Jay Frank's historical mystery show, 10 Cent Treasure, has been playing to packed houses in downtown Kennewick for a couple of years.
Many of the patrons at Zinful Panini Grill & Wine Bar, where the show plays periodically, are repeat customers who heard about it from a friend and encouraged other friends to see it, said Elaine Himes of Kennewick.
Himes is from New Jersey and didn't learn much about West Coast history growing up, she said.
"Once is not enough to see this show, and I have learned so much history about the old west, " Himes said. "There is always something new you pick up the second time that you missed the first time. And, Jay is such a wonderful storyteller, he makes it so much fun."
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The next show is scheduled for 8 p.m. Nov. 15-16. Reservations are required. Call 586-6100. Cost is $7. Those who come early for dinner are encouraged to arrive by 6:45 p.m.
10 Cent Treasure entwines three stories steeped in historic mystery. One surrounds a rare 1894S dime minted in San Francisco. Another talks about the kidnapping and murder of a pioneer school teacher who was later immortalized in an 18-foot silver statue. And the last involves the theft of that silver statue from the 1893 World's Fair.
Frank tells the story in the dark, with the room lit only by candles on patrons' tables and a slide show of old photos projected onto the wall.
Frank admits that he is constantly finding new historic tidbits to add to 10 Cent Treasure, which keeps it fresh and interesting. It's probably another reason his audiences are many time repeat customers.
"I'm eight years into this story and still uncovering new revelations," he said. "So every year that passes there's a new playing field, which I hope keeps the audience mystified.
He's performed 10 Cent Treasure in Quincy and soon in Spokane for a historical society function.
"It's the kind of show that makes for a good draw for a fundraiser, especially for historical societies," he said
Frank says only 24 1894 S dimes were minted at the San Francisco facility, and all are considered the Holy Grail of the coin-collecting world. Approximately 10 remain in circulation today.
"The last time one of these dimes changed hands at auction, it sold for $1.3 million," Frank said. "That's why I call this show 10 Cent Treasure."
Frank owns a pair of cufflinks with 1894 dimes as the centerpiece, but they are not the rare 1894 S, he said.
As for Himes and her friends who continue to see the show from time to time, 10 Cent Treasure holds a fascination of history.
"Jay very cleverly puts this story together in a most engaging format," Himes said. "I have brought 16 of my friends to the show and most of them have seen it more than once and brought other friends to see it."
Kerri Lampson, the new owner of Zinful Panini Grill & Bar, said it was a no-brainer to continue offering 10 Cent Treasure to customers when she purchased the restaurant earlier this year from Cheri Manley.
"Ten Cent Treasure is extraordinarily interesting," Lampson said. "And every show is a sellout, so naturally, I want to continue offering it to customers."
--Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal