1913 Labor Day: parade; Society Circus; 2nd City Troop members Penman, Robert and Thomas Wood, sons of late John P. Wood

24_image01Several weeks ago this columnist commented on the time and patience required to bring stories and pictures together in connection with the series on the big Labor Day Festival, held on the School Field in Wayne, in 1912.

This week’s column is the result of five years of research, however it has required five years to locate the picture shown above, which relates to a story written in “Your Town and My Town” in September 1950. This story described Labor Day, 1913, in Wayne, when several thousand people gathered on Radnor School field to witness a “Society Circus,” the like of which was never seen before, nor has ever been seen since – not in Wayne, at any rate. And because five years is a long time, the highlights of that story will be repeated in today’s column.

Today’s picture, discovered in an album of old pictures belonging to “Ted” Brooks, was as familiar to the writer as if she had seen it before – surely it must be a picture of that “parade” that swung around Radnor High School grounds, making itself heard above the merry-go-round, the animals and the crowd on Labor Day, 1913. And sure enough, when the picture was loosened from the paper, there was the notation on the back, “Dress Parade, Labor Day, 1913.” For even further proof, it was possible to identify one of the central figures, for the story of five years ago had described A.J.D. Peterson as “the bearded lady, very lady-like indeed, in a high waisted silk dress and kid gloves, reaching above the elbow.” Surely, this lady in the picture is “She,” taking great strides at the side of a handsome escort in the parade!

Some of the highlights of the event were the three Wood brothers, Penman, Robert and Thomas, members of the Second City Troop, sons of the late John P. Wood. The three did “horseback stunts on two beautiful horses.” And then there was Theodore J. Grayson, in “a polka dot clown suit” and B.L. Van Schaick, chairman of the circus committee, who performed in a most elegant riding costume. Wallace C. Dickson was a snake charmer with a large snake around “her” waist. Frances Leonard, queen of the gypsy caravan, had three fortune telling companions, Mona Whitlock, Margaret Riley and Mrs. B.L. Van Schaick.

Another entertainer was Dr. Norman Sinclair, “for two years the rage in Paris and Strafford,” who performed in a comedy riding act. Tom Walton was master of wild beasts, while Ralph Weadle was the wild man who escaped from a side show at an inopportune moment, much to the consternation of the audience!

Osgood Sayen was “Moke,” the monkey who stepped on the tail of the lion, George Luigi. William Lynch, the tiger, joined in their merry fracas.

In the side shows, Professor George C. Allen, “P.D.Q.R.S.V.P.,” exhibited his human curiosities. Among them were Crutze, the strong man, known around Wayne as Thomas Hearne, and Lady Winnie, the snake charmer, well-known locally as Wallace Dickson.

The old newspapers from which this story was originally taken were lent the writer by T. Griffith Roberts, who had treasured copies of the now defunct Philadelphia Press and Public Ledger.

Perhaps among other residents of this bygone era there may be some who have pictures of this famous “Society Circus” which they may be willing to lend for use in this column.