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”.)