Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
The second week of July 1935 brought another round of traveling actors to New England’s numerous summer stock theaters (or town halls or barns, or whatever happened to serve as a theater in those golden months between mud and snow).
Most of the players on stage were unknowns then and continued to be unknown, but a few, like character actress Mary Wickes, who appeared in a supporting role in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in John Willard’s mystery “The Cat and the Canary”, would become familiar to moviegoers in the coming decades.
Down in Westport, Connecticut, stage veteran Ina Claire wowed first-nighters in “Ode to Liberty” by Sidney Howard, in which she had appeared on Broadway the year before. The New York Times critic noted, “Miss Claire received an ovation at each curtain.”
Ina Claire appeared in very few movies, but you may remember her as Dorothy McGuire’s mother in “Claudia” (1943), and playing opposite Greta Garbo in “Ninotchka” (1939) as The Duchess Swana. She began her career in vaudeville, working her way up to the Ziegfeld Follies. Summer stock in Connecticut wasn’t too good for her.
Over in Cohasset, Massachusetts, a comedy “Meet the Prince” by A.A. Milne, who is probably more familiar to most people as the author of the “Winnie-the-Pooh” stories, played to a capacity audience.
Down in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, the Town Hall was the venue for the drama “As Husband’s Go”, where, according to The New York Times, “The cast received numerous curtain calls.”
Over in Branford, Connecticut, the Stony Creek Players performed “Tea for Three”. Up in Skowhegan, Maine, Frankie Thomas of Hollywood B-movies and the future “Tom Corbett, Space Cadet” on TV played in “Remember the Day” with the Lakewood Players. One of the auspicious members of the audience that evening was Humphrey Bogart.
It was an era when staying at home on a summer evening shut up in air conditioning was not favored, and not possible. The summer dress, the white trousers, the straw hats were donned and each newcomer to the audience was announced by the slap of the screen door in the back of the house (or barn, or town hall, or tent) where they sold tickets.
Even more telling and poignant, is that The New York Times gave space to summer stock performers and audiences in small towns in New England that warm second week of July 1935.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
This past weekend the special Amtrak exhibit train rolled into Union Station in Springfield, Massachusetts. There are six more scheduled stops throughout New England this summer, so if you missed this event, you’ll have many more chances to see it.
Union Station - New Haven, Connecticut: July 16-17.
Union Station - New London, Connecticut: July 23-24.
Amtrak Station - Providence, Rhode Island: July 30-31.
South Station - Boston: August 6-7.
Depot Avenue - Freeport, Maine: August 13-14.
Main Street - Burlington, Vermont: August 20-21.
have a look at this website.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
It seems a long way out, the Saybrook Breakwater Light, also known as the Outer Light, but it’s only about 3,000 feet from the Lynde Point Light we discussed in this previous post.
Placed here in a sandbar, later linking to the shore with a stone jetty, the Outer Light was established in June, 1886. One of its most memorable events was when lighthouse keeper Sidney Gross noticed a sudden breeze from the southeast on the afternoon of September 21, 1938, perhaps one of the first New Englanders to catch a warning sign (utterly without knowing it) of the horrific Hurricane of 1938, discussed in a three-part series, beginning here.
The hurricane took much away from the Connecticut coast that afternoon, but left the Outer Light tower.
The light was automated in 1959. For more on the Saybrook Breakwater Light or Outer Light, have look at this website.