Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Fourth of July Parade – 1910s style


In 1941, long-time Hastings resident Stephen Zebrock wrote a column for the Hastings News called “Main Street Through the Years.” In this column, he set down everything he could remember about his childhood in Hastings in the late 1910s. This week, we thought you might like to read what Stephen wrote about Fourth of July parades. (The photographs that illustrate this post are from the 1914 parade. For more information, click on a specific photograph.)

“Parades were really an event in our lives. A Fourth of July parade would have every kid in the village agog for weeks in advance. Who would march in it? Which band would lead? Where would they start? Ann and I and Margaret and Emma Rimar would awake at six A.M. actually waiting! Finally at eight o’clock or so we’d rush downstairs, wash up, dress, and dash out into the front yard.

My father had built a large picket fence insuring privacy and also a box-seat view of any Main Street proceedings. A hundred precautions to keep our clothes clean, and we’d finally hear distant drums beating…. The parade was coming! Across Warburton Avenue Bridge, we could see the gaily-colored stream of people marching toward us. There they were—going up Main Street.

Look! There’s Louie [Zebrock, Stephen’s older brother], and Steve Snyder, Joe Meyer, and other members of Hastings Brass Band. There too was Mr. [John] Prince, Kitty’s father. Next came Capt. [William] Cronell, looking like a general out of a history book, at the head of our police force. Then came the school children (no one under the fifth grade was allowed to march) all decked out in their finest, all the girls showing their newly-made curls (after a night of torture). …


Next in line came some of the teachers. I recognized Miss [Kate] Crane, Miss [Agnes] McLave, Laura Caffyn, Mae Devery, Emma Van Nostrand, Grace Harlow, Margaret Waldbillig, Grace Sylvester, Mary Toole, Miss Senn (my teacher) and Mr. Peters, the Manual Training teacher. Our new principal, Mr. [H.H.] Murphy, lead this contingent. Following the teachers came some of our well-known and most popular citizens: A.W. Bevers, C.C. Delanoy, John Lawler, Jas. Magee, Dr. H.C. Sherman, Frederick Zinsser [owner of Zinsser Chemical Company on the waterfront], Dr. W.J. Doerfler, Louis Limekiller, and Nicholas Cook.

The Hastings Girl Scouts following the Boy Scouts took a round of applause. The Hungarian, Russian, Italian, Irish, and other local societies were well-represented, their native flags side by side with the American Flag.

About this time my mother would leave the kitchen to join Aunt Vera, Uncle John, my father, Mr. and Mrs. Szabo, and, generally, the proprietor of our home, Mr. Wagner, and his family. The parade stretched on, there were four or five different kinds of bands—from Uniontown, the Manor, from ‘the Juvenile Home’ up the Hill, and at least two or three brass bands. Finally, only a gang of kids trailed by…. The parade was over.

At the holiday spread, the one topic of conversation was the parade. “Didn’t Captain Cronell look dignified. Didn’t our Louis play better than all the rest? Wasn’t Mildred Young pretty in that girl scout uniform. Bill Hogan looked like a real captain. And the new dress on Kathlyne Collins! Mr. Zinsser looked like a Major in that uniform. And did you notice Dr. Doerfler marching?” This was a sample of the talk around the dinner table. We didn’t know whether to eat or talk. After all, didn’t everyone in the village turn out? And hadn’t people come for miles just to see our parade? Darn tootin! A parade in Hastings was an event in those days.”

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