THIS DAY IN 1918 IN THERECORD
Saturday, June 15, 1918. The Prospect Park tennis court hosts “a unique and beautiful spectacle” as 600 local women take part in an “allegorical pageant of the present war” to benefit the American Red Cross. “Each scene moved smoothly on, the music was both melodic and inspiring and the dances were poetic in their grace and beauty,” The Record reports. “The costumes of the girls and women were of various colors, blending in harmony and forming over varying and beautiful combinations against the background of the deep green of the grass on the banks that circle the arena,” the Sunday Budget elaborates. “The garments fell in soft folds over the feminine forms, particularly those of the girls, aesthetically typifying the spirit of youth and the splendor of full womanhood. Every participant a girl or a woman, another effect of the pageant was the realization of the beauty and gentleness of the feminine sex.” Grace Hendry plays Columbia, the female embodiment of the United States, as the allegory proceeds: “Scene I. All the Joys of Peace are light and gay and are led by Pleasure in a dance. Peace, followed by two attendants representing Plenty, enters and surveys the scene with joy, and all do obeisance to Columbia as she comes upon the scene. “Scene II. The Women of America approach and salute Columbia as they pass her and take their places with those representing the light frivolous side of life.
“Scene III. All the happiness is suddenly interrupted by the appearance of the dark shapes of the War Clouds, and as the atmosphere of War increases with the entrance of the Spear Dancers and the Spirit of War the Joys of Peace and Women of America become more and more uneasy.
“Scene IV. The explanation of the uneasiness is seen in the approach of Justice and the Allied Nations, who plead with Columbia for aid.
“Scene V. As War comes nearer with his awful train of Hate and Suffering the Joys of Peace and Women of America in terror plead with Columbia to leave War and all that go with him to the people he started with.
“Scene VI. Columbia hesitates to take the proffered sword of War until Liberty enters, and then for the sake of Liberty as well as Justice Columbia grasps the sword and raises it above her head, and Peace slowly and sadly leaves [as] the Sorrow Dancers appear.
The allegory concludes with Columbia urging the reluctant Woman of America to join her. The Spirit of Service finally persuades them to offer “service of a very definite kind” before Columbia leads them to victory.
-- Kevin Gilbert