Christmas, 1906 in Wayne – Wayne Public Safety, Bryn Mawr Hospital

In last week’s column we saw in retrospect Wayne of 25 years ago at its Christmas season. This week your columnist would like to give you a Wayne Christmas time of 50 years ago as it was at the turn of the century. But the files of “The Suburban” cover the years back only to 1906, since precious records were destroyed in the fire of that year in the “Suburban” office when it was located where the Buick agency now has its showroom. Then, as now, A. M. Ehart was president of our home town weekly, while C. H. Stewart was secretary and treasurer. So we go back to December of 44 years ago.

It was, according to an editorial placed on the front page, ” a season of good cheer; the season which seems to bring men into closer touch, one with the other. The spirit of peace and of good fellowship is in the air”. In this “prettiest suburb, perhaps in the world”, to quote from a Wayne Estate advertisement of that period, “local stores have taken on a holiday appearance . . . the grocery establishments particularly have been handsomely decorated . . . the assistants at the local railroad station are more than busy these days, preceding the holidays, but keep on smiling as they handle the hundreds of pieces which come to Wayne and St. Davids each day.”

Those of us who think that early Christmas shopping is an innovation of the past few years would be surprised to read in the November 30th edition of “The Suburban” that “by now big stores are almost as crowded as they usually are a few days before Christmas, many people having been struck by the idea that Christmas shopping should be done early.” Motorized delivery service was even then in effect, as there is a small news item to the effect that the automobile delivery wagon of Lit Brothers and Snellenburg’s was stranded in North Wayne and had to be towed back to the city. The volume of Christmas business at the Wayne Post Office broke all records, and “the clerks and four carriers were kept on the jump for four days preceding the holidays . . . carriers kept at it until noon on Christmas Day.” After Christmas “The Suburban” noted: “Some Christmas trees about town were very handsome and there were more than usual.”

In the Wayne churches, some of the Christmas services were held on Christmas Day, which fell on Tuesday in 1906, although most of them took place on the preceding Sunday. At St. Katharine’s the Rev. Joseph F. O’Keefe, assisted by the Rev. Francis Tourscher began Masses at 5 o’clock Christmas morning . . . the choir under the direction of Miss Hobson sang Gounod’s “Convent Mass”. Even then St. Mary’s was holding its Christmas Eve services with the celebration of Holy Communion coming at one minute past midnight. There were also services luring Christmas morning. In the Wayne Presbyterian Church Dr. Patton presided at both the morning and evening services on the Sunday preceding Christmas in a church “beautifully decorated with evergreen and suitable emblems”. On Christmas Eve the King’s Daughters of the church with a number of friends, visited the Cathcart Home in Devon, to give the patients at the home their usual Christmas entertainment. Each patient was presented with a “Sunshine Bag”.

In the Methodist Church the Rev. Samuel Thompson preached on Sunday morning with a special musical program by the choir. In the First Baptist Church the Rev. J. C. Pierce delivered the Christmas sermon. Here, too, was special music. The Rev. David Solly was the minister at the Central Baptist were there was special music by the choir with a violin soloist. At four o’clock there were special children’s exercises, followed by Baptism.

Under the heading of “Getting Shorter” the Safford Store ran a large advertisement on December 14 explaining that what was “shorter” was “the time in which to make your holiday purchases. Just now every one ins studying and racking their brains trying to think of what to buy for Christmas”. Suggestions on the part of the storekeeper included “elegant new shirt-waists . . . in black from a very good quality of lawn at 50 cents, to a fine sateen waist at $1.25 to $2.00 . . . elegant embroidered waists at $1.25, $1.50 and $2.50. There were kid gloves at $1.00–pairs of blankets at $1.00 and $1.25. Among the Christmas gift suggestions at Levine’s were side-combs, knit shawls, fascinators, tams, comfortables, blankets, brooches. While not a Christmas special, the store also had a larger line of “buckle artics and Alaska rubber boots”.

In addition to Safford’s and Levine’s there were a number of stores in 1906 that are no longer in existence. Among them were Duff’s, which specialized in “smokers’ articles”. In the meat and grocery line there were T. T. Worrall and Sons, Hobson’s, L. V. Hale’s, D. D. Mancill and the Columbia Tea House.

Turkeys were selling for 25 and 27 cents per pound, roasting chickens were 18 cents; stewing chickens 16 cents; prime roast beef and spring lamb, both 18 cents; country scrapple, 7 cents. “Strictly fresh eggs” were 35 cents per dozen, better 42 cents, coffee 25 cents, Florida oranges 25 cents per dozen. Whitman’s candies ranged in prices from 25 cents for “a good chocolate mixture” to 80 cents for a “super mixture”. Frank Adelberger advertised as “Headquaters for Xmas Greens”. Etchingham Brothers and Arthur Lanser also sold them.

Among Wayne’s organizations that held meetings that year in December were the Masonic Lodge, which elected Charles H. Howson as Worshipful Master. After the meeting they adjourned to the Saturday Club, where dinner was served by the caterer Gruber. J. W. Cooper acted as toastmaster. The Wayne Public Safety had just changed its meeting times from quaterly to monthly ones. Joseph A. Ball was president, L. H. Watt, vice-president, and Dr. C. D. Smedley, secretary-treasurer. A meeting of the Board of Township Commissioners for December brought out the Messrs. Sayen, Ellis, Geyelin, Hart and Treat. Charles F. Da Costa was solicitor and C. H. Stewart secretary. The Saturday Club was featuring such early January programs as a lecture by Theodore Grayson, of Wayne, on “Famous Women of the French Revolution” and book reviews by Mrs. William B. Riley, also a Wayne resident.

The Bryn Mawr Hospital annual report showed that 463 patients had been admitted during the year, 201 operations performed “of which 196 were successful”. Old Whitehall railroad station had just been leased by the hospital for a three year period, following a case of small pox. Radnor Hunt Club figured weekly in the news, 40 members having ridden in the Christmas Chase.

Bits of local news under “Here and Hereabouts”, a column still in existence forty-four years later, were that the Philadelphia and Western Railroad, although practically completed, could not operate until the new elevated railroad in Philadelphia was built. Seven big automobiles had gone along Lancaster avenue on a recent Sunday to inspect the course for the race to be run between Philadelphia and Harrisburg . . . “no machine to be permitted to exceed 20 m. p. h.” In December there had been three arrests in the Township for violators of automobile ordinances and two for failure to display lights on vehicles . . . coachman Clark, driver for Charles S. Walton, was on a runaway on Conestoga road, and the horse reached North Wayne before he was stopped. “To meet the demands of his increasing business” Richard Quigley was building a larger addition to his blacksmith and wheelwright shop on Plant avenue.

And this, briefly sketched, was Wayne in 1906.

Season’s greetings from this columnist to her readers . . . and many thanks for the almost daily expression of appreciation made to her on the part of these readers fro her attempt to make Radnor Township’s interesting history part of our present-day heritage.

Christmas, 1925 in Wayne – Wayne Musical Coterie, Anthony Wayne Theatre, “The Suburban”

Christmas, 1925 in Wayne . . .  there is no special reason to recall it except that it is just twenty-five years ago and because it is typical of the holiday time in our small suburban community of that general period. It is a pleasant time to write about because in our country there was no war, nor rumors of war. World War I was over. World War II was not even on our horizon. However, we were still trying to work out problems created by World War I as evidenced by the fact that on December 8 there had been a large community meeting at the Saturday Club to discuss the question of United States participation in the World Court. Citizens of the township who attended went on record as strongly favoring this action when the question would come before the Senate later in December.

Our beautiful Christmas tree on the Louella grounds shone forth that Christmas as it had then for several years past–on Christmas Eve there was a short community carol singing service led by Ed Hunt. Special Christmas Day services were held in many of the churches. Old St. Davids had two Holy Communion services, with Dr. Crosswell McBee officiating and with special music by Fred Godfrey. The Rev. Henry Mitchell held midnight Mass at St. Mary’s on Christmas Eve. Holy COmmunion was celebrated both at St. Martin’s Church and at the Chapel under the Rev. Richard H. Gurley. St. Katharine’s had six Masses with Mrs. David Walsh in charge of the music of the choir.

The Wayne Methodist Church had its Christmas Dawn services on the Sunday after Christmas, which fell on Friday in 1925.

The Wayne Presbyterian Church held its special Christmas services under Dr. Charles Schall and the Central Baptists held their under the Rev. Ray E. Whittemore. The young people of the Methodist Church presented “The Nativity” on Sunday evening.

The Wayne Musical Coterie held its Christmas concert on the Sunday following Christmas with Ethel Dorr McKinley as cellist; H. Velma Turner as organist and Lilian Walter as vocal soloist. The Saturday Club held its Winter Fete on December 4, an all-day affair beginning with a bazaar and ending with supper and dancing until midnight. Mrs. Walter H. Dance was then the president of the Club. The Junior Saturday Club gave two performances of the “Feast of the Lantern” on December 12.

Christmas Clubs were already financing the community’s holiday purchases. The Wayne Title and Trust, with 1046 members, paid out almost $60,000, while the Main Line National Bank, with 226 subscribers, paid out $14,000. The Police and Firemen’s Fund, sponsored by “The Suburban” realized $455.00 in 1925. Special recognition was given policemen for their protection of citizens from “vicious bandits and bootleggers”. Postmaster Charles M. Wilkins made a plea for early mailing of Christmas letters and packages.

There were many annual meetings held in Wayne that December. Wayne Lodge, No 581, at the yearly banquet, elected D. Kenneth Dickson as Worshipful Master to succeed J. Kenneth Satchell–about 40 Legionnaires of the Anthony Wayne Post met at a banquet at the Venice Cafe, with Commander C. Walton Hale acting as Toastmaster and with music by the Arch Morrison Orchestra, while Ed Hunt “led the gang in old war songs”. Philip W. Hunt succeeded Walt Hale as commander. Mrs. Virginia Park was elected president of the Post Auxiliary at its first annual meeting.

The active firemen gave a banquet at the Spread Eagle Inn “in honor of wives, sisters and sweethearts”, with Chief James K. Dunne acting as toastmaster. The Business Men’s Association held a lunch meeting at the Venice Cafe. The Annual Meeting of the Wayne Building and Loan Association showed assets of almost $1,500,000 with William T. Sentman as president. The Wayne Red Cross had just gone over the top on its Roll Call, the annual drive in which each member of the community paid one dollar! Paoli Troop 1, Boy Scouts, had adopted an extensive “work program” under its scoutmaster, Major Clifton Lisle. On Christmas Eve they went out for carol singing throughout Wayne.

At the School Board meeting Messrs. William R. Breck, Harold Haskins and Charles H. Howson were elected to membership. O. H. Wolfe was named president and Mrs. Howson vice-president. Radnor High School football heroes were feted at a banquet to mark the “glorious ending of the season”, with toastmaster T. Bayard Beatty paying tribute to “Radnor’s fighting spirit”.

The widening of Lancaster Pike had almost been completed in December, 1925. However, in places there were no sidewalks and the very pertinent question arose “who is responsible for accidents?” (Twenty-five years later there are still no sidewalks along certain stretches.) The real estate market was quite active, numerous sales being reported from week to week in “The Suburban”.

The Anthony Wayne Theatre was presenting such shows as “Riders of the Purple Sage”, with Tom Mix; “As Man Has Loved”, the William Fox “wonder picture”; “The Wrong Doers” with Lionel Barrymore; “Lightnin'”, with Jay Hunt and Madge Bellamy, and “Exchange of Wives”, a “spicy, up to the minute comedy”, with Eleanor Boardman, Lew Cody and Renee Adoree.

Food prices of 1925 are beyond the wildest dreams of 1950 housewives. Hams sold at 29 cents a pound; pork chops at 35 cents; leg of lamb at 43 cents; hamburg at 25 cents; roasting chicken at 50 cents. Oranges were 39 cents a dozen, fancy eating apples 40 cents, walnuts 29 cents a pound, cranberries 19 cents a pound. Although there were many advertisements like the one reading “extra fine lot of turkeys for your selection . . . all sizes, each one guaranteed”, no butcher was apparently willing to advertise prices in advance!

The Christmas cover of “The Suburban” for December 25 was a gay, many-colored one, showing a small boy sitting before a roaring fire, his dog beside him, his stocking hung above him. Somehow that picture seems to exemplify the quiet cheerfulness of the Christmas season twenty-five years ago–the cheer and the peaceful spirit that we wish might be ours in this Christmas season of 1950, the time of year which should mean “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men”. Far as we are from it, may that wish of this Christmas become at least the hope of Christmas, 1951.

(Two Wayne Christmases of still earlier dates will be described in succeeding columns. For the material in this column the writer is indebted to the files of “The Suburban”.)

The Old Radnor Methodist Church, part 4

“June 3, 1833. Tot he building committee of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Radnor: this is to certify that I, the undersigned, will agree to complete all the carpenter work of said building, 45 by 55 feet, with a basement story; to have 10 twelve-light windows and 12 twenty lights in each frame and no wainscot to any part of the house; for the sum of three hundred and fifty-five dollars; with fifty dollars to be paid off when the roof is on and fifty when the basement story is done and the rest when convenient.”

(Signed) Evan Lewis

This is a copy of the original carpenter’s estimate for the second Radnor Methodist Church building, the erection of which was made necessary by the growth of the congregation in the fifty years since 1783 when the first small one-story log meeting house was built on Methodist Hill on Conestoga road. This second building still stands today, looking very much as it did 117 years ago. Indeed, the present lovely structure in appearance more nearly resembles the original than the building did for some years following 1903 when the exterior walls were covered for a while with a coating of plaster.

The decision to erect this second church building was made at a meeting held May 17, 1833, by the trustees of the church, those present being James B. Ayres, the preacher; John Gyger, Jacob Gyger, Isaac James, Isaac White and William Fisher. Evidently no time was lost in construction for before the year 1833 was out, the church was dedicated, the Rev. E. L. James, who was afterwards elected Bishop, preached the dedicatory sermon. A great revival followed the opening of the new church.

Methodist Sunday Schools had their birth in America rather than in England, there being “historic proof of a number of SUnday School beginnings by the Schwenkfelders, in Bucks and Montgomery counties, Pennsylvania, in 1734”. On what date the Sunday School was organized at “Old Radnor” is not known, though an old minute book has a record of a Sunday School Association as early as 1843, which had probably then been in existence for several years. Under date of June 27, 1858, there is a memorandum in the record book to this effect, “Numbers of scholars on the list, 28; average attendance, 18. Recitations of girls, 103 hymns, 308 verses. Recitations of boys, 113 hymns, 488 verses.”

Today the Sunday school enrollment of 157 students is one of the determining factors in “Old Radnor’s decision to build an addition to their present meeting house. Besides the more than 60 students meeting in the downstairs room, there are nine classes trying to meet in groupings among the church pews. The future potential enrollment in the Sunday School is forecast at 50 per cent increase within ten years, if it is parallel with the analysis of future enrollment for the Rosemont School made by the Radnor Township School Board and based on housing developments now in progress.

In 1894 the old Humphreys parsonage, situated on the northeast corner of Lancaster and Merion avenues, which had been occupied for many years by ministers of the Radnor Circuit, was sold to Dr. William C. Powell. During the pastorate of the Rev. Jonathan Dungan, 1891-95, a new parsonage was erected at the corner of old Lancaster road and Warren avenue by a well known builder of his time, William Gray. With its original appearance little changed except that it has been much lightened by white paint, it now houses the Rev. James M. Haney and his family, just as it has continuously housed ministers of “Old Radnor” over a period of well over fifty years.

Minutes of the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Church held on April 4, 1881, tell of a plan to circulate subscription books in order to raise funds to repair the church, in anticipation of the Centennial Exercises to be held in February, 1882. At that time it was decided to rough-cast the outside and the inside of the church. The pulpit was to be lowered one step, and the windows were to be double-hung. This work was done, and at the same time the gable ends of the roof were extended so as to project in proportion to the eaves. The total cost of this work was $1631.21, all of which was paid before the day of reopening.

In 1891 stoves were removed from the church and a heater was installed in the basement. In 1903 the church was repainted on the inside as well as the outside, and electricity was introduced. The exterior walls were refinished, and ivy was planted around the building. In 1931, extensive alterations and repairs were undertaken to restore and beautify Old Radnor. Plaster, which for many years had covered the outside walls, was removed and the original stonework was pointed. A new slate roof was put on, the interior of the church redecorated and rearranged, and the roadway rebuilt. Since the old sheds to shelter horses were no longer needed, they were removed to provide parking space for automobiles. Sunday School rooms and a modern kitchen were built in the basement. All this was done at a total expense of $8,000. On Sunday, October 25, 1931, Old Radnor celebrated is one hundred and fiftieth anniversary with a service attended by more than three hundred members and friends.

A little more than two weeks ago, on Tuesday, November 14, the fund raising campaign for an addition to Old Radnor was launched. With a goal of $40,000 plans call for an addition which would serve the education and fellowship needs of the church. Already more than half that amount has been subscribed. Architects’ drawings show that the proposed addition would be to the left of the present edifice in the form a a long, low building in entire harmony, both in materials and architecture, with the lovely old church which has stood on its present site for 117 years. At first there would be but one floor, then as the need arose, a second floor could be added. Even the first floor addition, however, would provide adequate space for a Fellowship Hall, seating well over 200 people, which could be divided into class rooms by sound-proof curtains. With such a financial start, church officials anticipate an early completion of the campaign fund.

(The End)

For the material in this series on “Old Radnor”, the writer is indebted to the Rev. James M. Haney, minister, and to Mr. Herbert L. Flack, of the Building committee.

The Old Radnor Methodist Church, part 3 – Christian Conference

It was in the same year that the old Radnor Meeting House was completed – 1784 – that the celebrated Christian Conference convened in Baltimore. At this Conference the Methodist Episcopal Church was actually formed after a letter from John Wesley had been read by Bishop Thomas Coke, who had been ordained by Wesley himself. By vote of the Conference, Bishop Ashbury, who was to have much to do with the little church on Methodist Hill in Radnor, was ordained. Preachers appointed for the circuit in which Radnor was situated were Leroy Cole, Joseph Cromwell and Jeremiah Lambert.

Bishop Ashbury has been called “the first organization genius of Methodism on the American continent”. In answer to a plea made in 1771 by John Wesley for volunteers to go to America. Francis Ashbury volunteered and shortly thereafter sailed from Bristol. Soon he had methodically arranged  his route over a circuit having Philadelphia as its center. One historian states that “often his (Ashbury’s) bodily strength was exhausted or weakened by disease, yet he preached two or three times a day . . . In those early days Ashbury’s consummate wisdom in distributing preachers and in sound administration methods was invaluable. No general ever stationed his troops with greater skill”.

In 1787 Bishop Ashbury in his Journal makes his first mention of Radnor–”July 2, 1787–on Monday, spoke to a few simple hearted souls at Radnor”. And again in 1791 we find in his Journal that the good Bishop dined at Radnor a few days later on his way to Philadelphia. It was several years later, ini June, 1804, that he told in the Journal of a mishap that befell his horse, “My little Jane” as he affectionately calls her.

“Saturday, June 2, 1804–I rode through the rain to the valley, twenty-eight miles . . . On the Sabbath Day I reached Radnor. Here my little Jane was horned by a cow and lamed. She is done, perhaps, forever for me; but it may all be for the best. I am unwell and the weather is bad, but, except for my feelings for the poor beast, I am peaceful and resigned. I am able to write, but not to preach on the Sabbath.”

An entry of August 7, 1805, states that “We set out and reached Radnor. We stopped to dine with Brother Gyger, and had a serious time at prayer, in his new house, which they are about to move into. We lodged with Daniel Meredith, an old disciple, in the valley. Thursday brought us to Sandersburg.”

Preachers such as Ashbury and those he appointed for the Radnor circuit are strikingly described in the booklet commemorating the 150th anniversary of the founding of “Old Radnor”. “Let us picture the Methodist preacher of these Revolution days. He wears a ‘shad-breasted’ coat, and a low crowned hat, usually white. He is without money, and as he goes forth does not expect to find either church or salary. After journeying until both he and his horse are famished, he stops at a house and is met cordially and invited to share the frugal meal. The dinner over, he begins to speak on the subject of salvation. Some listen from curiosity. Perhaps only one shows a real interest. But he seeks an opportunity to pray, and before the prayer is ended all feel that a strange, even an awful visitor has come among them. He sings a hymn, and as the plaintive strains rise on the air, all are impressed, and the children are fascinated. In such manner, reminiscent of the apostles of old, was the nucleus of Methodism founded.”

By 1785 the Methodist Church throughout the Philadelphia section had so increased is membership that its work was divided into three Annual Conferences. In that same year the office of Presiding Elder was originated. The first Presiding Elder under whose supervision Radnor came was Thomas Vasey, who had come to America with Bishop Coke. Among those who preached in Radnor at this time was William Penn Chandler, who was noted for his eloquence. Another famous man in early Methodist history, Joseph Everett, occupied the pulpit frequently. It is said that he began one of his sermons at Old Radnor by this statement: “It is just six weeks since I was here last, and some of you are six weeks nearer hell than you were then.”

During the years 1801-1803 repairs were made to the little log church and the graveyard that surrounded it that cost $161.40, a sum raised by subscriptions and collection though it was first advanced by the trustees. Some twenty years or more later the burying ground was enlarged by the purchase of one-fourth of an acre of ground, for which twenty-five dollars was paid. At that time, (article ends abruptly)