Homepage A to Z Index Bibliography People Places Plays Site Map About these letters About EJ Phillips
Recreation & sports
I was surprised by the amount of baseball in these letters. Bicycles threatened to draw people from theaters. Trying to compile a list of music to listen to for my transcontinental train trip reveals that much popular music did not endure, but the classical has -- and I could even find some recordings of Adelina Patti on YouTube! Where can I go sleighing?
Amateur theatrics Baseball Bicycles Dancing Fishing Horse racing and driving Masons Music Sleighing Swimming Volunteer fire department
New York, Dec. 6, 1886 Mrs. Dr. N[agle] gave Hattie & Lottie [Powell] tickets to go to the Athletic Club on Sat -- it being "Ladies Day" -- to see the sports swimming, Boxing, fencing &c &c. They went and enjoyed the performance very much.
San Francisco, July 31, 1890 I asked [Maurice] Barrymore about the 5 A's which he was one of the founders, but has not taken an active part lately.
5 A's American Actors Amateur Athletic Association, founded by Barrymore, Steel MacKaye and London comedian Jimmie Powers. The club met at Browne's chophouse. "The members seldom exercised more than their tongues, although the drinking arm was occasionally tested with some Indian wrestling." [Kotsilibas-Davis] King New York City says the club "usually called the Five A's" was organized in 1889 and incorporated in 1890 "for the encouragement of athletic sports among actors and for social purposes". The initiation fee was $25 and annual dues were #12. The club was at 43 West 29th Street.
Boston Sept. 7, 1887 Yesterday I went with Messr's [EM] Holland, [Eugene] Presbrey & [Alessandro] Salvini to see the Bostons and Philadelphians play. Phillies won. I will send a Globe with the score of the game to you. The Philadelphians are stopping at this hotel.
Philadelphia, August 29,1887 On Saturday [son-in-law John Dolman] took us and Mrs. Dolman & Walter [Dolman] to see a game of baseball by the "Philadelphias" & Detroits. Mrs. Dolman & I got pretty excited over the game. I standing up at a home run and Mrs. Dolman crying out "Stop, stop" to one of the men who was running from 3rd base. We quite disgraced ourselves.
Boston, May 27, 1888 Yesterday was wet and cloudy but notwithstanding the "Philadelphias" won their second game of ball from the Bostons. Friday the opening day the Phillies were 4 to 1. Yesterday 1 to 0. Great excitement and interest in the game here. They play again tomorrow & Tuesday. Think I shall go tomorrow, if the day is fine & warm.
Boston, May 31,1888 On Tuesday I went to see the Phila team beat the Bostons and they did it 8 to 0. It was the prettiest game I have ever seen played. No score either side until the 7th inning, then Phila 2. 8th inning 3. 9th 3. Total 8. Boston 0. The Phillies looked very happy. The "Globe" yesterday morning, in its article on the game said, "Mr. Alexander Salvini, accompanied by Mrs. E.J. Phillips, watched the game from the grandstand". I am getting up a baseball renown you see. Mr. [EM] Holland was with us, but was not mentioned.
June 8 1888 Did not get this finished yesterday as the folks called to take me
to Baseball. It was a great game, 15 innings. But I believe there is a dispute
about it and the President Mr. Young will count it out, the umpire not
giving to Boston what they earned, which would have ended the game in the 9th
inning in favor of Boston. I suppose you will read all about it in the papers.
The Boston Globe (June 9 1888) headline read "GREAT BALL Boston Vanquished by Detroit Fifteen Innings at the South End" [Grounds] and its account of the dispute is [Dan] "Brouthers hit to right field for a base...Nash muffed the ball...Brouthers got to third...Brouthers did not stir and John sent the ball to Morrill in time to catch the runner. In the meantime Brouthers started for home. Morrill made a fine throw to Kelly. Kelly stood directly on the plate and touched Brouthers before he could get home.
June 3, 1896 Hope your benefit for Asylum baseball club will net something
Baseball historian Bob Mayer of Putnam Valley NY wrote me "Albert played a limited amount of ball games in 1886 for the Wallkills Base Ball Club and as you know, married the daughter of the newspaper owner and ultimately became editor.... I can tell you that the benefit brought in $300. Not chump change at the time. .. The Wallkill Base Ball Club was organized in 1866 by many of the leading citizens of Middletown. Their main opponents were the Delawares of Port Jervis and the Goshen Base Ball Club. The team disbanded during the 1870's then re-formed and became the leading amateur team in Middletown through the 1880's. John Degnan was the team Captain and apparently after Albert's partnership dissolved, he went to work for Degnan's plumbing company. It appears Albert played several games for the Wallkills in 1886, but none after that. The team played into 1889, but discontinued due to new local competition.
In 1888 a new team was formed at the State Homeopathic Hospital for the Insane at Middletown. The team was known as the Asylum Base Ball Club. It became highly successful and players were brought in from out of town, and given jobs at the hospital for the summer. Others were paid a few dollars for each game, so the team was a Semi-professional team. In the late 1890's baseball was getting competition for fans from many other sports (bicycle craze, kayaking, track, and basketball) which reduced interest for a while. The fundraiser referenced by E.J. was for the Asylum team".
Goldstein, Warren Playing for Keeps: A History of Early Baseball, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0801499240/qid=1076907296/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/002-7351289-1775216?v=glance&s=books
Bibliography of Published Baseball Music and Songs, US Library of Congress United States Department of Agriculture, http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/perform/baseballbib.html APPENDIX A: CHRONOLOGICAL INDEX List of 48 19th century baseball songs
Milwaukee Novr 2nd. 1896 Does [grandson Ted] enjoy his tricycle? I dare say he keeps you in constant dread of something happening to him. I hope he will be very careful and look out for wagons, Bicycles, Trolleys & Steam cars! But he is a good little boy and I think he will be careful for his Papa and Mama's sakes.
Detroit, Mich., May 15th 1896 The business has not been good since we left N.Y.. Men, women and children are all riding bicycles in every town. No business being done anywhere in any line save bicycles! There never was such a general craze before. About 8 men and two women in our Company have their bicycles with them, and ride from 10 to 20 miles a day. Gustave Frohman is an enthusiast on the subject, and I think will kill himself overdoing the thing.
Business for these two weeks has been so bad that we all feel our season in Chicago cannot last for 12 weeks, and we look for closing much earlier. Some say 6 weeks and I say four. But by the time June comes people may be tired of riding the bikes and like to take the theatre in.
Blanche Whiffen (the original Buttercup of HMS Pinafore) writes in her autobiography of bicycles "Everything was moving uptown. I remember riding up the avenue on a bicycle to the park and looking in wonder at all the new buildings. That was the day of the bicycle and how I loved to ride. The popular song was, "On a Bicycle Built for Two," meaning the old tandem which is almost obsolete now. The tandem was the motorcycle of its day and a great favorite with lovers who would use it to riding into the country on Sundays. Tom and I rode a great deal and belonged to one of the bicycle clubs, as numerous as golf clubs today... The bicycle costumes we women wore would look screamingly funny today with their tight waists, big hips, short full skirts and high-laced boots. I must have looked funnier than any of them, for I remember once in San Francisco, when I was riding through Golden Gate Park to the Cliff House with my son, I noticed everyone staring at me and nudging each other and then laughing. When I got back to my hotel I asked little Tom if anything was wrong with my bicycle suit. "No, Mother' he returned, leading me to a looking glass, "But they aren't worn with a bonnet!" Mrs. Thomas Whiffen, Keeping off the Shelf, New York EP Dutton & Co, 1928
Harper's Weekly has bicycling
pictures bicycles NY Times indexes,
King's Dictionary of Boston, 1883 says of Bicycling -- Since the introduction of the bicycle in 1877, the growth of bicycling in Boston has been steady and sure; and the wheel occupies a prominent place among the vehicles used for business, pleasure, and healthful r4ecreations in the street and the suburban roads. There is scarcely a profession that is not represented by wheelmen, even the clergy finding the bicycle useful to them in making pastoral calls. Many of them are expert riders, and are frequent visitors to the bicycle school in the "Pilot" newspaper building on Washington Street. Besides this school, there are a number of bicycle-clubs in various parts of the city.
Wikipedia Bicycle history
The first safety bicycle was produced in 1885 Wikipedia accessed Jan 21 2011
The inside back cover notes (under TOWN TOPICS) Colored gems are fashionable. In a bric-a-brac case at Tiffany's is a chatelaine and watch worn by Marie Antoinette. Reproductions of the Trojan glass exhumed by Dr. Schliemann are to be seen at Tiffany's Hammered gold gipsy rings, with precious stones embedded into he gold, are among the novelties at Tiffanys.
Dancing the tango?
Detroit May 15 1896 What is the "Parada" and who teaches [grandson] Ted to dance?
Chicago May 21 1896 Should have enjoyed seeing Ted's Terpsichorean achievements. His movements are so quick and light. Edward Phillips Nickinson Was 5 1/2.
Wikipedia identifies one meaning of "parada" as an Argentinean dance move http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parada_(dance_move)#Steps
San Francisco July 10, 1890 The [rail]road [between Portland and San Francisco] runs with the Sacramento River, a beautiful stream and a great place for fancy fishing. Mr. [Frederic] Robinson was wild with delight over the prospect of throwing out his lines there. He travels with fishing tackle worth a $1000 & goes fishing whenever & where ever he gets an opportunity. It is a great hobby with him, and I felt sorry he could not stop and have a days sport. He is in every "bill" however, and will not get much chance to fish this trip.
San Francisco July 29, 1890 Albert must be working pretty hard but so long as he is not too tired to go fishing he will get on all right. Albert Nickinson continued to be an enthusiastic fisherman when he lived on the bayou in Pensacola Florida in the 1930s and 1940s.
The Knights Templar are part of the York Rite Masons. John Nickinson was a Mason.
Troy, NY, April 19, 1893 Monday May 1st Phila for one week. I will then ransack my trunks for your [Masonic] apron. I think I have it still. I offered it to you when you were leaving me to go to M[iddle]'town but you said it would not be of any use to you. I am glad you have changed your mind, and hope you will be a good and faithful servant to the noble and time honored Fraternity -- even if you did not tell your Mother anything about it.
Phila Pa May 5th 1893 This morning John [Dolman] did up the [Masonic] apron and took it down to post office. Hope you will get it tomorrow. I do not suppose it will be of any use to you as it is soiled from old age but you now know its use and value, and it will be a keepsake. The rosettes also belonged to the regalia, but your father got a new one and used the other part of the old one for something, I retaining the rosettes.
Pittsburg, Pa, May 12, 1893 Your father was a mason many, many years before I met him. Where he first joined the order I cannot tell you. It may have been before he came to the U.S., which was in 1836. He used to attend lodges wherever he happened to be. Was a Arch Mason & Knight Templar. I dare say he told me when & where he joined the order, for we often talked about the funny devices of the curious to find out the "secrets" but so many years have passed that I cannot recall it. I think though it was in Quebec he was initiated. And that would be about the time I was born. He was an Orangeman also, but never paid much attention to it, as far as I know. The apron I sent you is not the original one I think, by a good many, but it is some years older than you are and has been worn by your father. Practically it cannot be of value to you, only as a memento.
A 1952 letter from Elizabeth Nickinson Chitty to Melanie and Jack Dolman mentions various Masonic keepsakes -- two taffeta rosettes about 5 inches in diameter, one with a rose cross on a white ground in the center of a green circle, the other black with a gold laurel wreath and letters ING [?] and a white kid apron with blue taffeta binding and silver tassels.
Orangeman Members of the Loyal Grange Institution, an Irish society in the province of Ulster. Established in 1795 to maintain Protestant ascendancy.
John Dolman's Masonic funeral in Philadelphia, July 1895 is described in a letter written from New York the next day. When the Masons stepped forward and went through their lovely services -- throwing a scroll of parchment and an apron and some evergreens into the grave and bidding farewell to their "departed brother" it was a solemn scene, and I wished you had been there. We hoped for you until about 9 AM, but while I hoped, I was not disappointed, for I did not think you would be able to get away.
1891 completion of the Music Hall on Fifth Seventh Street, the performance of
serious music largely fell under the purview of the leading piano manufacturers,
Steinway and Chickering, each of which built combined showrooms and recital
halls. ... the mansionesque, somewhat Italianate Steinway Hall, at 71-73
East Fourteenth Street, was known as the "cradle of classical music in this
Stern, Robert, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman, New York 1880:
Architecture and Urbanism in the Gilded Age, New York: Monacelli Press, 1999
New York, Mar. 29, 1886 George Riddle sent me tickets for his course of readings, the 1st on Saturday night at Chickering Hall. Hattie went and took Mrs. Kirby. A Midsummer Nights Dream was the subject, with [Walter] Damrosch's orchestra playing the music.
Chickering Hall George B. Post's Chickering Hall (1875) at the north-west corner of Fifth Avenue and Eighteenth Street, was larger and far more imposing than Stein way Hall ...A robust building of red brick trimmed in brownstone and gray marble, occupying a site that measured 75 feet on Fifth Avenue and 135 feet along Eighteenth Street, Chickering hall was four stories tall, although the two middle floors were expressed as one. The ground floor was used for showrooms with stairs leading ...up [to the auditorium] which was capable of seating 1,450 concertgoers. The 56 foot wide 28 foot deep stage easily accommodated as many as 250 orchestral and choral performers. ... The northward migration of fashion proved to much for the concert hall however, and by 1893 the entire building had been transformed to accommodate retail space. Stern, Robert, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman, New York 1880: Architecture and Urbanism in the Gilded Age, New York: Monacelli Press, 1999
Walter Damrosch (1832-1950) succeeded his father Dr. Leonard D. Damrosch (after his father's death) as director of the Oratoria and Symphony Societies and became assistant director of the Opera.
Several Madison Square Theatre programs list music (under the direction of Frank A. Howson) and credit Mason & Harris organs and a Weber piano.
Salt Lake City, Sept. 14, 1886 Went this morning by invitation of the Mormons to hear the big organ in the Tabernacle. It is fine!
Gilbert & Sullivan's Gondoliers 1890
New York, Nov. 2, 1890 I told Aunty about the Opera business and she said you did quite right not to have anything to do with it. The Opera itself is a very trashy affair.
Some insight into this comments comes from the book New York 1880 "Fashionable New York greeted the 1883-1884 season, the inaugural one for the Metropolitan, with a battle between opera houses tantamount to what the New York Times described as "a social war of extermination" ...The Metropolitan's opening the night before [The Academy of Music] had been an event in which the bejeweled new rich created a scene that the New York Evening Telegram described as "almost ravishing"> Despite an unimpressive presentation of Faust, the Metropolitan Opera had the advantage of a new home, no matter how controversial some of its features, and the support of a monied group, albeit one that seemed to many exceptionally vulgar -- so vulgar in fact that the phenomenon drew tremendous attention in the press and attracted audiences solely to view the scene. The New York Dramatic Mirror's critic was direct; "There was a big crowd Monday night at the new Metropolitan Opera House. All the nouveau riches were on hand. The Goulds and Vanderbilts and people of that ilk perfumed the air with the odor of crisp greenbacks. The tiers looked like cages in a menagerie of monopolists. When somebody remarked that the house looked as bright as a new dollars, the appropriate character of the assemblage became apparent. To a refined eye, the decoration of the edifice seemed in extremely bad taste." Stern, Robert, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman, New York 1880: Architecture and Urbanism in the Gilded Age, New York: Monacelli Press, 1999
Salt Lake City, Sept. 22, 1896 Glad you had such a nice trip on the Republic and that my grandson enjoyed it. Also that he sings "Annie Rooney" in the same style I do -- words and music to suit ourselves. I heard it so often at DeYoungs that I cannot get the air out of my head - all other airs come instead of it - yet all to the words of little Annie Rooney. I told Maud [ Harrison] in the dressing room the other night that if I was annoying her just to mention it, for I was not conscious of the noise I made, and if she asked me to stop I would remember it.
Annie Rooney This is an 1890 song by Michael Nolan. No connection with Little Orphan Annie. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Annie_Rooney
New York, Jan 24, 1892 I had a ticket for the [Adelina] Patti concert last Wednesday afternoon, but Mrs. [Agnes] Booth was taken ill and Miss [Ada] Dyas was sent for to play Mrs. Ralston [in Jim the Penman] - the consequence was that the rehearsal was called at 2:30 PM and it was nearly 5 when I got through.
Adelina Patti (1843-1919) Spanish singer, who sang at the May 1892 Actors Fund Fair (along with "other distinguished soloists, a chorus of 1,000 volunteers and a grand orchestra, to three of the largest audiences [7000 the first night and 12,000 at the last matinee.] ever assembled at concerts. As the price of seats was set at popular figures the audiences were composed for the most part of people who had never heard Patti sing and on each occasion the enthusiasm rose almost to the point of hysteria." She sang the Jewel Song from Faust , the Gounod Ave Maria Home, Sweet Home and Comin' Thro' the Rye. [Kings NYC and Odell] Made NY debut in 1859.
Jewel Song Faust, Gounod 1859
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWcPJsOqWrw Gounod Ave Maria 1859
Sweet Home http://www.trivia-library.com/a/origins-of-famous-songs-home-sweet-home.htm Home Sweet Home was written in 1823 and frequently sung by Adelina Patti.
Coming through the Rye from the Robert Burns (1759-1796). poem http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9GtnQTnqxk
Adelina Patti http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xJxw-j1i0c http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl02WT4KLvc
New York, Jan 9,
Snow has been falling all day. .. Hattie says she would like to join you in a
sleigh ride. Those who have sleighs here will be sliding along nicely
New York March 5 1890 I imagined you would have good sleighing in Middletown, for there must have been five or six inches deep on the level here. The yards have still a lot remaining, but it was carted from the Streets.
Buffalo Christmas Day 1892 I dined alone but had a very good dinner. Snow going on all day. Splendid sleighing
Washington DC, Jan 6, 1893 Astonished to hear you have no sleighing - the sleighs are running here in fine order and the swells are displaying their fine "turnouts". I went out at noon to take a walk but was glad to come back.
Montreal, Jan. 23, 1894 Opened last night to a bad house - and I am afraid business for the week will not be good - sleighing and moonlight for the week is too good for people to go to theatre. ... I refused a sleigh ride to-day on account of my cold - was sorry to do so. The snow is not so deep here as I expected it to be - but - still there is good sleighing, and no vehicles but sleighs to be seen. These are of all shapes and sizes - and some look very funny bobbing along.
Montreal, Jan 1, 1895 A Happy New Year to you all. Sleighs are gliding along to the music of their bells and the people seem to be enjoying themselves.
I've never been sleighing. Seems like a good
thing to try. Perhaps in New Hampshire
Sleighing in Central Park 1898, Thomas Edison http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fADDUEOq0wc
Salt Lake City, Sept. 28, 1888 Today have been to the Lake by special train. Have had a very pleasant time. Mr. Palmer, [James H] Stoddart, [EM] Holland , [Clarence] Handysides, Mr. & Mrs. [Louis F] Massen, Mr. & Mrs. [Eugene W] Presbrey, Mrs. [Frederic] Robinson, Miss [Virginia] Buchanan. Misses [Clara] Lipman & the two [Gertie (8 yrs old) and her mother] Homans, Miss [May] Brookyn, [Jessie] Millward, [Harry] Woodruff, [Alessandro] Salvini, [AC] Hillsdorf & self of the [Madison Square] Company and several ladies and gentlemen of the City. All went in to bathe, excepting Mr. Stoddart, Mrs. Robinson & self. We had lunch and I have just returned. The lake was lovely. The bathing accommodations are much improved since I was there four years ago.
San Francisco, July 10, 1890 [Hattie writes that she] feels all right [after a miscarriage], but the doctor told her not to go in bathing for two weeks for fear of catching cold. That will seem a long time for her, for she is so fond of sea bathing.
Various Dolmans have been (and are) active in the Swarthmore Players Club, Swarthmore PA. History http://www.pcstheater.org/site/about-pcs/history/
San Francisco, Aug. 9, 1886 How can you afford to join the Volunteer Fire Co? When you are yet so deeply in debt? Your loss of time is running to fires will cost you a great deal more than the $40.
in his Middletown Fire Department uniform
Middletown Fire Department history http://www.thrall.org/middletown/c1_16.htm
Last updated Nov 10, 2012
to Z Index
these letters About EJ