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Chautauqua (again)


By 1910, about the date of this postcard, the Chautauqua pavilion at the Fennimore county fairgrounds had been established for twenty-five or thirty years and the festival it represented had become a summer staple. The Agincourt Street Railway Co. extended a spur line to the fair grounds in 1909-1910 for easier access. Attendance on a still Sunday afternoon might have looked like the crowd shown at Winfield, Kansas.

The after-church Sunday dinner had been shared by the family, the newspaper read, callers received and offered refreshments. By three or four in the afternoon, still dressed in their best, the family walked a block to the trolley stop. The waived at friends enjoying the afternoon on their screened porches and waited for the car, due at ten after and twenty to the hour. On the crowded car, men stood to offer their seats to women and young children; the windows were open to enjoy the little breeze there was. Conversations varied: business, crops, sport, a newborn or a death in the family, visitors from out of town.

Depending where you lived in town, the trip might take five minutes or twenty-five, but it cost just a nickel; children rode free on Sunday. When the car turned left at the Normal College and approached the trestle over the Muskrat, hats were adjusted and the car glided to a stop at the NITC transit shelter, where a sandwich board announced the afternoon and evening programs.

Just how many years did this pleasant ritual endure into the 20th century? The Great War registered as just a blip, but the Depression was another matter. Howard needs to find someone to write that history before its ethos is forgotten.


1 Comment

  1. […] by Frederick Delius. See also: American Passtime (which has one too many “s”) and Chautauqua (part 1) and Chautauqua (part 2) about another 19th century cultural institution often linked with […]

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