Entertainment Recreation

On the Lighter Side

Did you ever wonder what your ancestors did for entertainment? While reading and transcribing and translating Polish news articles, I’m coming across a wonderful treasure trove of information that gives some insight on what residents in Toledo’s Polonia did for relaxation and entertainment before television, computers, movies, and even cars.

From the Ameryka w Kuryer Clevelandski 29 June 1895, announcements of summer trips and picnics:

It is said that Poles from both St. Anthony and St. Hedwig intend to organize picnics soon.

On July 14, there will be a huge picnic on Put-in-Bay Island. It would be worthwhile for Polish societies to organize a joint trip to this island. The editors of Ameryka will be happy to help.

On July 4, Polish school children will have a picnic on the farm behind the cemetery. (This is referring to Calvary Cemetery, which was originally farmland and this likely referred to the land on which St. Francis de Sales High School and its stadium are located.)

From Ameryka 11 March 1893, an article describing a concert:

Last Monday, a concert by Elvin Singer under the aegis of the Women’s Club took place in the Memorial Hall. The pianist was supposed to be Miss Nellie Cook, but due to weakness, she could not be present at the concert. Its place was taken by Miss A. Bernowicz, a first-class pianist and singer, who recently came from Europe. The program started with the “Estudiantina” quartet performed by Miss Chase and Noteman and Messrs E. Singer and Wuerfel. A solo singing of “Dio Possente, Dio D’Amor” was performed by Mr. Seubert, a melodic baritone, although in low tones a bit suffocating. The singing, however, was received by the audience with thunderous applause. The next number, was performed by Miss Bernowicz on the piano. She played La Fileuse by Raffa with such a passion that the audience went to the limits of ecstasy. The second number she performed was Romance by Rubenstein. After a short while, the local audience favorite, Elvin Singer, a tenor, appeared on the stage. His singing was received by he audience with thunderous applause and forced the artist to perform again. It would be superfluous to praise Mr. Singer. Those who have heard his rich tenor sonorous voice enjoy his established reputation.

After Mr. Singer, Mr. Brandt performed on stage and played a violin solo of the Legend of Wieniawski, which amazed the audience. When the artist began to extract sweet voices from the strings of the violin, the stars of the song, he held his breath in his chest, and when the grief of the tones turned into a painful note, there was no person who would not cry himself. The next number of the concert was performed by Miss Chase, soprano, singing “My Song” and “Serenade.” Miss Bernowicz performed Concert Etude and Mr. Singer “Lend Me Your Aid” by Gounod. The concert ended with Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucy di Lammermoore. We then heard one more masterpiece, which was the Second Mazurka Fantasie performed by Mr. J. Zielinski, and was composed specifically for Miss Cook.

They even wrote and told very funny jokes. From the Ameryka 18 March 1893, a story titled “At the Magician’s Show.”

Magician: Dear Audience, here is a great trick. Just check it out! Here is a lady sitting on the table. I cover her with a sack. One. Two. Three. I now take off the sack. The lady is gone!

Someone from the audience: Dear Sir, could I ask you to try such a trick with my wife?

One more funny story joke from Ameryka 13 July 1895, titled “In a Railway Car.”

Daughter: Momma, do you know that young gentleman who just got off? He kissed me when the train ran through the dark tunnel.

Mother: My God! Why did you not tell me about it sooner?

Daughter: I thought there would be a second tunnel!