Saturday, August 21, 2010

July 4th Parade

July 4, 1902 Parade down main street in Pembina, ND (courtesy of State Archives of North Dakota collection)
I have written about the Pembina July 4th celebrations of old here before. But I never knew St. Vincent also at one time had its own Independence Day festivities.1

Below is a recounting of the 4th of July celebrations in St. Vincent in 1909, as recounted by one J. A. Noyes2, Deputy Collector of Customs, for the St. Vincent New Era...
Where the parade began...
The Parade
(Kindly reported by Deputy Collector Noyes)

The Fourth of July parade as a part of St. Vincent's big celebration was a pronounced success. It was composed of various beautiful floats, several bands of calithumpians3, a number of beautifully decorated carriages and exhibits of farm machinery.

The procession formed at the school house and was led by Mr. President of the day W.J. Mason accompanied by Hon. Mr. Blethen, the Orator. These were followed by the Pembina band which dispensed patriotic music during the entire parade.

The Goddess of Liberty appeared next in the person of Miss Laura Billes being drawn by her Shetland pony hitched to the pony trap. This feature deserves special notice, as the pony harness, trap and the Goddess were all draped in white, the emblem of purity and presented a beautiful appearance.

The Columbia float came next. This contained Columbia, represented by Miss Margurette Cowan, who was surrounded by forty-nine young ladies and girls, dressed in white, each carrying a flag representing the states and territories. The flat was draped in white and drawn by four white horses, driven by Mr. A. Darrach.

Yes, this is a photo of the actual St. Vincent
Bank; written on the windows are the words,
"Farm Loans, Insurance, Real Estate..."

- Photo courtesy of the Gamble Family

Immediately following this came the float of the St. Vincent Bank, this consisted of a raised platform on a wagon beautifully draped with the colors of the day, carrying fifteen little girls dressed in white and laden with wreaths of wild roses; this was one of the beauty spots of the parade.

One feature of the calithumpians that attracted a great deal of attention was a dark complexioned couple, Frankie Buekly and Irvine Hanson, being drawn by a pony hitched to an outlandish low wheeled cart elaborately draped with wisps of hay and appropriate material. Frankie is deserving of much credit as we are informed the idea was his as well as the work of building and decorating the cart.

Mr.  was represented by Charles Kimberly, appearing in clown's costume, pushing a cart appropriately trimmed in green, and containing his little brother suitably dressed for the occasion.

Another pretty feature was six little boys, Harold Taylor, Jay Benuett, Sammy Lapp, Allen Gamble, Harvey Hanson, and Omen Dean, hitched to a finely decorated cart and driven by little Innis Taylor, followed by George Gillespie, Leo and Elmer Arnes, and Dicky Lapp as a body guard.

The colored band4 was another very laughable feature. This band consisting of Gordie Edkins, Dan and George Gooselaw and Roy Russell, under the able leadership of Percy Edkins will no doubt be heard from again.

Other featured of the celebration will be given next week.
Alas, I do not have access to the rest of the story; to my knowledge editions of the St. Vincent New Era for 1909 are not available, even on microfilm. But I'm thankful we could at least hear about this much; it opens a window into another time, a different way of life, and even some different ways of thinking (not all of them positive...) Thank you, Maggie!

July 4th Parade in Pembina (1902)
1 - Recently, I attended the Gamble Family Reunion, where one of the family gave me a copy of the "Maggie Book". I had seen it once before a couple of years ago when I met this Gamble descendant, Alice Jablonski; Alice had the book with her and let me take a quick peek. I could tell even from a glance that it was a treasure trove of information, consisting of clippings, mainly newspapers such as early St. Vincent New Era articles, concerning stories about family members but also area events. During the reunion Alice handed me a manila envelope of various items she wanted me to have, including a high-quality photocopy (many pages in color) of the Maggie Book. I was thrilled! This post came as a result of one of those newsclippings.

2 - J. A. Noyes, the first Deputy Collector of Customs at the U. S./Canadian port of entry at Noyes, MN (named for him)

NOTE: The officers of the Custom House worked for the Collector of Customs. The Collector was assisted by the Deputy Collector, who was mainly responsible for the record keeping in the port.

3 - Calathumpian: Huge, spectacular event or performance. (Canadian archaic) Example: That was one calathumpian parade!

4 - "Colored Band", aka a marching band (often in black-face) performing minstrel type songs, now a relic of a time when racial stereotyping was acceptable entertainment.