Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category

Polite Masque of Pageantry and Prohibition

How were the first parties after Prohibition? According to this 1919 article, the NYC parties were not nearly as fun as before. In New Jersey, on the other hand…

First, in New York City:

Even the parties that evaded the mighty hand of the law were afraid to act as if they were having too good a time, lest the gods see and envy and smite. As for those others who may have partied in neighborhood studios, perhaps their abandon was restrained by the Christian charity which gloats not over less favored mortals — perhaps by a sobering walk across the street in the night air. Be that as it may, a visitor from Mars would have seen only a few hundred well-bred Americans dancing waltzes and fox trots apparently with much enjoyment. Not one “interpretive dance” was improvised… The ball closed at 4:30 A.M. instead of at the dear old bedraggled hour of 7.

Apparently a party ending at 4:30 A.M. was considered early. Good times.

But relatively to the comparatively staid New York, another nearby state acted like the ban on alcohol never happened.

However, there are rumors that in Jersey — where people still vote against prohibition — things are different. A Halloween party in a certain country club over the river dared to be a masquerade ball in which the thermos bottle was the only thing that did not wear a mask. It stood boldly on every table. Folks say that it was a nice party, and they’re building another tube to Jersey from chastened New York.

In the words of the song Blow Us All Away from Hamilton: “Everything’s legal in New Jersey.”

 

Polite Masque of Pageantry and Prohibition: Prunes and Prisms Also Would Have Been Perfectly at Home at the First Bohemian Ball in the City of Dreadful Drought (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 16, 1919

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

November 15th, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Sobriety Just Grew, Without Awaiting Dry Laws

Yes, there was once a time when Atlantic City was the poster child for good behavior.

In 1919, Prohibition went into effect. But Atlantic City had already embraced the anti-alcohol ethos long before.

“There was a time,” said Sam again as the boom swung toward Spain, “when seven out of ten men got on my boat here with flasks in their pockets, and on Sundays the crowds I took out were half loaded before they got on and jagged to the scuppers when I landed them. Within late years, long before they put over prohibition on us, not one passengers in twenty — yes, not one in fifty — that I carry has anything on his hip, and on Sunday I do not carry one intoxicated man or woman in a hundred. Is there any rum on board now?” he asked, negotiating a roller that looked like Davy Jones’s own private make.

Chrous: “No!”

“The American people vindicated again!” said Sam, twirling the wheel a la roulette.

To be fair, Atlantic City wasn’t really “Atlantic City” yet — the first legal casino wouldn’t open there until 1978.

The first legal casino in Las Vegas, if you’re wondering, opened in 1931.

Sobriety Just Grew, Without Awaiting Dry Laws: Look at the All-American Seaside Resort, for Example: Atlantic City Became a Mirror of Decency Before It Knew Prohibition Sobriety Just Grew (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 20, 1919

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

July 18th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Life,Recreation

Outlook for Touring in Europe Next Autumn

WWI caused more than a slight decline in tourism to Europe. Now that the war was over in late 1918, would summer 1919 return tourism to normal levels?

It would probably take until spring 1920 for tourism to Europe to return to normal levels, predicted Gilbert E. Fuller, President of the American Association of Tourist and Ticket Agents. But that varied country by country:

“France is keener to have American tourists than business men just now,” said Mr. Fuller, “because she has as yet nothing to sell to the latter, whereas the former only ask to see the battlefields where the Americans and their allies fought.”

“In Belgium I was told that everything was in readiness even now for tourists. Food is plentiful — more so than in any other European country I visited — but prices are high, as they are everywhere else.”

“Italy wants tourists, but food is scarce there just now and no definite plans have been made.”

“Switzerland wants tourists, but just now it is one of the most difficult countries in Europe to enter or leave.”

“England’s principal reasons for unwillingness to have tourists just yet are lack of food and the fact that most of the great London hotels have been commandeered for Government offices and their interiors entirely transformed, so that, even if they were again available as hotels, they could not be made ready for tourists for some time.”

“Germany is not on the map so far as prospective tourist travel is concerned. Aside from the fact that people don’t want to go there, no tourist agency is making any plans for travel in Germany.”

Perhaps Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation was on to something when he said, “I would sooner visit Europe than have something romantic happen between us.”

Outlook for Touring in Europe Next Autumn: But Promoter of Pleasure Travel, Just Returned, Says Conditions Will Be Far Below Normal Until Spring of 1920 (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 18, 1919

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

May 16th, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Life,Recreation

Entirely New Social Life in Washington

America’s entering of World War I impacted the social scene in Washington:

“There will be no formal dinner for the Cabinet officers and their wives at the White House this year. That affair, as well as the three other important dinners and the four receptions ordinarily given in the course of the three Winter months, is removed from the White House social calendar for the coming season.”

Well, we all have to make sacrifices in life.

Interestingly, this same phenomenon has not seemed to occur in 21st century Washington. Despite 9/11 and the war launched in its aftermath, the 2002 White House Correspondents Dinner — the crown jewel event of the D.C. social scene — continued unabated, with Drew Carey and President George W. Bush both performing standup comedy routines.

Entirely New Social Life in Washington: Formal Dinners and Official Receptions Abandoned — Strangers Heartily Welcomed in Circles Which Were Once Too Exclusive to Penetrate (PDF)

From Sunday, October 21, 1917

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

October 19th, 2017 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Life,Recreation

Your Pet Cat May Have to Have a License Soon

This is notable for being by far the most “clickbait” style headline the New York Times Sunday Magazine ever featured on this blog. This is perhaps the only headline yet featured that would be written word-for-word the exact same way today.

A New York state bill was debated in 1917 that would license all pet cats and kill all others in the state. (The verb used in the article is the even more horrific “destroyed.”) The reason was not due to visceral hatred of the cute kittens, but for economic purposes:

“The high cost of living is largely due to the fact that not enough foodstuff is produced by the farmers; the shortage of crop is, in turn, partly due to the ravages of insects, and the only effective check on the insects is the birds. But the birds are destroyed by the cats. Every link in this chain between the cat and the cost of food is backed up and proved by scientific demonstration and statistics and the totals all along the line are enormous.

“For example, Frank M. Chapman of the American Museum of Natural History figures that there are at least 25,000,000 cats in the United States, and the country’s annual loss in crops from the depredations of insects alone is estimated at $1,200,000,000.

The license fee for a pet cat would have been 50 cents and 25 cents for each subsequent reissue.

Shockingly, the most common argument against the bill — and in favor of cats — was not from animal lovers or PETA (which would not be founded until 1980), but “The one argument most frequently heard in behalf of the cat is that it kills rats and mice.”

Did the bill pass? While I found that in the same year of 1917 New York state began requiring dogs to be licensed, I was unable to determine whether cats were too. If anybody knows the answer, please comment below.

Your Pet Cat May Have to Have a License Soon: Otherwise It Will Be Killed as a Public Nuisance If Bill Now Before Legislature Passes — An Effort to Protect Birds and Crops (PDF)

From Sunday, March 11, 1917

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

March 16th, 2017 at 7:40 am

Princeton’s Anti-Club Fight Stirs the University

Princeton's Anti-Club Fight Stirs the University

Princeton is known for their “eating clubs,” private institutions not officially affiliated with the university, which are something of a hybrid between a dining hall and a social organization, where most juniors and seniors eat the majority of their meals. There are 11 eating clubs, for which six involve a selection process and four which use a lottery system. This tradition goes back a long time, going back to 1879. In 1917, some wanted to abolish the system, by refusing entry even if they were accepted. Explained one faculty member:

“Election to one of the clubs has come to have altogether too great an importance in the estimation of the students. Club election was not a reason that brought the boy to college, but once he is matriculated election to a club becomes the overshadowing feature of his freshman and sophomore years. It constitutes a great disturbing factor in his college life.”

Did it work? No. Today, 11 Princeton eating clubs exist, all of which existed as of 1917 as well. However, several that were in existence during 1917 have since gone defunct: Elm, Campus, Key and Seal, Dial Lodge, Arch, and Gateway.

Why did the clubs persist? Likely because of the counterargument that even those who wanted to do away with the clubs back in 1917 acknowledged:

“But while we deplore it and earnestly wish to do away with it, it none the less brings us face to face with the other side of the question — the natural and ineradicable tendency of people of demonstrated congeniality to associate more or less exclusively. It was this instinct that brought about the organization of the clubs, and that is the reason for their continued existence.”

Princeton’s Anti-Club Fight Stirs the University: Refusal of a Group of Sophomores to Accept Election in Any of the Clubs Brings Up a Perplexing Problem for Solution (PDF)

From Sunday, January 21, 1917

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

January 19th, 2017 at 7:32 am

Posted in Education,Recreation

‘Movies’ and ‘War Game’ as Aids to Our Navy

From November 5, 1916

movies-and-war-game-as-aids-to-our-navy

‘Movies’ and ‘War Game’ as Aids to Our Navy: Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske Advocates Combining Former with Famed Kriegspiel to Develop American Naval Strategists (PDF)

Unlike any other century-old article that I’ve come across when running this website, this 1916 piece started off as though the writer figured it might be read a century subsequently:

“Historians of tomorrow may award the honor of having developed great American naval strategists to the “movies.” That sounds improbable now, but the improbability will be materially lessened if the shapers of our naval policies adopt suggestions contained in “The Navy as a Fighting Machine,” a new book by Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske…

Not ships, nor guns, nor men, but strategy is the prime requisite for successful naval warfare. Strategy must be worked out in peace times, long before the outbreak of war, in order to insure victory. The best way to develop naval strategists in peace times is through intense cultivation of the “Kriegspiel,” the famous “war game” played much in the manner of chess by German army officers ever since the days of von Moltke, and introduced a few years ago among the officers of the Germany Navy by Kaiser Wilhelm II. A good way to carry the method a step ahead is to “film” the various moves in a given “Kriegspiel” problem and project them on a screen, in order that they may be more easily understood by audiences composed of American naval officers.

Does anybody currently serving in the military know if this suggestion was ever adopted en masse by the U.S. military? I’d certainly never heard of it before. I just covered a talk given by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at the National Press Club a few weeks ago — clearly I should have asked him then.

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

November 2nd, 2016 at 3:25 pm

New System of Physical Training in Schools

From October 1, 1916

New System of Physical Training in Schools: Not Merely Gymnastics and Athletics, But Medical Inspection and the Teaching of Health Habits Involved in Dr. Finley’s Plan (PDF)

new-system-of-physical-training-in-schools

Instituting physical education requirements was all the rage around 1916, with 97 percent of four-year universities having a physical education requirement in 1920. By 2013, according to Oregon State University researcher Brad Cardinal, that number had declined to an all-time low of 39 percent.

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

October 2nd, 2016 at 10:53 pm

Posted in Education,Recreation

Nation to Honor Lafayette Next Wednesday

From September 3, 1916

Nation to Honor Lafayette

Nation to Honor Lafayette Next Wednesday: 159th Anniversary of Birthday of French Hero of American Revolution Recalls His Triumphal Visit to United States Ninety-two Years Ago (PDF)

How would people in 1916 have reacted if told that, a century later, Daveed Diggs — a black man — would win the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his rapping role as Marquis de Lafayette?

Leave a comment

Written by Jesse

August 31st, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Recreation

America’s Switzerland; Three Days From New York

From September 17, 1911

AMERICA'S SWITZERLAND; THREE DAYS FROM NEW YORK

AMERICA’S SWITZERLAND; THREE DAYS FROM NEW YORK: A Traveler’s Tale of the Beauties of the Canadian Rockies Where Comparatively Few Americans Go (PDF)

The Canadian Rockies remain a great place to go on vacation. I went last year, spending a week or so in and around Banff, Alberta. A Google Image Search for Banff will show you some of its beauty. There’s a lot of great hiking, it’s easy to reach, not very expensive, and not too crowded.

Leave a comment

Written by David

September 14th, 2011 at 10:00 am

The Auto-Hater Gives His Opinion — And Acts

From September 10, 1911

THE AUTO-HATER GIVES HIS OPINION -- AND ACTS

THE AUTO-HATER GIVES HIS OPINION — AND ACTS (PDF)

For maximum effect, imagine this in the voice of Andy Rooney.

“There goes another of the infernal things!” snarled the man waiting for a car as he stamped his heels against the curb.

“Notice that!” he growled, addressing nobody in particular. “See how those fenders are put on an automobile? They’re on an angle, so that all the mud they throw will just reach the sidewalk. Somebody’s figured it all out, so that a fender is on just the right angle to get as much mud as possible on a man’s trouser legs when he’s waiting on the curb for a car. When people used to drive buggies and carriages they didn’t have the fenders on at an angle. It wouldn’t have done much good anyhow, because people didn’t drive horses more than fifteen or twenty miles an hour through town, and the drivers couldn’t succeed in splashing much mud on people.

Leave a comment

Written by David

September 8th, 2011 at 10:00 am

The Neglected Possibilities Of City Roofs

From August 27, 1911

THE NEGLECTED POSSIBILITIES OF CITY ROOFS

THE NEGLECTED POSSIBILITIES OF CITY ROOFS: Making the Best of Out-of-Door Life Is Slowly Being Learned — Comparatively Easy to Turn Roofs Into GArdens, Playgrounds and Concert Rooms. (PDF)

There have been a lot of articles about roof gardens in the New York Times over the last few years as the trend has finally caught on. But my favorite by far has to be a 2006 article about a Greenwich Village resident who built a whole front porch on his roof. Go check out the photos. Pretty nice.

One comment

Written by David

August 26th, 2011 at 9:30 am

How We Look To The Young Woman Back Of The Desk In The Library

From August 20, 1911

HOW WE LOOK TO THE YOUNG WOMAN BACK OF THE DESK IN THE LIBRARY

HOW WE LOOK TO THE YOUNG WOMAN BACK OF THE DESK IN THE LIBRARY: She Tells of the Queer Things We Do and the Queer Things We Say When We Go There to Get a Book. (PDF)

Ah, the librarian. In 2007 the Times noted that librarians are much hipper today than they used to be. Here’s a look at what the job was like for librarians in 1911.

She must have a sense of humor — it is absolutely necessary. She must not only see herself as others see her, she must see themselves as others see themselves.

She must be gently needleworkish with the old lady who wants a new pattern in drawn-work. She must be militantly suffragettish with the sister who wants to go to prison for the cause. She must be humble with the man who considers her a menial. She must try to act the part, since she cannot look it, when appealed to as a twenty-volume encyclopedia. She must feel a warm sympathy for all isms, she must of a working knowledge of all ologies.

She must never resent rudeness. Her prejudices, her personal tastes, her feelings must be hidden away. She must remember, always smilingly, that she is a servant of the public.

[…]

One of the most difficult demands to satisfy is the frequent request fo “a funny book.”

Now, if you have ever thought about it you know that there is no standard of funniness. Vague though it may be, we have a line above or below which a thing is god or bad as to plot, construction, style; but when it comes to the quality called humor, every man is a law unto himself. The book that one person says is “roaringly funny” another calls “deadly dull.”

A very nice person returns a book saying, “This is so funny we read it aloud, and I left the family still laughing.” Another man slams the same book down on your desk an hour after he has taken it home and cries in fiery tones, “Do you call this funny?” or “Don’t you know the difference between vulgarity and wit?” and goes out murmuring bits of the letter he is going to write the newspapers about gross misuse of the city’s money.”

Leave a comment

Written by David

August 18th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Sure Sign Of Woman’s Emancipation In The Increased Size Of Her Shoes

From July 23, 1911

SURE SIGN OF WOMAN'S EMANCIPATION IN THE INCREASED SIZE OF HER SHOES

SURE SIGN OF WOMAN’S EMANCIPATION IN THE INCREASED SIZE OF HER SHOES: Because She Swims, Walks, Plays Golf and Tennis and Works for a Living, She Can No Longer Pose as Wasp-Waisted and Tiny-Footed. (PDF)

Shoe manufacturers don’t make small-sized shoes for women any more. They say women’s feet have grown bigger in the last fifteen or twenty years. Small feet, of course, are only comparative. A small foot for a woman twenty years ago was 2 or 2½. Now it is said that there are few if any 2 or 2½ feet of narrow width, say, AA or A.

All this was revealed at a fair that the shoe manufacturers of America held in Boston about a week ago. The leading manufacturers had exhibits there, and they had observed in turn that the demand for small-size shoes for women had been declining year by year until now it had practically passed out.

One had stopped making the small shoes for women altogether. Consulting his competitor at the fair, which is an annual event with the great manufacturers, he learned that his competitor was not making the old-time small sizes either. This led to a canvass and this astonishing fact was developed:

The average size of shoes that women wear to-day is 4 to 5, whereas the average size twenty years ago was 3 to 5. The No. 2 size in women’s shoes, not uncommon twenty years ago, and almost usual twenty years before that among fashionable ladies, had entirely disappeared.

According to a 2002 article in Slate, the average women’s shoe size had gone up to 5½ in the 1940s, a 6 in the ’60s, and a 7½ in the ’70s. In the ’80s it was 8 to 8½. The article says that “the best-selling sizes at Manolo Blahnik — the Holy Grail of the shoe-obsessed — are 7.5 to 8.”

Leave a comment

Written by David

July 22nd, 2011 at 10:30 am

Posted in Life,Recreation,Sports

Business Girls’ Noonday Diversion

From July 23, 1911

BUSINESS GIRLS' NOONDAY DIVERSION

BUSINESS GIRLS’ NOONDAY DIVERSION: A Novel Amusement That Is Gaining in Popularity Downtown. (PDF)

Have you heard about the latest craze that all the business girls are doing on their lunchbreak? That’s right, they’re Ballroom Dancing.

“Gracious, May, you don’t want any ice cream; we haven’t time.”

“Yes, we have. I’ll eat it fast. It’s only 12:30. We can get in two waltzes and a two-step easy.”

This is what you are beginning to hear in downtown New York every noontime nowadays, wherever young, bright-faced “business girls” gather. For a new delight has been prepared for that energetic, youthful person. In the very heart of things, where girls in the middle of the day crowd the sidewalks as thick as roses in a rose garden, just where the jewelry, financial, insurance, and legal districts join, where now, it seems to the bystander, there are at the luncheon hour more feminine personalities than masculine, a ballroom has been provided in her behalf. She may dance, to the music of a capital orchestra, any time from 12 to 1:30.

One comment

Written by David

July 19th, 2011 at 10:00 am

For The Sightseer In New York: “There’s The Aquarium”

From July 16, 1911

FOR THE SIGHTSEER IN NEW YORK: THERE'S THE AQUARIUM

FOR THE SIGHTSEER IN NEW YORK: “THERE’S THE AQUARIUM”: Some Interesting Features, Human and Piscine, to Be Found at the Battery Park Establishment on a Sunday Afternoon. (PDF)

Amusing look at the personalities of people and animals that one can find at the city’s aquarium back when it was still in Battery Park.

Leave a comment

Written by David

July 13th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Nature,Recreation

The Giant Olympic A Luxurious Floating Hotel

From June 25, 1911

THE GIANT OLYMPIC A LUXURIOUS FLOATING HOTEL

THE GIANT OLYMPIC A LUXURIOUS FLOATING HOTEL: Swimming Pool, Turkish Baths, and Tennis Courts Part of the Equipment of the Wolrd’s Largest Liner — Marking a New Epoch in Ocean Travel. (PDF)

Of course, the Olympic wouldn’t become nearly as well known as her twin sister Titanic. Wikipedia has great details about Olympic‘s fate. She lead an interesting life, survived a mutiny, served in WWI (repainted in dazzle camouflage , and eventually retired in 1934.

Leave a comment

Written by David

June 24th, 2011 at 10:30 am

How To Celebrate “A Safe And Sane Fourth” — A Series Of Contrasts

From June 25, 1911

HOW TO CELEBRATE A SANE AND SAFE FOURTH -- A SERIES OF CONTRASTS

HOW TO CELEBRATE “A SAFE AND SANE FOURTH” — A SERIES OF CONTRASTS: The Sage Foundation Puts a Thrilling Drama of the Old-time Celebration in Moving Pictures. (PDF)

The Sage Foundation put together a movie explaining how to have fun on the Fourth of July without fireworks. Instead of lecturing about the dangers of fireworks, the movie is a “stirring drama” that still gets its message across.

Not always, when gay and frivolous youth flocks to the moving-picture show, can you say that it is going merely to pass an idle hour and watch some too-too thrilling drama of wild adventure. Sometimes the young people have their minds improved even as their pulses are stirred. And at any time now, if you happen to have inexpensive theatrical tastes and patronize the five and ten cent palaces, you are likely to see a fine new addition to the sort of thing the big firms advertise as educational drama, nothing less than a plea for a “safe and sane Fourth” staged in such fashion as to attract good folk who positively refuse to read circulars, pamphlets, or any pages of the magazines that aren’t fiction.

It is a good idea and well carried out. There is no prosy argument in favor of the abolition of the insidious cannon cracker and the fatal pin-wheel. There is a stirring drama of love and danger, with a moral attached so cleverly that the audience has swallowed it before the fact that they are being educated up to a new idea has come to cloud their enjoyment. It is an idea of the Sage foundation, and when last accounted for it was doing well over the whole moving-picture circuit.

The article goes on to describe the film. If you’re even thinking about playing with dangerous fireworks this year, you should really give the article a read.

Leave a comment

Written by David

June 24th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Recreation

What Is The Most Beautiful Spot In New York?

From June 18, 1911

WHAT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SPOT IN NEW YORK?

WHAT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SPOT IN NEW YORK? Well Known Artists Express Their Preferences and Show an Astonishing Lack of Unanimity, No Two Selecting the Same Place — But They Upset the Popular Opinion That Skyscrapers Are Ugly. (PDF)

What’s the most beautiful spot in New York City? Answers in this article from a variety of artists include The Ramble in Central Park, Madison Square Park, Broad Street in the financial district, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

What do you think is the city’s most beautiful spot?

One comment

Written by David

June 15th, 2011 at 10:15 am

Two New Medicines Discovered In The Tropic Toad

From June 4, 1911

TWO NEW MEDICINES DISCOVERED IN THE TROPIC TOAD

TWO NEW MEDICINES DISCOVERED IN THE TROPIC TOAD: Science Upholds the Ancients in Therapeutic Use o the Toadskin and Powdered Toad, Thus Turning the Laugh on Modern Doctors (PDF)

For more recent information on toads, and the hallucinogenic properties of smoked toads, see the wikipedia entry on psychoactive toads,

Leave a comment

Written by David

June 3rd, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Recreation,Science