Friday, July 14, 2017

July 1927: Summertime entertainment & edification

We're tempted sometimes to conclude that our ancestors led more relaxed lives in part because there were fewer options --- including in the field of entertainment.

Which is not the case at all, at least during July of 1927 --- as indicated by the various options promoted in The Herald-Patriot of July 14.

The big front-page news was the fact Chariton's brand new Ritz Theater was nearing completion on the south side of the square.

The latest update on the Ritz appeared under the headline, "Start Work on Front: Masons Commence Laying Brick at the New Ritz:"

"This morning masons started work laying brick and stone for the front of Harry Cramer's new Ritz theatre. The front will be of cream colored brick layed with black mortar and with the stone trimmings will make a very attractive front.

"On the interior of the building the work of plastering and putting up the metal work to hold the same is progressing at about the rate one should expect. As soon as the plastering and painting is completed work will likely commence on pouring the floor and rounding out the finishing touches to the building."

Although we now view the latest films at the new Vision II Theater northwest of the square, that cream-colored brick facade still is with us, although modified, and the building itself filled with the stock of one of Iowa's finest bike emporiums, Connecticut Yankee Pedaller.

The Ritz reported upon during 1927 was heavily damaged during the big southside fire of 1930, but rebuilt immediately behind the 1927 facade, which survived with minimal damage.


As The Ritz progressed, the venerable Lincoln Theatre, just two doors west on the ground floor of the three-story Temple Building --- destroyed in the 1930 fire --- was advertising Friday "fun night," Sunday screenings of Rod La Roque in "The Cruise of the Jasper B" and Clara Bow in "Children of Divorce" on Monday and Tuesday (above).

And, yes, there had been a minor skirmish some years earlier about whether or not the city should permit Sunday screenings of Hollywood films. Hollywood won.


Commencing on Monday, July 18, according to The Herald-Patriot, the Dixon "theatrical aggregation" would pitch its big tent for a week's run on the then-vacant lot just across the street south  of the Bates House hotel west of the square. That lot now is filled with the new building of Chariton True Value Hardware:

"Beginning on next Monday, July 18, the Dixon theatrical aggregation will open for a week of play here. This is one of the best theatrical organizations in the country at the present, so it is generally asserted. The bills include dramas, comedies, and the very best there is in vaudeville. The tent will be pitched early on Monday and everything will be in readiness for the exhibitions at the regular show time that night. The big tent will be spread opposite the Bates Hotel. Read the announcement and see what it says about admitting the ladies free on Monday night. The hum-drum of the summer will be enlivened for a week by the coming of Dixon and his artists. Make your arrangements to attend, enjoy good acting, be edified, entertained and amused. There is variety and all can be suited."


Looking ahead to early August, promotion of the 1927 Chautauqua season already had begun: "With one of the best programs ever presented the Chariton Independent Chautauqua will open the course the second week in next month. Cast your eye over the program and convince yourself of the quality of the talent. All arrangements are being made for this midsummer feature:

Monday, Aug. 8: 2:30 p.m. Concert by The Mason Jubilee Singers, a typical jubilee company; 7:45 p.m., concert by The Mason Jubilee Singers, plantation melodies, negro spirituals; 8:45 p.m., lecture, "Fiddling While the World Burns" by Dr. Ira Landrith, a fine lecture dealing with world problems.

Tuesday, Aug. 9: 2:30 p.m., concert by The Toys, Ernest Toy and Eva Leslie Toy, an artist company; 3:30 p.m., lecture, Pathways to Power" by Wm. Rainey Bennett; 7:45 p.m. concert, The Toys, vocal and instrumental; 8:45 p.m., lecture, "the Man Who Can" by Wm. Rainey Bennett, a popular lecturer.

Wednesday, Aug. 10: 2 p.m. Concert, the Howard Russell Collegians, featuring Howard Russell, noted Canadian baritone; 7:45 p.m. entertainment program featuring Tom Corwine, story-teller, humorist and polyphonic imitator; 8:45 p.m. concert, the Howard Russell Collegians, musicians, entertainers;

Thursday, Aug 11:  2:30 p.m., Afternoon play, "Other People's Money," the Inskeep Players, clean, clever and funny; 7:45 p.m. Great night play, "The Mender," the Inskeep Players, a rollicking comedy.

Friday, Aug. 12: 2:30 p.m., Concert, the G. Magnus Schutz Concert Company, a great mixed quartet providing the best in music; 7:45 p.m., lecture, "North of the Ears," by Strickland Gillian, one of America's greatest humorists; 8:45 p.m., concert by the G. Magnus Schutz Concert Company, every member a soloist.

Chautauqua events would be held in a big tent on the spacious and shaded grounds of Alma Clay School, north of the square, a space now filled by Johnson Auditorium and the Chariton Community Center. 


Manwhile down at Russell, that community had on Wednesday night celebrated the paving of its main street, reported upon in The Herald-Patriot as follows:

"There was a big street dance held at Russell, last night, under the auspices of the American Legion, dedicating their new paving to public use. There was a tent show in town and the dance did not begin until nine o'clock, and Shaw Street was filled with the many waltzers, and square dancers, in the rhythm of motion to the music of the orchestra. There was an enormous crowd present, and Chariton was in evidence in great numbers."

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