The Healer and the Pirate

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Coney Island and Memorial Day - 1921

Looking back at Marie Curie:


Spends Sunday With Mrs. N.F. Brady--Returns to Town Tonight.

--The New York Times, May 30, 1921

The article mentions that Ms. Curie's daughters planned to visit Coney Island! It also denies she had radiation sickness from the radium! (She actually died in 1934.)


300,000 Rush to Shelter--Railway Entrances Flooded.

--The New York Times, May 30, 1921

The story describes the Sunday before Memorial Day. There was a 6 PM thunderstorm/rainstorm that flooded the entrances to the elevateds at West Eight Street and the West End terminal. It was so bad they reportedly constructed footbridges to get people in! One woman was injured. (Elsewhere, a 20-year-old drowned at the Rockaways.)

300,000 at Coney Island.

Two Girls Saved from Undertow by Guards--One Dry Arrest.

--The New York Times, May 31, 1921

The sky was overcast on Monday, Memorial Day, evidently, so people came in the afternoon. (I wonder if Sunday's flooding kept people back--after that rainstorm, I'd hesitate to go out in the clouds too!) The sun came out in the afternoon, making it the biggest day thus far in the season. There were a lot of tourists, and the crowds were mostly orderly, with just one person arrested under Prohibition.

The article also notes that Gertrude Maddock, 7 years old, fell out of a car on "The Scrambler," lacerating her scalp. She was treated at the Coney Island Hospital so it sounds like she was fine.

Lots of old Coney Island articles at!

And speaking of Memorial Day, on May 3, 1921, President Warren Harding emphasized that Memorial Day was to honor all war dead, not just Civil War veterans.

Harding, in Memorial Day Proclamation, Asks General Homage to War Dead on May 30.

--The New York Times, May 4, 1921

Looks like it wasn't formally made a rotating holiday (last Monday of May) until 1971! So this year we get the "true" Memorial Day on May 30, as people celebrated in the 1860s and beyond.

This New York Times column from May 30, 1921 describes the history of Memorial Day, claiming the holiday was originally intended to remember Civil War dead (this page collaborates). But, the author says, later generations forgot and made it into a holiday. By 1921, though, thoughts went back to the World War in Europe. The author calls for bringing back the spirit of Memorial Day--at least to "pause for gratitude and benediction" amid the recreation. Good idea.

The New York Times also has an article about a Memorial Day speech by President Warren Harding, too.

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