What Wayne was like in 1936 (continued)

As part of the general background of the story of Wayne as it was 20 years ago, started in last week’s column, it is interesting to know what pictures the patrons of the Anthony Wayne Theatre were seeing early in the year 1936. The late Harry M. Fried was the owner and manager of the theater.

Among these old time favorites were “Mutiny on the Bounty,” featuring Clark Gable, Franchot Tone and Charles Laughton, in “the greatest epic of the sea ever staged.” Others included “Peter Ibbettson” with Gary Cooper and Ann Harding “making their first appearance as a romantic team;” “A Night at the Opera,” with the three Marx brothers, “madder and funnier than ever;” “The Littlest Rebel” starring Shirley Temple, and “Annie Oakley,” with Barbara Stanwyck in the lead.

For those who sought their relaxation at home, there were books from the lending shelves of the Wayne library. Among new fiction listed in the early part of 1936 were “Silas Crockett,” by Mary Ellen Chase; “Tarzan and the Leopard Men,” Edgar Rice Burroughs, and “Mary Poppins Comes Back,” P.L. Travers. Contract bridge was still enough of a new game to warrant a listing of instruction classes each week in the columns of “The Suburban.” In addition to those at St. Davids Golf Club and at Tredyffrin Country Club there were private classes at the homes of Mrs. Walter Le Sueur and Mrs. Edith Wood Atkinson, both well-known bridge teachers.

In the following paragraphs, newcomers who want to know what Wayne was like 20 years ago will find that so many of today’s organizations were already in operation at that time. Although the community has grown tremendously, it has always been an active one.

For those who were interested in amateur theatricals the Wayne Footlighters, with Mrs. Y.P. Dawkins as president, were in the middle of a busy season when, in January, 1936, they gave “Ada Beats the Drum,” under the direction of Margaret Genay. For others whose talents lay along the line of handicrafts, woodworking classes at the Wayne Art Center started in February, 1936. Charles A. McClure was the president of that organization.

The Wayne Musical Coterie, with Mrs. Thomas Blackadder as president, was having its usual monthly meeting at the homes of its various members. Mrs. Eugene Newbold was head of the Wayne branch of the Needlework Guild while Mrs. John M Meigs, 3d, served in the same capacity for the Ithan branch.

With Mrs. Harry M. Crider as president of the Wayne Branch of the WCTU, just as she is now 20 years later, the January meeting of that organization featured the beginning of a study of the U.S. Constitution, under the leadership of Mrs. R.I. Heim. The Wayne Branch of the American Red Cross, with its headquarters in the Neighborhood League House, was carrying on a joint nursing service with that organization, with all of its surgical dressings being made in Red Cross classes held in the Wayne Presbyterian Church. Mrs. C.H. Howson was chairman of the branch at that time.

In March, 1936, during the presidency of Mrs. W.W. Crawford, the Wayne Saturday Club celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding. Assisted by Mrs. Dawkins, Mrs. T. Magill Patterson staged a pageant of tableaux and narrative of the 50 years of Saturday Club history. All participants in the pageant were dressed in authentic gowns of the five decades then just passed. In May of 1936, Mrs. Patterson succeeded Mrs. Crawford as president. Miss Evelyn Dotterer was the president of the Junior Saturday Club.

Among the heads of other Wayne Civic and social organizations in 1936 were Daniel M. Sheaffer, for St. Davids Golf Club; Oliver H. Jackson, Wayne Lions Club; Rocco A. Odorisio, Anthony Wayne Legion Post and Mrs. H. Harrison Smith, the auxiliary unit; Edward B. Maguire, Bateman-Gallagher Post and Mrs. Frederick Lengel, auxiliary unit; Welles M. Post, North Wayne Protective Association; William P. Cochran, Wayne Public Safety Association; David H. Henderson, Radnor Fire Company; S.V. Rowland, Neighborhood League; Howard S. Detwiler, Worshipful Master, Wayne Masonic Lodge; Walter H’ White, Wayne Chamber of Commerce; William H. Crawford, Wayne Building and Loan Association; John M. Gallagher, Radnor Building and Loan, and Henry C. Hadley, St. Davids Building and Loan.

Joseph M. Fronefield, 3d, Board of Township Commissioners; William Plummer, Jr., School Board; Dr. Seneca Egbert, Board of Health; Charles A. McClure, Radnor Township Board of Adjustment; S.V. Rowland, superintendent of schools, and T. Bayard Beatty, principal of the high school. In January, 1936, Lt. Wilmer N. Clemence was named acting captain of police, an appointment ratified a short time later.

Twenty years ago the largest local financial institution, the Wayne Title and Trust Company, was headed by Louis H. Watt, president with J. Harold Hallman as vice-president and secretary. John H.W. McQuiston was another vice-president, as well as Title and Trust officer, while Jason L. Fenimore was treasurer and assistant secretary.

If, in the limited space of last week’s and this week’s columns, any institutions which should have been included have inadvertently been omitted, your columnist offers her apologies.

Despite the many news items in “the Suburban,” there is something missing that was prominent in the Wayne weekly of 20 years ago – for then there were four comic strips each week, “Baron Munchausen,” “Kitty Kelly,” “Rumpers” and “Bozo and the Bacon.”

What Wayne was like in 1936

“What was Wayne like 25 years ago?”, the newcomer asks the old timer. And then, as the latter hesitates in his reply, the newcomer adds encouragingly, “Just tell me about it as it was even ten or fifteen years ago.” But only the old timer realizes the difficulty of adequate answers to questions such as these, for, after all, most community changes come so gradually that it is difficult to date them accurately in retrospect.

The yearly bound copies of “The Suburban” always provide fascinating reading to your columnist in that they record the week-by-week happenings of Radnor township in general and of Wayne in particular. The minute books and other official records of various organizations give the histories of each, but only the local newspaper can give a composite picture of community life over the years.

It was to the 1936 volume of “The Suburban” that the writer turned recently. Amazing as it may seem, the big headline of an early January paper concerned the Philadelphia and Western Railroad and bus service, just as so many headlines of 1956 have done. The story of 20 years ago was very different, however, dealing as it did with a proposed increase in service rather than the recent, much deplored decrease. For in January, 1936, the P. and W. was filing an application with the Public Service Commission for establishment of two local motor bus loops in Wayne to augment its Philadelphia to Wayne service!

The first of these motor bus loops was to make its start from the Wayne – St. Davids station of the P. and W., along Conestoga road to Bloomingdale avenue, which it would travel until Lancaster avenue was reached. From there the route led east to Louella avenue, passing along the business section of Wayne. The end of the “loop” would be south on Louella and along Conestoga road until the Wayne – St. Davids Station was reached again. The route on alternate bus trips would be along Audubon avenue to South Wayne avenue, when, after crossing Lancaster pike and passing the Pennsylvania Railroad station, it would make a rather complete tour of all the streets in North Wayne. But if the writer’s memory serves her rightly this ambitious bus program did not survive for long. In the early months of 1936, just as now in 1956, snowstorms made front page headlines. The first issue of “The Suburban”, in January, 1936, tells of how “the dawn of New Year’s Day found people digging themselves out of the heaviest December snow in years.” Again, in mid-February, “the worst snowstorm in years swept this section.”

Under the heading of “News items Tersely Told”, a column that ran from week to week, were the following bits of news. “A Big Buy-in-Wayne Campaign is being launched by Wayne Business Men… the Wayne Red Cross raised $3800 in money contributions… Radnor High School has a graduating January class of 22… Police and civic organizations “joined in a drive to prevent speeding of automobiles… Strawbridge and Clothier celebrated the sixth anniversary of the opening of its Ardmore store… a four-year-old girl won the Devon Cottage, feature of the Devon Horse Show… Mrs. James H. Lafferty purchased the McCarthy store, one of the oldest business places in Wayne… the June graduating class at Radnor High School numbered 60… a novelty swimming meet was held at Martin’s Dam Club…”

The “Review of Principal Happenings of the year 1936,” as given in an early 1937 issue of “The Suburban,” lists the letting of contracts for the erection of Highland Homes, the $300,000 project on Highland avenue, early in the year… the building neared completion by the end of 1936… tax rate unchanged from the year before with 10 mills for the township and 17½ for the schools… a bitter fight was waged between Weldon B. Heyburn and John J. McClure for Republican nominee for State Senate… at the election in November, Radnor township was one of the new bright GOP spots in the great Roosevelt landslide, the township being carried for Governor Alfred M. Landon by 3825 to 1883, in the largest vote ever cast in the township… with federal aid Radnor High School was enlarged by the addition of classrooms, offices, laboratories, etc. During the year the School District bought the Frank H. Dallett property on Windermere avenue for $5,000 and the lot on North Wayne avenue abutting the Pennsylvania Railroad for $10,000.” (Note: The Dallett property is the site of the school tennis courts and the lot by the railroad is the North Wayne school playgrounds.)

And last, but not least, the Radnor-Lower Merion football game had a score of 2-0, in favor of Lower Merion!

(to be concluded)