Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On the Road with the Cat and the Cow (52 Ancestors; #9)


On the Road with the Cat and the Cow! (52 Ancestors #9)


¯Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee. An actors life for me!
A high silk hat, and a silver cane.
A watch of gold, with a diamond chain.
Hi-Diddle-Dee-Day an actors life is gay!
Its great to be a celebrity.
An actors life for me! 
Pinocchio, 1940

The first decade of the 1900 to 1910 decade of the 20th century was all about leisure time, entertainment, and fashion.  Nickelodeons, movies, circus, vaudeville, balloon rides, and Sunday drives in the new family car were everywhere. 

Great-uncle Elijah Gill (1872-1932) gave them what they wanted – music and plays.  Young Elijah was known for his baritone voice.  A search of Salt Lake Tribune and Herald newspapers finds many articles about his singing - in the Tabernacle choir, in local opera, at the Chicago World’s Fair, and at Saltair, an amusement park on the shore of The Great Salt Lake. 

Elijah left town with the Pike Opera Company about 1899.  He toured with the “Cat and the Fiddle,” a “merry, musical extravaganza!” 

The Cat and the Fiddle” … show is breezy, nifty, and satisfying…65 hanging pieces, together with a large amount of flat and set stuff and two big trucks of properties, electrical effects, comprising some 19 different scene changes.  The plot is laid around and tells of the strange doings of the people of the imaginary world, the Island of Eye, whose destinies are ruled over by the Great Eye.  Great Gobs and his consort are ruling king and queen, having obtained the power by imprisoning the good Fair Queen, the Genii and her wishing cat, in a big jar under the Catskill mountains.  A sacrifice in the shape of a maiden with a strawberry mark is required every hundred years to appease the Eye so that it will be open for another hundred years….  The story goes on and on and on... 
The Caledonian ran one of the more interesting pieces on the play, which is based on the poem of the same name.  The poem was written to “hit at the extravagances of the nobility .. in the reign of Elizabeth.”  She is the cat, a creature symbolic of witchcraft and evil, a worker of the devil’s wiles; the little dog a bitter thrust at sycophancy; the dish and spoon, meant to convey the waste and extravagance of the monarchy.
 
The production is followed by “The Cow and the Moon,” a new musical extravaganza in three acts and sixteen gorgeous scenes, presented by a company of forty people, headed by Charles A. Sellon, will be seen at the Colonial November 6.  It is a companion play to “The Cat and the Fiddle,” and many of the personnel of the latter company will appear to advantage in this new Sellon show.  The lyrics and music are by Carleton Lee Colby, and the scenery by Harry J. Buhler, who were identified with “The Cat and the Fiddle.”
The touring company would perform “Cat” at a matinee and “Cow” in the evening at the same theater.  They would finish a performance, hit the road, and do it again the next day in another town.  They worked in towns where John L Sullivan would be at the Pantages, or Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at the fair grounds the same week. 
Along the way, Elijah Gill morphed into Edward Gill, and later Edward Gilmore.
The federal highway system didn’t happen until the late 1920s.  The players and their equipment traveled 28,000 miles in 7 years between September 28, 1907, and December 2, 1914.  Although the company had “two big trucks,” I imagine the troupe members traveled by train to cities and burgs you never heard of – where is St. Johnsbury, Vermont?  Its Italianate train station is just yards from the Colonial, where “Cat” played on Halloween 1911.  A picture in Images of America: St. Johnsbury shows a fine three-story building on the corner of Church and Main street.  The Colonial burned in 1924.

The Cat and the Fiddle” … show is breezy, nifty, and satisfying…65 hanging pieces, together with a large amount of flat and set stuff and two big trucks of properties, electrical effects, comprising some 19 different scene changes.  The plot is laid around and tells of the strange doings of the people of the imaginary world, the Island of Eye, whose destinies are ruled over by the Great Eye.  Great Gobs and his consort are ruling king and queen, having obtained the power by imprisoning the good Fair Queen, the Genii and her wishing cat, in a big jar under the Catskill mountains.  A sacrifice in the shape of a maiden with a strawberry mark is required every hundred years to appease the Eye so that it will be open for another hundred years….  The story goes on and on and on... 
The Caledonian ran one of the more interesting pieces on the play, which is based on the poem of the same name.  The poem was written to “hit at the extravagances of the nobility .. in the reign of Elizabeth.”  She is the cat, a creature symbolic of witchcraft and evil, a worker of the devil’s wiles; the little dog a bitter thrust at sycophancy; the dish and spoon, meant to convey the waste and extravagance of the monarchy.
The production is followed by “The Cow and the Moon,” a new musical extravaganza in three acts and sixteen gorgeous scenes, presented by a company of forty people, headed by Charles A. Sellon, will be seen at the Colonial November 6.  It is a companion play to “The Cat and the Fiddle,” and many of the personnel of the latter company will appear to advantage in this new Sellon show.  The lyrics and music are by Carleton Lee Colby, and the scenery by Harry J. Buhler, who were identified with “The Cat and the Fiddle.”

The touring company would perform “Cat” at a matinee and “Cow” in the evening at the same theater.  They would finish a performance, hit the road, and do it again the next day in another town.  They worked in towns where John L Sullivan would be at the Pantages, or Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at the fair grounds the same week. 
Along the way, Elijah Gill morphed into Edward Gill, and later Edward Gilmore.
The federal highway system didn’t happen until the late 1920s.  The players and their equipment traveled 28,000 miles in 7 years between September 28, 1907, and December 2, 1914.  Although the company had “two big trucks,” I imagine the troupe members traveled by train to cities and burgs you never heard of – where is St. Johnsbury, Vermont?  Its Italianate train station is just yards from the Colonial, where “Cat” played on Halloween 1911.  A picture in Images of America: St. Johnsbury shows a fine three-story building on the corner of Church and Main street.  The Colonial burned in 1924.
28,000 miles, as the crow flies.


Krug Theater, Omaha, Nebraska, September 28, 1907
The Paris Grand, Paris, Kentucky, November 4, 1907
Lyceum, Toledo, Ohio, November 22, 1907
Babcock Theater, Billings, Montana, September 4, 1908
The Spokane, Spokane, Washington, September 12, 1908
New Oregon Theatre, Pendleton, Oregon, October 7, 1908
Salt Lake Theatre, Salt Lake City, Utah, October 15, 1908
Academy of Music, Newport News, Virginia, February 4, 1909
The Bijou, Bismarck, North Dakota, September 2, 1909
Opera House, Glendive, Montana, September 8, 1909
Harnois, Missoula, Montana, September 15, 1909
Keylor Grand, Walla Walla, Washington, September 17, 1909
Auditorium, Spokane, Washington, September 19, 1909
Tacoma Theater, Tacoma, Washington, September 24, 1909
The Grand, Seattle, Washington, October 2, 1909
Oregon Theater, Pendleton, Oregon, October 4, 1909
Grand Theatre, Aberdeen, Washington, October 10, 1909
Colonial, Salt Lake City, Utah, October 17, 1909
Jefferson Theater, Lafayette, Louisiana, December 13, 1909
Beverly Theater, Staunton, Virginia, March 4, 1910
Paris Grand, Paris, Kentucky, March 25, 1910
Holland Opera House, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, March 30, 1010
The Kentucky, Paducah, Kentucky, April 4, 1910
The Auditorium, Spokane, Washington, August 27, 1910
The Mandan Opera House, Bismarck, North Dakota, September 14, 1910
The Bijou, Bismarck, North Dakota, September 15, 1910
The Bijou, Bismarck, North Dakota, September 15, 1910
The Opera House, Glendive, Montanta, September 18, 1910
The Grand Theater, Aberdeen, Chehalis County, Washington, October 16, 1910
The Ogden Theater, Ogden, Utah, October 23, 1910
Gondram Theatre, Donaldsonville, Louisiana, October 24, 1910
The Colonial, Salt Lake City, Utah, November 6, 1910
Academy of Music, Orangeburg, South Carolina, February 2, 1911
City Opera House, Newberry, South Carolina, February 9, 1911
Bennington Opera House, Bennington, Vermont, June 29, 1911
Turner Theater, Ulm, Brown County, Minnesota, October 25, 1911
The Colonial, St. Johnsbury, Vermont, October 25, 1911
Auditorium, Brattleboro, Vermont, November 4, 1911
Pember Theatre, Rutland, Vermont, November 7, 1911
Opera House, Bennington, Vermont, November 8, 1911
The Auditorium, Brattleboro, Vermont, November 10, 1911
The Opera House, Newberry, South Carolina, February 27, 1912 (with “Ed Gilmore”)
The Grand, Abbeville, South Carolina, February 28, 1912
Lyric, Virginia, Minnesota, September 4, 1912
The Empire, Rock Island, Illinois, October 7, 1912 (Ed Gilmore)
The Empire, Rock Island, Illinois, January 14, 1913 (Ed Gilmore)
The Lyric, Virginia, Minnesota, February 7, 1913
Empire, Rock Island, Illinois, February 27, 1913
Empress Theatre, Tulsa, Oklahoma, March 12, 1914
Turner Theater, New Ulm, Brown County, Minnesota, December 2, 1914
Turner Theatre, New Ulm, Minnesota, December 2, 1914




 

1 comment:

  1. I'm researching the Gill surname also- always looking for connections. My eyes aren't so great at reading small print on the computer though- can you tell me where your Gill family is from?

    ReplyDelete