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In October the Centennial Celebration explores entertainment in 1914 

Our celebration of one hundred years of library service continues this month with a look at entertainment as it was in 1914. Vaudeville was a wildly popular form of amusement. Featured performers of diverse talents, from vocalists and comedians to acrobats and animal acts, often appeared on the same bill. Headliners included Al Jolson, The Three Keatons, Eva Tanguay, The Four Marx Brothers, and Harry Houdini. Moving picture shows were in their infancy, but iconic film roles were introduced that year by Charlie Chaplin, who starred in The Tramp, and Pearl White, who made her debut as Pauline in the Perils of Pauline series. Theatre productions such as Irving Berlin’s Watch Your Step, and The Queen of the Movies, were shining on the Great White Way, and Vernon and Irene Castle, who appeared on Broadway as well as in silent films, popularized ballroom dancing through their 1914 bestselling book, Modern Dancing. 

Locally, opportunities for entertainment abounded. There were three theaters in town, the Orpheum, the Temple, and the Airdome, which offered moving pictures as well as plays, concerts, and vaudeville acts.  Redpath Chautauqua, a traveling exposition of music, theatre, lectures, dramatic readings, and children’s programs, made its annual weeklong stop here. The Young Buffalo Wild West Show came to entertain locals in 1914, as did the Sun Brothers Circus, while the Riverfront Water Carnival featured swimming and diving competitions which drew a large crowd of spectators. Dances, a popular diversion of the day, were often held at the Armory, or for the cost of a ferry ride couples could travel to Fruitport Pavilion where every Tuesday and Saturday a five-piece orchestra accompanied them in the waltz, tango, half and half, and two-step. In March of 1914, Grand Haven’s scenic shores were used as the back drop for the film Sparks of Fate, produced by Essanay Films out of Chicago. Grand Havenites crowded the beach to watch Francis Bushman and Ruth Stonehouse rehearse their lines for this tale of “two men and a girl and a battle by wireless." (Sadly, the film no longer exists. September 1914 issue of Motography and November 1914 issue of Photoplay detail the script and contain the only extant "stills" from the film.)


October Centennial Programs

Buster Keaton: What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Wednesday, October 1 at 7:00 p.m.
Local historian Ron Pesch presents the story of Keaton's days along the Lake Michigan shore at an actor’s colony founded by his father. The Keatons first visited the city of Muskegon in 1902 and called a section of the city known as Bluffton home until Buster became a movie star.
Ragtime Pianist Matthew Ball, Sunday, October 12 at 2:00 pm

 Ragtime, Blues & Boogie-Woogie pianist Matthew Ball presents an exciting and fun American Roots program for all ages! It includes arrangements of classic American songs like Swanee River, Over the Rainbow, The Entertainer, Sheik of Araby, Bumble Boogie, Cow Cow Blues, and many more. You won’t want to miss this family-friendly event of toe-tapping fun! 

The Story of Vernon and Irene CastleThursday, October 23 at 7:00 pm

Join us for a screening of this 1939 musical comedy starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, which tells the story of Vernon and Irene Castle, two early innovators of ballroom dance, popular in the 1910s. 

100 Years Ago in Grand Haven


1 – Beautiful autumn wedding solemnized in Spring Lake when Geraldine Hopkins weds Adiel Dodge of Chicago.  Death in Holland of Nicholas J. Essenberg, Republican candidate for country treasurer.  Marriage in Agnew of Elsie Pofohl and Fred Correll.

2 – Woman’s Club opens season.  Arthur Kieft of Holland arrested for larceny, attempts suicide in Holland jail.

3 – Albert Stone, unknown insane man taken to Kalamazoo.  Muskegon defeats Grand Haven high 74 to 0.

4 – Peace services in churches of city.

5 – Death in Chicago of former mayor James Cook of Zeeland.

7 – Republican county committee selects Fred Gordon as candidate for county treasurer after 14 ballots.  Marriage of Fannie A. Harris and Oscar W. Peterson.

8 – Marriage of Sarah Ott to Henry Strahsburg of Detroit.

10 – Rockford defeats G. H. 18 to 3.  Marriage in Milwaukee of Eleanor Lucy Biggar and Alfred W. Kuhn.

11 – Tragic event on Grand River.  George A. Baker, locomotive engineer of Grand Rapids, shot and killed by his friend, Charles Nagel, near Robinson Farm Resort.

12 – Henry J. Elliston, aged 90, and Ida E. Segar, aged 65, licensed to wed

13 – Death of Pearl Florence Regelin.  Stephen Trinker, one of the tenders of the Grand Trunk bridge at Ferrysburg, drowned in river.  William Walsh suicide at Berlin.

14 – Marriage of Richard Roossein and Anna Singerling.

16 – So-called “B” burglars raid stores in this city and Spring Lake.  Thirty-fourth anniversary of the loss of the steamer Alpena.

17 – London damp hovers over this section.  For seven consecutive days the sun does not shine.  Benton Harbor defeats Grand Haven 30 to 7.  Marriage in Bovill, Idaho. of John Scott Jr. and Anna Benson

19 – Death of Mrs. Frank Kieft.

20 – Marriage in Spring Lake of Helen Strang and Earl VanDyke.

21 – Marriage in Chicago of George E. Dennis and Mrs. Fred McBain of Grand Rapids  Death of Frederick Dornbos of Spring Lake.

22 – Marriage of Priscilla E. Christman and Milton M. Morse.

24 – G. H. defeats G. R. Central Reserves 27 to 0.

25 – Tigers defeat Grand Rapids Jeffersons 13 to 0.  H. E. Waxted, who had been working in this city, is found mangled on Pere Marquette tracks near Harlem.

26 – First snow of the season.  Senator Townsend and Congressman Mapes address Republican gathering here.

28 – New charter discussed in meeting at armory.  Death in Muskegon of MRs. E. Bauman.

30 – Annual night shirt parade of high school students.  Steamer Conestoga badly burned in Milwaukee.  Edward P. Cummings of Lansing elected president of Michigan State Teachers’ Association.

31 –Holland high defeats G. H. 25 to 7.  Gov. Ferris addresses great meeting here.  Close of the warmest October in 14 years.  Burning of the old Kilbourn cooper shop.  Marriage of George G. Rankins and Mrs. Celestine M. Babcock.

--Research by Elizabeth Potter, Loutit District Library Local History Department




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