The Healer and the Pirate

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter 1921

In 1921, Easter came a few weeks earlier than it does this year.

I had heard that scripted drama in church was a very modern phenomenon, but apparently not that new in the big cities:


Miracle Drama in Union Methodist, Mystery Play Before Altar of St. John the Divine.
Archbishop Hayes to Sing Mass--Bishop-elect Manning in Farewell Sermon as Trinity Rector.

--The New York Times, March 26, 1921

St. Patrick's Cathedral circa 2007

The article mostly details the Catholic masses at the beginning, and also at the very end. Tucked away a couple paragraphs from the bottom, it notes that Union Methodist Church at Forty-eight Street near Broadway will be putting on "a miracle play, 'The Resurrection of Our Lord.'" It lists the starring roles (Jesus is not a starring role; I assume it is more about the empty tomb).

"The Power of His Resurrection" is a mystery play by Carrol Lund Bates, put on at the Church of St. John the Evangelist at West Eleventh Street and Waverley Place. They haven't done a drama like that before.

More Colors Shown in Apparel in Other Parts of the City.
Outpouring Largest in City's History and East Side Children Were the Happiest.

--The New York Times, March 28, 1921

Back in the day, people used to wear their finest clothes for Easter, and then after church they would parade down Fifth Avenue. If the article is to be believed, they would parade by either walking, riding in an automobile, or riding on a bus or trolley. The article points out that other places, like "Lenox and Seventh Avenues and Riverside Drive, Grand Street and Mulberry Street, Brooklyn and the Bronx" had parades too, and with brighter and more interesting colors than the pretentions of Sixth Avenue.

It didn't rain as predicted, but there was a chill wind. They say that girls wore wraps over their short-sleeved, low-necked, sheer, summer clothes, and I think they're saying that men refused to put on their winter overcoats. They attribute the gaiety to the war (and its high prices) being over. (This was the first year in several that kids could afford to decorate REAL Easter eggs!)

The "Italian children" on Mulberry Street got to ride a small, hand-cranked merry-go-round for a penny a ride!


Week's Trade in Blooms Greater Than at This Season in Any Former Year.
Fifth Avenue and Broadway Shopping Districts Have Rush Like That Before Christmas.

--The New York Times, March 27, 1921

The article says that flowers were SO much cheaper that year (1921) versus the previous year, consumers just had to buy--and they were a higher quality than usual too, thanks to fortuitous weather! Interestingly, orchids used to come from overseas--there was nearly a shortage of orchids because they were trying to grow them in the US, which reduced the number of imports.

Astoundingly, "roses" were $4+, with a bunch of violets at $3, $5, and $6. "Spring flowers" were $3 to $6 a dozen.

Nowadays, many flowers come from overseas, again. notes that Columbia and Ecuador grow a lot of America's flowers, producing at least 90% of our roses, carnations, and chrysanthemums. Our prices today seem to be either similar to or maybe even reduced from the 1920s prices. The Inflation Calculator puts those $3 "spring flowers" at $36.24 in 2010. Many grocery stores have bouquets much cheaper than that nowadays, though $36.24 sounds right around what a florist would charge.

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