New Year’s 1919 low-key

Posted Dec. 31, 2008, at 7:06 p.m.

In keeping with the sober mood of the times, although the Armistice ending World War I had been signed on Nov. 11, celebrations on New Year’s Eve 1918, and New Year’s Day 1919, were low key and did not receive much notice in the Bangor Daily News. That doesn’t mean, however, that merriment wasn’t around or that no one showed up to have a good time.

The Graphic Theatre advertised the comedy, “Tell It to the Marines,” along with a special added attraction, the official pictures of the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet to the Allied North Sea Fleet.

The Bijou Theatre touted “The Very Idea,” a farce that had “made Broadway laugh for 42 weeks and it ought to get a broad smile from Bangor.”

Also at the Bijou was Harry Lauder and his “famous band of bagpipers,” scheduled to give several performances. “His aid in the Liberty Loan and other drives was invaluable,” publicity in advance of the show stated.

“Mr. Lauder believes there should be no relaxation in the work on behalf of the soldiers and also for the poverty-stricken people of France and Belgium. He did wonderful work during the war in these countries with the boys in the front line trenches, cheering them up and entertaining them all along the battle fronts.”

And at the Park Theatre, actress Elsie Ferguson wowed audiences in the film “Under the Greenwood Tree,” in which she portrayed a privileged English woman who gives up wealth, temporarily of course, to live the life of a gypsy until her true love came along.

Residents were invited to “Skate the old year out and the new one in at The Auditorium,” where Victory Helmets would be given to the first 144 skaters.

The “big band organ” provided all new music and roller skating continued until five minutes past midnight.

The Bowlodrome Roller Rink offered a similar good time, its advertisement stating, “It’s the best kind of exercise, it helps make one graceful and is a most excellent remedy for stomach sag.”

Three balls were held on New Year’s Eve 1918: at the A.O.H. Hall with admission of 35 cents for gents, 25 cents for ladies, and “no war tax” applied; at the Bangor Grange Hall, preceded by a supper; and at City Hall after the annual exhibition given by the pupils of Mrs. Rosanna Odiorne — “the affair was brilliant and the pupils most gracefully executed every step,” stated a Bangor Daily News review.

After the pupils floated through The Dance of the Leaves and other floral-themed numbers, “music by Pullen’s Orchestra drew more than 400 couples to the floor and as the clock struck midnight an immense spotlight threw its glow over the merry throng and the happy dancers were dancing in 1919. The hall was decorated prettily and the confetti throwing was a hit.” Dancing continued until 1 a.m.

In Brewer, it was reported, New Year’s Day was not observed, generally speaking, as a holiday and there were no celebrations of any kind to welcome the New Year in that town.

It was business as usual in Brewer, especially for women involved in the war effort: “The Red Cross rooms in the Carter building will be open for sewing today. [Ed. note: The sewing was for the needs of soldiers, especially those who had been wounded]. A large attendance is desired for there is a great deal of work to be completed as soon as possible. People are asked to take sewing home to finish to help hurry the order along. Those who have begun knitting articles are requested to finish them but begin no more, and return the leftover yarn to the rooms as soon as possible. The orders to cease knitting have come from headquarters and so the allotment from Brewer will not be required. [Ed. note: Apparently, a cessation of hostilities also meant a cessation of knitting for the troops, but pajamas for hospitalized soldiers were still needed — hence the sewing.]

Mrs. Fannie H. Eckstorm, who has been superintendent of the workrooms for several months and was the organizer and chairwoman of the Brewer unit when it was an independent chapter, has resigned her position beginning with the New Year. She has done invaluable work in the Red Cross organization and has devoted the greater part of her time and strength to the cause. Her resignation will be accepted with regret and a vote of appreciation will be extended to her.”

But everywhere in the Bangor area, residents must have been relieved to know that 1919 was the beginning of the first year after the Great War and that “the boys” were coming home.

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