THIS DAY IN 1918 IN THERECORD

The Record (Troy, NY) - - COMMUNITY -

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

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