a conversation with a police captain.

One night about 1971, some friends and I walked down at night and approached the amphitheater from the back through the rose garden. The place was crowded and lit up, and, in our altered state of mind at the time, we were amazed when a cowboy walked by us in the garden, leading a horse. My friend Ray turned to me with a twinkle in his eye and said, “Must be gettin’ close to town.”

As it turned out, this was a dress rehearsal for an outdoor performance of Oklahoma — we sat down on the concrete bleachers and enjoyed the show for awhile.

My most memorable visit to the Rose Garden, though, was an outing several of us had there during a total eclipse, which I believe was in March 1970.

Here are some photos of the Rose Garden from a recent visit by me and Virginia and our friend Ellin from Vermont.

AB — 6 January 2010

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