What young people did for amusement and entertainment (1890 photos)

As George W. Schultz and your columnist sit in his pleasant living room in the Anthony Wayne Apartments and turn the pages of his old photograph album, the Wayne of 1890 seems to come alive through these splendid pictures, as clear and distinct as they were when he took them more than 60 years ago.

41_image01Here are the Wayne Estate houses, as they appeared when they were just completed, looking very trim and neat, but against a background strange to eyes of the present day. For most of our wide-spreading trees were slender saplings then, and our tall, thick hedges had not even been planted.

Other things are strange, too… the quiet streets free from automobile traffic with only the occasional horse and cart as the pleasure vehicle. Some show families sitting on their front porches, others are of young people on a tennis court or in groups on the lawn, and two are of a picnic at Valley Forge in August, 1890.

As your columnist examines more closely the picture which she has chosen for illustration for this week’s column, she asks, “What did the young people do for entertainment and amusement in Wayne in 1890?” And Mr. Schultz answers from the experience of his own youth.

“When young persons went to a friend’s house at night, they had to walk, carrying a lantern when there was no moonlight… the general evening’s relaxation was to play cards, euchre, poker and the new game, bridge, just introduced. In summer, outside of the baseball club, many families had tennis courts. There were dancing parties at the Saturday Club house about once a month, and amateur theatricals occasionally in the Wayne Opera House. And then there were summer “hops” at the Bryn Mawr and Devon Hotels.

“Mrs. Kate Longstreth Sayen was always popular with the younger set,” said Mr. Schultz. “It was she who chaperoned the large group at the Valley Forge picnic shown in the two pictures. She invited enough young people to fill two hay wagons. I was camera man with old style glass plates and a tripod. After climbing the old wooden observation tower and visiting Washington’s headquarters, which had a small relic room in the rear of the museum, we all seated ourselves on the slope of Mt. Joy and opened the food and drink for supper. There was then (in August 1890) no State Park and only a few scattered ancient houses which had not been destroyed in the 1777 raid of Colonel Grey’s British Cavalry, burning the iron forge of Dewees and Potts.”


The following is one of the pictures taken on that August day of 1890. The background is a far cry from the beautifully kept park-like Valley Forge of today. And as we look at people of 60 years ago, so formally dressed for this picture, we cannot but wonder what they would have thought of the picnic attire of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren of today – the wind blown hair of our hatless girls and boys – their slacks and their shorts – their bare legs – their feet encased in flopping moccasins!

Complete identification of all those at the picnic has been made by Mr. Schultz.

So much for the hayride to Valley Forge Park in the big horse drawn wagons and for the picnic on Mt. Joy.

41_image02The second picture shows the tennis court on the old Sayen place, which is still located just across the street from the site of the First Baptist Church, on Conestoga road and West Wayne avenue. This church was torn down in the spring of 1952. The Sayen house is now the home of the Italian-American Club. This picture was also taken in August 1890.