The Daily Gazette is reprinting excerpts of the late Larry Hart’s long-running column, “Tales of Old Dorp.” Today, Hart brings in a history specialist who remembers when parties and carousing were part of social fashion of the 1920s. This column originally was published April 7, 1981.
Isabelle Cullen, who has become a regular contributor to this column, sent in a bit about “Twenty in the Twenties.”
“Being in your twenties in the Roaring Twenties was a lark — the music, the dancing, the night spots. My favorite was the Edgewood just beyond Albany, and I have seen through this column that a certain Bellevue couple shares my memories of Frankie Carle and ‘Sunrise Serenade.’
“Since Johnstown paid the lowest teacher salary permitted by the state — $1,300 with annual increments of $75 — many of us [who taught there] were recent graduates. But the wonderful part of teaching there was that we were definitely part of the community. We were invited to the best homes for dinner, weekends at Canada Lake, dances at the Colonial Club and, if you were fortunate enough to have a member of the family in class, to garden parties at the Knox estate.
“When a few years later I moved to Gloversville to be head of the language department ($1,800 — Latin, French, German) the contrast was incredible. Although I loved the school and all my students, I did turn homeward for weekends.
“Of course, there was a great deal of drinking during this Prohibition era, which most of us (girls, at any rate) loathed, but we learned to gird ourselves with a few ounces of olive oil — not that difficult for a generation reared on castor oil. My initiation was an evening of drinking at Broadalbin Inn followed by a midnight crab meat salad supper at Maguire’s on Main Street, Johnstown, and then a tour of the tanneries.
“Roaring, indeed, were the Twenties, but among my students and contemporaries I never knew of one problem of alcoholism and only one teenage pregnancy — a far cry from the abominable Sixties and decadent Seventies.”
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