My wife and I recently visited her mother. During the visit, our conversations revealed that there was an old Bible that my wife’s great-great-grandmother, Margaret Mary (Lambe) McAllister, was gifted with. The Bible was printed in M.DCCC.LXXIV (1876) and contains both the Old and New Testaments.
The bible is inscribed to:
With the best wishes of
The Rev. Wm Cassidi.
April 30th 1877
– – – – – – –
I have some difficulty making out some of the words and have tried my best. I’m not confident of Mr. McCassidi’s first name nor of the word below the line.
Margaret Lamb was born on 28 April 1860, so, in 1877 she would have just turned 17 and was being let loose into the world. Margaret married Peter McAllister over a year later, on 22 August 1878, so it appears to have been a “coming out” type of gift. I don’t know who Mr. McCassidi is but I would expect him to be a relative or a close family friend.
On a second inscription page, it shows the book went to
Elizabeth Darling Kemon
Born March 22, 1906
Elizabeth had no children, so she passed it on to her oldest niece, my mother-in-law. A third inscription records that transfer and provides name, birthdate, and relationship to Elizabeth Kemon.
Besides being a valuable family heirloom, old bibles often provide important genealogical information. Even though this small, pocket-sized bible didn’t have a set of center pages for family history details, the inscriptions provided important information. In this case, a clue to a possible relative or family friend and the birthdate for Elizabeth (Darling) Kemon and their relationships.
Parkview Elementary, Fridley, Anoka County, Minnesota
In August 1958, we moved from Anoka to Fridley into a tiny little house on NE 2nd Street. At the time the address was 5853, however, sometime during the ensuing years, the address has changed to 5881. Zillow says that the house was built in 1948 and is a 480-square-foot one bedroom home. My grandmother and my mother had the bedroom. I had the bedroom closet as my bedroom. It was a large closet for such a small house but was really small as a bedroom. As I recall, it was only inches longer than my bed. My clothes dresser blocked the side of my bed by my feet. Boxes under the bed contained most of my clothes and my boy things. I had model airplanes hanging from the ceiling. The Fridley house is the first house I lived in that is still standing. There are still houses that I lived in that were built before the Fridley House, but none of the places I lived before I lived in Fridley are still standing.
My mother was still working at Anoka State Hospital when we were living there. I have a photo of her in her nurse’s uniform on the steps to the house.
My grandmother’s ledger (From the Donna Darling Digital Collection) says we paid $55/month in rent. I remember life in Fridley as idyllic. A short block away was a huge open field that I played in. Later that field was where I trapped gophers (See “My First ‘Job’ – Trapper.” Down the street was “Melody Manor,” a new development. There was a park where I joined “Little League” and learned to play baseball. I was pretty much a bench warmer and only remember batting once or twice when our team was many runs ahead.
My best friend was a girl, Patty Hopkins, who lived on Main street. (I wonder what ever happened to her.) Her house was across a vacant lot (now Skyline Park) to a house no longer there. A few houses down 2nd Street was where Mark and Rodney Sabo(?) lived. If I was going to get into trouble, it would be with them. There were a couple derelict houses between where we lived that were a source of fun – mostly things like knocking down hornet’s nests and yellow-jacket nests. The derelicts are long gone and a 2-1/2 story apartment is there today. Also, about a half a mile away was the Mississippi River and Chase Island. There was usually a tree down bridging the distance from shore to the island. Lots of fun playing there. Of course, I wasn’t supposed to go there to play – it was across both a busy highway (without any lights) and across multiple railroad tracks. Sometimes, I’m amazed that I lived through my youth.
We lived in the Fridley house for two and a half years, by far the longest I had lived anywhere up to that point in my life. As I recall, we painted that house, fenced it, put on awnings, put up a flagpole, and did many other improvements to the house, yard, and property even though we were renters. My grandmother planted moss roses along the side by the side door – they are still one of my favorite flowers. I love how they open-up to full bloom every morning and close every night.
Parkview Elementary was about six long-blocks away (nine long-blocks in a mile) and I walked. I don’t remember much about third grade. I know the school was new. In fourth grade, I had Mrs. Peterson as my teacher. She, as I recall, was older and she saw something in me that she encouraged. Fourth grade was the year I shifted from “getting by” to one of the smart kids. She became an “Ancestor of Spirit” for me that year. She helped make me the person I am, today. Maybe it was also because it was the first school I attended two years in a row. In any event, I excelled that year and carried on into the following year.
For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a clipping from the Donna Darling Collection
The venue is the Allegheny Theatre in Philadelphia, PA.
The show is “Donna Montran and her Bathing Beauties”
Also on bill
“The Idol Dancer”
Featuring in Lights
(The Prima Donna With the Million Dollar Personality)
And Her Bathing Beauties
Bringing herself into Everyone’s Heart
Watch for her Return to New York
It is not clear where this clipping came from, probably from a promotional item in something like Variety, as it doesn’t mention her playing in Philadelphia. Rather, it reminds readers to “Watch for Her Return to New York.” (Which she doesn’t appear to do for several months.)
Donna in Philadelphia, PA, at the Allegheny Theatre – Sep 27, 1920
Of particular interest is a program of the show the week of September 27th, 1920. For the Allegheny Theatre. It shows us that the Allegheny claimed to be “The largest Vaudeville Theatre in the World.” It also provided a list of the acts. A musical overture started the show followed by a “review of current events.” I’m sure that was really important as in 1920 America so many people didn’t read and write. Current Events was followed by four different Vaudeville acts before the main live act. Tom Rooney presents “The California Bathing Girls and Donna Montran in ‘A Beach Promenade’ in 6 gasps and 3 shocks. Conceived and staged under the personal direction of Earl Lindsay.” The show was followed by “The Idle Dancer”[sic] directed by D. W. Griffith. It was a 1 hour, 44-minute silent film “The Idol Dancer.” Following the film was an “Exit March” performed by the orchestra.
A musical overture started the show followed by a “review of current events.” I’m sure that was really important as in 1920 America so many people didn’t read and write, so learning the Current Events of the Day was a great feature.
Current Events was followed by four Vaudeville acts before the main live act. They were:
Alexander and Mack
Una Clayton & Co.
Tappen and Armstrong
Then the main show:
Tom Rooney presents “The California Bathing Girls and Donna Montran in ‘A Beach Promenade’ in 6 gasps and 3 shocks. Conceived and staged under the personal direction of Earl Lindsay.”
The live show was followed by “The Idle Dancer”[sic] directed by D. W. Griffith. It was a 1 hour, 44-minute silent film “The Idol Dancer.” Following the film was an “Exit March” performed by the orchestra.
An advertising clipping relating to Donna’s Allegheny Theatre appearance. It let us know that her California Bathing Beauties show included a cast of 12. The ad also mentioned that “You were taken in the movies last week, see yourself in the picture this week.” According to an article in the “Philadelphia Inquirer” (Sep. 26, 1920) pictures taken at the theatre the previous week including many residents entire audience. Those photos were going to be shown on the screen this week. How fun. A great promotion for the theatre.
B. F. Keith’s Allegheny Theatre
F. Keith’s Allegheny Theatre was located at 3139-3149 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
F. Keith’s Allegheny Theatre was designed by the firm of Magaziner & Potter; it opened in 1912.
In 1926, it was remodeled by the firm of Hoffman-Henon Co.
By 1941, the theater became part of Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.
In 1942, the theater underwent renovation by Golder Construction, Co.
The theatre lasted until 1956 and has since been torn down.
B. F. Keith’s Allegheny Theatre size is confusing. Certainly, in 1920 it billed itself as “the largest vaudeville theater in the world.” Also in 1920, Anthony F. Dumas did an architectural drawing of B.F. Keith’s Allegheny theater and his drawing indicated it was the “World Largest Vaudeville Theater seating 4000.” However, people on Cinema Treasures indicate the theater seated 2,858 in 1936. Likewise, Joel Frykholm, in his essay, “Framing the Feature Film,” found B. F. Keith’s Allegheny theater to seat 2,855 individuals in 1914.
Sadly, the theatre is not listed in the Julius Cahn Theatrical Guide for 1913-1914, (the edition I have and use) as it must have been too new for inclusion. Also, the 1921 Guide doesn’t list the Allegheny Theatre either, but it does list the B. F. Keith Theatre which had a seating capacity of 2,300.
How the theater could have gone from 2,855 in 1914 to 4,000 in 1920 and back to 2,858 in 1936 is beyond. I suspect the 4,000 number to be in error.
Today the site is the location of “Friendly Plaza” the home of a Family Dollar Store and Friendly Wholesalers Inc. Furniture store. See Google Map.
It is clear that B. F. Keith’s Allegheny Theatre was new in 1920, being about eight years old. It was also one of the largest theaters of its time. Donna played there for a week, but she and the California Bathing Beauties played several other Philadelphia theaters during the fall of 1920. I’ll write more about them later.
It will take some additional research to determine the actual seating of B. F. Keith’s Allegheny Theatre in 1920 while Donna was there.
ACTA UNIVERSITATIS STOCKHOLMIENSIS – Stockholm Cinema Studies 9 – “Framing the Feature Film: Multi-Reel Feature Film and American Film Culture in the 1910s” by Joel Frykholm citing: Advertisement for B. F. Keith’s Allegheny Theatre, Inquirer, March 1, 1914:17; and “Allegheny,” In Vaudeville’s Realm, Inquirer, March 1, 1914:16. http://manualzz.com/doc/17494960/stockholm-cinema-studies-9.
This week I took a look at ten photos from the Donna Darling Collection. Unfortunately, three of the photos were blurry or otherwise unusable. Of the remaining seven photos, five included uncle Russ as a child. One showed Russell and Donna and one showed Russ with Sammy. One photo showed all three. There were also two additional photos of Donna but both were family type photos and not part of her vaudeville life.
Some of the photos were badly damaged but I was able to clean them up significantly. For each of the photos, I have:
Original scanned image.
Original cropped image.
Edited PSD (Adobe Photoshop Elements) image
Edited JPG image
With each edited version of the photo, I added a caption. I am certain about the individuals shown, however, the dates are by guess and by golly.
Donna was born Madonna Montran. She used Donna Montran in her early vaudeville days. She then used Donna Darling as her stage name. I don’t believe that she ever used the surname Amsterdam. Sometime after 1935, Donna lived with a man named Russell Kees. Although I don’t believe that Donna and Russell were ever married, Donna and her two children, Russell and Sylvia began using the Kees surname. Sammy was born Samson Amsterdam. He used the stage name of Sammy Clark for many years. If the names aren’t confusing to you, you are good.
I have uploaded the seven photos to Google Photos. The downloads from Google Photos are generally of sufficient quality to work for most situations. However, if you need a higher quality image of any of the photos let me know and I’ll send you one.
For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at two clippings from the Donna Darling Collection, both dealing with her playing at the Alhambra Theatre.
I have cropped, edited, and sized the photos for the web.
The venue is the Alhambra.
The show is the “Bathing Beauty Revue” featuring Donna Darling and Murray Earle.
Also on bill
Richard Dix in “A Man Must Live”
Coming attractions include:
Cinema Treasures indicates there were over 100 theaters named Alhambra in the United States.[i]
“A Man Must Live” was released on 19 January 1925.[ii]
A search of Newspapers.Com yielded no articles or advertisements that showed an Alhambra Theatre showing “A Man Must Live” with a bathing beauty revue. However, a search of Genealogy Bank was successful in finding such an article that published on 21 January 1925 in the Milwaukee Journal.[iii] The article mentions speaks at length about the movie, “A Man Must Live” and ends with the following:
“In addition, there’s the Bathing Beauty revue which may or may not amuse you.”
A further search of the Milwaukee Journal found an advertisement of the Milwaukee Alhambra Theatre using the very distinctive logo which was used in the advertisements that Donna had in her collection. (Larger first and last A’s in the logo.) The January 21st was a Wednesday and Donna’s scrapbook ad indicates that Gloria Swanson was coming on Saturday, so I believe she probably played at Alhambra 21, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday (January 12, 22, and 23, 1925.
January 21-23, 1925 – The Bathing Beauty Revue featuring Donna Darling (Mack Sennett’s Prize Winner) and Murray Earle (From Geo. White’s Scandals) as well as “her 10 bathing beauties from the Hollywood Studios” played at the Alhambra Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Standard: Research the Milwaukee Alhambra Theatre and write about Donna’s show there.