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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Anniversary Levee Tonight!


The Historical Society is holding a "C" dinner tonight at the Town Hall. There was a nice write-up in yesterday's Eagle-Tribune.

Briefly, the dinner is a recreation of a "levee" held back on this date in 1892. A levee, according to the Dictionary of American Regional English[R 427 DIC v.III], is an old-fashioned word, chiefly used in New England:
A formal or fashionable social event, often held in someone's honor: a less formal social gathering, often held as a fundraiser.

In 1892, for an admission price of 40 cents, you got a "C Supper Bill of Fare," i.e., all the food began with the letter "C." Some of the items served were clam chowder, cranberry pie, chicken, cheese, crabapple tarts, and coffee and Chinese tea. Tonight, the price is still 40 cents, but you are asked to bring a confection, otherwise known as a dessert. Tonight's dishes will be chili, corn chowder, chicken, etc. I'm planning on bringing a cherry something for dessert (nothing like waiting until the last minute to decide).

I checked two online inflation calculators to see what 40 cents would be in today's prices. One calculated the cost would be $9.12, the other estimated the cost at $8.65.

Not only was there food, but there was entertainment back in 1892--"Richard Carle, Comedian of Boston," and there was a "guess cake, spider's web, and many other attractions." The spider's web has me intrigued! I'll have to ask the Historical Society's members if they know what it was.

a 1903 poster of one of Carle's shows


Richard Carle was a renown comic actor. You can find him mentioned this old volume from our theater section: A Pictorial History of the American Theatre, 1900-1956 by Daniel Blum [792.09 BLU].

Here's a portion of an New York Times review of the musical play, Mary's Lamb from 1908:
Mr. Richard Carle has a whimsical personality; moreover, he knows how to make the most of it...
Carle wrote the book, music, lyrics, and both staged, and starred, in the play! Carle finished out his career as a vaudeville performer and appeared in many silent and talking films. (If you'd like to learn more about vaudeville, we have a fabulous book called No Applause, Just Throw Money, Or, The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous: A High-Class, Refined Entertainment by Trav S.D. [792.7 TRA].)

The bottom of the 1892 Levee flyer had this warning: "If very stormy the Levee will be the first fair evening of the next week." We have a storm moving in tonight! Some things never change...

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