Friday, October 2, 2015

Puttin’ on the Ritz

by Rachel Dworkin, archivist
Most people have a pretty good idea of what a 1920s-era flapper looked like, but do you know how a fashionable young man of the period would have looked?  Using examples from Sears catalogs, here’s a look at what the well-dressed man of the 1920s was wearing from the top of his hat to the tips of his shoes.

Hats – During the 1920s, no respectable person would be seen out of doors without a hat, and that included men.  Different types of men wore different types of hats.  Laborers wore the newsboy, professionals wore fedoras or homburgs, and summer sportsmen wore boaters.  For more information on men’s hats, check out this blog post for details.
All sorts of hats, 1929
Hair – A man’s hair was to be worn 5” to 7” long and was slicked down and back.  The sides and back were kept short.  To keep hair in place, not to mention looking glossy, men used hair oils like Hair Silk, Glostora or Brilliantine.  While the oils helped keep hair smooth and flat, they often stained hats, pillows, chair backs, and pretty much anything hair came in contact with.  
A selection of products to make your hair extra slick
Facial hair – These days the perma-stubble look is in, but in the 1920s, your average young man would have been clean-shaven.  A mustache, maybe, but anything more would be pushing it.  New technologies like safety razors made shaving a breeze.  For more on the history of shaving, check out this blog post.

Ties – The bowtie had been the preferred neckwear of the 1800s, but by the 1920s it was losing ground to the necktie.  Bowties, especially in vibrant colors and patterns, remained popular as summer wear, but for the rest of the year the necktie was king.  Bright colors and patterns were in, especially stripes.  Since most people wore them with three piece suits, ties tended to be short.  For formal wear, white bowties remained a must. 
I wish this ad was in color
Shirts and Collars – Victorian shirt collars were detached for easy washing and so starched they could stand on their own.  The 1920s were a period of transition between this older style and the attached, soft collars we have today. 
Note the mix of shirts with and without collars.
A selection of detachable collars, cuff links and garters for keeping up your socks.
Suits – For a gentleman out on the town, a three piece suit was a must.  Most older business men tended to wear double-breasted suits with slightly cinched-in waists and hip-length jackets.  Fashionable young men preferred the so-called Ivy League or Cake Eater suits which were single-breasted with narrow lapels, longer jackets and very wide pants.  Conservative dressers preferred darker, solid colors like Navy blue, black, dark gray or brown.  They younger set went in for lighter shades with stripes, chevrons and twills.  In the summer, less conservative types might often forgo the vest under the jacket. 
Fashionable young Cake Eaters and that one weird kid in a double-breasted suit
Shoes – The lace-up book had been the style for decades.  While they remained popular with workers and conservative types, the Oxford shoe became the style of the day.  Most were either brown or black, but two-toned shoes became popular in more casual settings.   

An assortment of Oxford shoes.
If you’d like to learn more about fashion in the 1920s, be sure to come to today’s Out to Lunch Lecture on life in the 1920s. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

I've Been Everywhere - Parks Edition

by Erin Doane, Curator

Mosaic of the Parks and Recreation exhibit logo
made from photos of Chemung County Parks.      
Created using AndreaMosaic  
This summer I took on the challenge of visiting every single park in Chemung County.  When I started, I thought there were 72. Along the way I discovered a couple more. In the end, I visited 81 parks. My first park was the Catlin State Forest on June 1. My last one was Linear Park in Horseheads two days ago. In between, I got to see an amazing variety of parks within the county. There are tiny neighborhood parks, expansive wilderness parks, amusement parks, boat launches, and memorial parks. Some are very well-cared-for and much-used while other, frankly, are quite sad. I have my favorites but it was definitely worth visiting every single one. In honor of my epic journey, I've borrowed a song from Geoff Mack and re-written it as so many have done before me.

I've Been Everywhere - Chemung County Parks Edition 

I was toting my pack along the Breesport North Chemung road
When along came a family in a Subaru with a camping gear load.
“If you’re goin’ to Park Station, Ma’am with us you can ride.”
And so I climbed into the back and sat with the kids inside.
The dad asked me if I’d seen a park with such natural bounty
And I said, “Listen, I’ve been to every park in Chemung County!”

I’ve been everywhere, man.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Walked the hills out there, man.
I’ve breathed the river air, man.
Parks, I’ve had my share, man.
I’ve been everywhere.

I’ve been to,
White Wagon 
Fawn Acres
Maple Grove
Maple Shade  
Ernie Davis   
Frank A. Rohde  
Gardner Road  
Breesport Community  
Sullivanville Dam
Marsh Dam
Hoffman Dam
So here I am.


I’ve been to,
Mark Twain Riverfront   
Mark Twain State Park
Patch Park
Teal Park
Brand Park
Grove Park
Sperr Park 
Mill Street Park
Mill Street Pond
Millers Pond
Brick Pond
Clemens Square
Golden Glow Heights 
Holding Point
Rails to Trails
Lackawanna Rail Trail
Catharine Valley Trail
It can’t fail.


I’ve been to,
Fitch’s Bridge
Ashland Toll Bridge  
Bottcher’s Landing
Roger Sterling 
Smith Boat Launch
Harris Hill Manor  
Plymouth Woods
Catlin Forest
Arnot Forest
Steege Hill
Maple Hill
Harris Hill
Barnes Hill  
There’s more still.


I’ve been to,
Minier Field
Town Hall Fields
Baptist Church Field
Newtown Battlefield
Pine Circle 
Katy Leary   
Meadowbrook Parkway
Magee Street  
Cypress Street  
Sly Street  
East Water Street  
Gaines Street 
Now I’m beat.

I’ve been everywhere, man.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Walked the hills out there, man.
I’ve breathed the river air, man. 
Parks, I’ve had my share, man.
I’ve been everywhere.

If you would like to see photos I took of all the parks visit!photographs/c1vit. There are also links from that page to information on the locations and amenities of each park.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Cereal Beverage and “High-Powered Beer” Scandal

By Kelli Huggins, Education Coordinator
When 18th Amendment and national Prohibition went into effect in 1920 (local prohibition went into effect in Elmira in 1918), brewers scrambled to find new ways to stay in business.  Some continued to produce beer illegally, but others found ways to work with the Volstead Act.  Under the new law, only “near beer” containing less than 0.5% alcohol could be produced and sold.  In fact, the law was so strict that this drink couldn’t even be labeled “near beer,” and instead had to be sold as “cereal beverage.”
Trade card for the Chemung Beverage Co.'s cereal beverage.
In May 1927, the Chemung Beverage Company of Elmira received a permit from the federal prohibition enforcement agency to produce cereal beverage for 4 months.  At that time, they were only one of only two breweries in New York State permitted to do so.  As part of the permit agreement, federal prohibition agents were to inspect the brewery regularly to make sure all of the near beer met the Volstead standards. The Chemung Beverage Company moved into the old Briggs Brewery building, which had been abandoned for over a year. Employees cleaned up rust and dust for almost two months to make the space operational. 
Plans for a Chemung Beverage Company building from several months before they were issued a permit. 
The Chemung Beverage Company didn’t stick with the “non-intoxicating beverage” business for long.  At 10pm on August 5, 1927, Federal prohibition investigator F.J. Raymond led a raid on the Chemung Beverage Company and discovered employees loading train cars with “high-powered brew.”  Employees Ed Kennedy, J. Heisler, Frank Schmalesberg, and Benjamin L. Heyman were arrested along with the owner and permit holder, Frank Teitlebaum .  There was an estimated $20,000 worth of beer at plant. 
The former Briggs Brewery building as it looked at the time of the Chemung Beverage raid.
In September, the Chemung Beverage Company officially got its cereal beverage permit revoked.  In November, prohibition agents disposed of the 63,756 gallons (2,024 barrels of high-test beer and 400 barrels of near beer) seized by dumping it into the sewers. The building was padlocked and guarded.
In the fallout, Teitlebaum and the other men involved received hefty fines.  In May of 1928, Roscoe C. Harper, the Prohibition chief for Western New York, and Donald V. Murphy, the Prohibition agent in Elmira, were arrested for conspiracy to violate the National Prohibition Act.  Harper was the person who granted the permit to Chemung Beverage Company a year before.  The corruption and flouting of the Volstead Act continued in the city (as evidenced by the many subsequent raids of other brewers) until Prohibition was repealed in 1933.