1918 Season

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1918 Season
Manager(s) Will D. Harris (operating lessee)
Will D. Harris Amusement Company
Joseph W. and Will J. Dusenbury
a.k.a. Dusenbury Brothers
The Olentangy Park Company
Opening Day March 31, 1918 (Sunday only)
May 5, 1918 (three days a week)
May 26, 1918 (Daily)
Closing Day September 2, 1918 (Saturday & Sunday) October 1918
New Attractions Ye Olde Mill (rebuilt)
Over-The-Top
The Whip
Stock Company Grau Musical Comedy Co.
Stock Manager Matt Grau
Band(s) Philip Cincione Band
Harris' Olentangy Park Orchestra (directed by Charles Parker)

Olentangy Park opened its season on Easter Sunday, March 31, 1918. It was open for Sundays only at first.[1] Due to demand, it opened for Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays after May 5, with the Dance Pavilion open only on Sundays.[2][3] The park fully opened for daily operation on May 26, 1918.[1] Charles Parker and his new 15-piece orchestra, "Harris' Olentangy Park Orchestra," performed in the Dancing Pavilion while Philip Cincione's Band gave free concerts throughout the season.[4][5] Parking for automobiles was free, and 11,000 people visited on opening day despite it being so early in the year.[6][3]

Will D. Harris and his new company, Will D. Harris Amusement Company, leased the park from J.W. and W.J. Dusenbury and their company, The Olentangy Park Company, maintained ownership. Harris organized the Will D. Harris Amusement Company in order to take over the management of the park,[7] signing the lease in January 1918, starting on March 5, 1917, and lasting four years and eight months. The total rental was $125,000 (over $2.3 million in 2022).[8]

The park ended daily operation for the season on Labor Day, September 2, 1918, switching to Saturdays and Sundays only until October.[9][10]

Improvements to the Park

Manager Harris spent $250,000 (over $4.65 million in 2022) on improvements for the 1918 season[1] adding two major attractions, Over-The-Top and The Whip, and rebuilding Ye Olde Mill.[11][12][4] The rides were repainted and checked for safety and the Swimming Pool was painted inside and out with white enamel.[13]

Rides and Attractions

New Over-The-Top

Main Article: Over-the-Top / The Racer

Manager Harris began building the Derby Racer.[14] Later named Over-The-Top, the racer roller coaster had two cars started at the same point in time, and the occupants of each raced to see who would win. Only four of these types were constructed in the world when the building began. The Columbus Sunday Dispatch claimed it was "one of the most expensive park rides that have been invented."[11] It was 82 feet tall and 1.25 miles in track length.[14]

New Whip Ride

Main Article: The Whip

The Whip was a flat ride where riders got whipped around the corners where they changed direction.

Rebuilt Ye Olde Mill

Main Article: Ye Olde Mill (Second)

Ye Olde Mill was redesigned and rebuilt further north than the original ride with its name that burned down in 1911. The ride was built along new lines, and electrical lighting was installed throughout the ride, where riders encountered weird scenes.[11] It was the only ride in the country at the time to use concrete channels for the water to carry boats "through the brilliantly-lighted and wonderfully-decorated channels, which extend in a zig-zag way for almost a mile."[12]

List of Rides and Attactions

Activities

List of Activities

Musical Performances

Charles Parker created a large new orchestra named "Harris' Olentangy Park Orchestra." They performed in the Dancing Pavilion ballroom while Philip Cincione's Band returned this season and gave daily free outdoor concerts.[4][5]

Theater Performances

The Olentangy Park stock was gathered by Matt Grau under the name of "Grau Musical Comedy Co."[15] and the season was to begin the week of Monday, June 10, 1918,[16][17][18] but the first show opened on Monday, June 3.[15] Grau wanted musical comedy acts all season and spent close to $10,000 ($186,191 in 2022) per week to secure the actors.[18]

Before opening, the Northwood Avenue School presented "The Fairies of the Seasons" on May 17, and child star Verna Fulton performed "The Pipes of Pan."[19]

Indianola School performed "Bargain Day at Bloomstein's" starring Carrie Kilbourne and 29 other dancing girls on June 1.[20]

The theater company moved to the Grand Theater, owned by Will D. Harris, to continue performing through the winter.[21]

Dispatch Contest

There were 23 pieces of a photograph in the May 26 issue of the Columbus Sunday Dispatch of "the pretty maidens from 'The Grau Musical Comedy Club.'"[22] Readers who cut out the 23 pieces and place them together properly could send them in to Dispatch with the advertisers' information to be entered into a contest with the following prizes:

  • First place prize - One entire box for three performances on June 3, June 10, and June 27, an $18 value ($335 in 2022 dollars)
  • Second place prize - One entire box for two performances on June 4 and June 11, a $12 value ($223 in 2022 dollars)
  • Third place prize - One entire box for Wednesday night, June 5, and two box seats for June 12 and June 19, a $10 value ($186 in 2022 dollars)
  • Fourth place prize - One entire box for Monday night, June 3, and two box seats for June 10, a $8 value ($149 in 2022 dollars)
  • Fifth place prize - One entire box for Tuesday night, June 4, and two box seats for June 6, a $6 value ($112 in 2022 dollars)
  • 25 other winners a varying amount of orchestra seat tickets for different performance dates, ranging from $1 - $3 ($18.62 - $55.86 in 2022)

Winifred S. Fink was awarded first prize on June 2.[23]

Members

[15][24]

  • Roger Gray, lead actor/comedian, director
  • Berta Donn, lead actress
  • Ferne Rogers, actress/prima donna
  • Flavia (or Flavio) Arcoro, actress
  • Della Rose, actress
  • Mary Dunigan, actress
  • Arthur Burckly, actor
  • George Natanson, actor
  • Ditmar Peppen, actor/comedian
  • Margaret Crawford, actress
  • Dan Marble, general utilities
  • Ralph Nichols, orchestra leader
  • Sid Riley, scenic artist
  • Earnest Rand, costumer
  • Henrietta Hausen
  • Rajal Cuttes
  • Chorus of 16 women and at least eight men

Berta Donn was only 18 years old and was described as "very pretty."[18]

Performances

Tickets were 25 cents to 75 cents ($4.65 to $14 in 2022).[25]

Dates Performance Writer Genre Headliners Notes
June 3 - 9, 1918 "The Firefly" Comedy Berta Donn [15]
June 10 - 16, 1918 "The Red Mill" Comedy [26]
June 17 - 23, 1918 "A Modern Eve" Comedy [26]
June 24 - 30, 1918 "Robin Hood" Comedy [27]
July 1 - 7, 1918 "Princess Pat" Comedy [27]
July 8 - 14, 1918 "Naughty Marietta" Comedy [28]
July 15 - 21, 1918 "The Folly of Columbus" Comedy [29]
July 22 - 28, 1918 "Little Boy Blue" Comedy [30]
July 29 - August 4, 1918 "The Only Girl" Comedy [31]
August 5 - 11, 1918 "The Chocolate Soldier" Comedy [32]
August 12 - 18, 1918 "The Red Widow" Comedy [33]
August 19 - 25, 1918 "The Mikado" Comedy [34]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "The New Olentangy." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 23 March 1918. Pg. 54.
  2. "Park Open Three Days Weekly." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 5 May 1918. Pg. 41.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Free Parking for Automobile." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 16 May 1918. Pg. 20.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Good Music for the Park." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 31 March 1918. Pg. 51.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Big Orchestra for Park." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 11 April 1918. Pg. 22.
  6. "Olentangy Opens Earliest of Most American Parks." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 6 April 1918. Pg. 12.
  7. "Incorporate Park Company." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 16 January 1918. Pg. 9.
  8. "Park Lease Filed." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 18 January 1918. Pg. 14.
  9. "Park Open Till Labor Day." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 25 August 1918. Pg. 52.
  10. "Park and Its Days." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 7 September 1918. Pg. 12.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "Lavish Park Plans." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 23 September 1917. Pg. 56.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Park Novelties." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 31 March 1918. Pg. 51.
  13. "Real Opening of Park Season." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 26 May 1918. Pg. 41.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Are You Going Over the Top?" Columbus Evening Dispatch. 27 April 1918. Pg. 12.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 "Park to Open With 'The Firefly.'" The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 19 May 1918. Pg. 40.
  16. "Tenor Lend for Park Stock." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 24 April 1918. Pg. 18.
  17. "Park Stock Plan." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 5 May 1918. Pg. 41.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 "Picking for Park." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 12 May 1918. Pg. 62.
  19. "Child Dancer in Fairy Operetta." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 17 May 1918. Pg. 19.
  20. "Pupils to Play at Park." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 30 May 1918. Pg. 18.
  21. "Park Cast to Stay," The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 4 August 1918. Pg. 46.
  22. "Olentangy Park Theater." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 26 May 1918. Pg. 25.
  23. "Winners in Theater Advertising Contest." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 2 June 1918. Pg. 8.
  24. Maxine, David. "The Pandemic Performance of 1918." The Wizard of Oz on Broadway. 26 November 2020. Accessed 14 May 2022. https://www.vintagebroadway.com/2020/11/ [1]
  25. "Park's Great Opening Day." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 27 May 1918. Pg. 16.
  26. 26.0 26.1 "'A Modern Eve' This Eve." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 17 June 1918. Pg. 18.
  27. 27.0 27.1 "DeKoven Breaks Record." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 29 June 1918. Pg. 10.
  28. "Rotarians Make Merry." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 9 July 1918. Pg. 16.
  29. "Olentangy Park Company to Play Winter Run at Grand Theater." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 10 July 1918. Pg. 18.
  30. "Park's Future Repertory." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 13 July 1918. Pg. 10.
  31. "From Two Continents." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 27 July 1918. Pg. 10.
  32. "Theater is Comfortable." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 1 August 1918. Pg. 16.
  33. "Sweet Outlook for 'Chocolate.'" Columbus Evening Dispatch. 5 August 1918. Pg. 14.
  34. "Bargain Swimming Tickets." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 31 July 1918. Pg. 18.