Local Residents Solve Mystery at Library

When the Marengo-Union Library was turned into a Roaring 20's speakeasy on March 5, 2011, a robbery occurred, which several Marengo residents were asked to solve.

The Friends of the Marengo-Union Library District presented "Mischief in Marengo," a skit written and directed by Wendy Garvey, a member at large of the friends of the library district. Several Marengo residents performed a skit where Jack Benny's fiancé's diamond ring was stolen. Audience members were asked to solve the mystery of who stole the ring. Garvey said. Ellen Brunschon, president of the friends of the library; and Susan Parker, head of Adult Services for the Marengo-Union Library District, came up with the idea for the skit.

"I researched some of the history of Marengo during the 20's and knew that there was a hotel here called the "Majestic Hotel," Garvey said. "There was a restaurant on the main floor of the hotel at that time. I also knew there was a train station here in Marengo. The train came through regularly. So, I just researched what was going on in Chicago and what was going on at the theaters. Jack Benny, of course, was [also] big at the time."

The cast of the show included Marengo residents: Ginger Johnson ("Clara"); Barb Weidner ("Gladys"); Elaine Rizleris ("Ruby"); Paul Garcia ("Charlie"): Jim Gibbons ("Jack Benny"); Noel Gaines ("Frank"); Terri Paulauski ("Bonnie"); and Bob Bradbury ("The Chief").

Garvey said she is a published poet, but this was the first skit she wrote and directed.

"Everybody's had some great input on what would and wouldn't work," she said. "It's been a lot of fun to work with the committee."

The friends of the library district are also discussing a possible second show in the near future, Garvey said.

Brunschon said The Friends of The Marengo-Union Library District started four years ago to raise funds for programs, equipment, and materials the library might need. She said the friends have held four fundraisers, including: the corner bake sale; the book and bake sale, held during Settlers' Days weekend; silent auction baskets; and the mystery night.

"We've actually been tossing [the idea of Mystery Night around] for four years," she said. "We just thought it would be a fun event and get everyone out and about. We made sure it was a Roaring 20's [theme]. The Speak Easy, prohibition--those were our [main topics] we started with; and then we took it from there."

Funds from the Mystery Night went towards library beautification, Brunschon said.

"They did a really great job," she said. "I'm very pleased with how everything turned out."

Mystery Night sponsors included: Hyperstitch Inc.; Donley's; Susan Parker; Levins Shoes & Dry Goods; The Clothing Doctor; Marengo Happenings.com; Café 20; White Lion Real Estate; Mary Hanson, library director of the Marengo-Union Public Library District; and Lucky Charlie's Consignment Shop.

Bob Bradbury, who played the Chief of Police in the skit, said his role was to "find the ring at the end and make the appropriate arrests."

"I've never been in a play before, but it's been interesting and fun," Bradbury said. "Everybody got along really well; and it was a great time."

Each team from the audience was given 10 clues to solve the mystery, Brunschon said. Teams also received prizes.

"We went with a mystery instead of a murder," Parker said. "We incorporated some little [clues], like in Agatha Christie. She gives clues throughout the book. So, I made the clues to go around to the various parts of the library to find the answers and [designed] the anagram part."

Loretta Ross, a Marengo resident and audience member, said she thought the event was great.

"It was very entertaining," Ross said. "It was fun trying to solve the mystery, [and] getting familiar with the library, where everything is."

Alicia Tippins, media director of Marengo Community High School and audience member, said she thought the skit was very clever.

"I'm always for people learning how to look up things in the library," Tippins said. "It was very nicely put together."