This post is a continuation of a series of “Then & Now” images from Lewis Reed’s Photo Collection alongside photographs of how they appear today. Lewis Reed worked hard to preserve a visual history of Montgomery County, Maryland and surrounding area long before automobiles were even around. As early as 1905, he toured on his motorcycle across the states of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. and took photographs of many historic locations. Taken approximately 115 years apart, you can see how the Smithsonian Institution Castle looks both the same and completely different from over a century ago.
Smithsonian Institution Castle (THEN): The Smithsonian Institution Building, popularly known as the “Castle,” was designed by architect James Renwick, Jr. Initially, the Castle was intended to be built in white marble and then in yellow sandstone. The architect and the building committee finally agreed on using Seneca red sandstone from the Seneca Quarry, located in Montgomery County, Maryland. When it was completed in 1855, it sat on an isolated piece of land cut off from downtown Washington, DC, by a canal. In the ensuing decades, the Castle became the anchor for the National Mall, as additional museums and government buildings were constructed around it.
Smithsonian Institution Castle (NOW): The same view over a century later. The Smithsonian Institution Castle, located near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. behind the National Museum of African Art and the Sackler Gallery, houses the Smithsonian Institution’s administrative offices and information center.
Veterans Day is a time to recognize the veterans in our lives — to honor their service for our country and show them that we appreciate their sacrifices made in our behalf. World War I began on July 28, 1914 and later ended on November 11, 1918. In commemoration of Veterans Day, this very special post is in honor of the contributions Sergeant Edgar Reed made for our country during World War I.
Edgar was a partner with his brother Lewis Reed, in Reed Brothers Dodge. I never got to know my great uncle Edgar like the rest of the Reed family, because he passed away the year after I was born. My mother told me she took me to the hospital right after I was born to meet Edgar, but of course, I have no recollection of that. I do, however, feel like I know him through all of the family stories and photographs I have spent archiving over the last 10+ years.
On September 28, 1917 a draft for World War I began and the first 40 men reported for duty at the Montgomery County Court House in Rockville, Maryland. In the photograph below, cars are parked around the court house during the speech-making in the court room to drafted men. Montgomery County’s first recruits left Rockville by train for Camp Meade, Maryland on this same day. They each received a package of smoking tobacco and a rousing send-off from two thousand people after speeches at the courthouse, dinner at the Montgomery House Hotel, and a parade to the depot. About 160 Rockville men served in the eighteen-month war. One of those men was Rockville resident, Edgar Reed.
Edgar Reed (1890–1951) was born in Darnestown, Maryland on October 17, 1890. On February 26, 1918 at the age of 27 years old, Edgar was enlisted into the U.S. Army as a Private. At this time, he lived on Montgomery Avenue in Rockville. He had been employed by R.W. Vinson, Rockville druggist for eight years.
On April 27, 1918, Edgar was promoted to the rank of Private First Class, and on February 14, 1919, he was promoted to Sergeant. According to “Maryland Military Men, 1917-1918”, Edgar served as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from February 1918 to August 1919. He had been posted to GENERAL HOSPITAL NO. 16, NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT and GENERAL HOSPITAL NO. 11, CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY.
The spirit of patriotic service which swept the country prompted many persons to offer their properties to the War Department for hospital purposes. These offers included buildings of every conceivable kind, such as department stores, private establishments, hospitals, and properties in large cities. It was found that many of these could be obtained and converted into hospitals much more expeditiously than barrack hospitals could be constructed, and at less cost.
The Surgeon General recommended that the War Department authorize the leasing of the Hotel Cape May in New Jersey for use as a general hospital on December 18, 1917. The Hotel Cape May was located on the Ocean Drive, at the eastern end of the city, and within 100 feet of the beach of the Atlantic Ocean. Opened first as GENERAL HOSPITAL NO. 16, the designation was changed to GENERAL HOSPITAL NO. 11, March 14, 1918. The enlisted personnel were quartered in tents which were located to the rear of the building.
At eleven o’clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, World War I fighting came to an end when an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations went into effect. On August 4, 1919, Edgar was transferred to the Demobilization Center at Camp Lee, Virginia and was honorably discharged on August 6, 1919.
Pictured below is Edgar Reed’s World War I draft card, signed and dated June 5, 1917.
Below is Edgar Reed and friends returning home on the train after the war ended wearing the World War I “Victory Medal” on their lapels.
Edgar was fortunate enough to survive World War I and to settle back in Rockville and enjoy a successful life and career in the automobile business. After returning from the war in 1919, Edgar joined his brother in the business and the name changed to Reed Brothers Dodge. Edgar was in the automobile business with his brother, Lewis, for 35 years until his death in 1951.
So while we honor all who served this Veterans Day, on this day, I salute you Edgar Reed, and thank you for your service to our country.
Ever wondered how Montgomery County families celebrated Halloween 100 years ago? Thanks to the these photographs from Lewis Reed’s collection, we can travel all the way back to 1914.
At the turn of the century, women often wore their regular clothes topped with homemade masks. The first Halloween costumes were usually worn by women and reflected the idea of masquerades that was extremely popular in the early 1900s. People only began to buy manufactured costumes in the second and third decades of the 20th century.
Oh the good ol’ days, when wearing a mask was enough to be dressed up for celebrations! Do you know how your ancestors’ celebrated Halloween? Newspapers are a great source to get a better understanding of life in the past. This special post is a look back through newspaper articles and Lewis Reed’s photographs at how Halloween was celebrated 100 years ago.
Stocked Stores: Stores were stocked with all the Halloween supplies needed for a fun celebration. Below is an ad for costumes and masquerade suits for those participating in Halloween parties and other seasonal affairs.
Dancing and Parties: Halloween parties and dancing were enjoyed by many. Some announcements even included a list of guests in attendance!
Here is the description of a Halloween party from the Society Section of the November, 1916 issue of The Evening Star (Washington, District of Columbia):
A Halloween party was given last evening… and a merry evening spent by those present. The reception hall, living and dining rooms were artistically decorated with autumn leaves, lanterns, chrysanthemums and orange and black streamers. The evening was spent in old-fashioned games, concluding with the entire assemblage gathering about an open fireplace in the dark, while the guests were led by a ghost through various parts of the darkened home. The evening’s entertainment concluded with music, dancing and the serving of refreshments.
Any sort of Halloween festivities demanded some sort of refreshment. In addition to traditional pumpkin pies and molasses cookies, a suggested dish to serve at Halloween parties was a Halloween salad.
Halloween Pranks: Witches and goblins, ghosts and mischief-making youngsters were permitted to enjoy all the Halloween revelry they liked … BUT DON’T THROW FLOUR. Yes, apparently in the early 1900s, there wasn’t much to do for entertainment, so kids would knock on doors on Halloween night and throw flour at whoever answered. To the modern observer, some of the traditions of Halloween 100 years ago are downright bizarre.
Halloween Parades: Halloween parades actually began because pranks and mischief had gotten out of control. By 1920, there was a push to turn Halloween into a holiday centered around community gatherings and festive Halloween parades, rather than mischief.
Wishing all my friends, followers, and visitors of this blog a very safe and happy Halloween!
Back in the early part of the last century when the motorcycle was still new and a novelty, it was often used for Kodak moments. Lewis Reed has a number of photographs showing relatives and other unknown people on their motorcycles in the period of the early 1900s through the early 1920s. In a time when you could ride a motorcycle at age fourteen and on the roads there were more motorcycles than cars, sisters Eleanora, Geneva, and Eva Reed also appeared to also enjoy the thrills of motorcycling.
While women have been enthusiastic bikers ever since motorcycles were invented, they have had to push back against deeply ingrained attitudes. Women in the first half of the 20th century were expected to dress fashionably and conservatively, and above all, remain ladylike. Sitting astride a motorcycle was considered uncouth: the same as riding a horse with a leg on each side. During this time, female pioneers like Amelia Earhart and Annie Edson Taylor pushed the envelope of expectations for women and set the stage for the Roaring Twenties flapper era.
Instead of having a motorcycle as a source of transportation, gentlemen of the days oftentimes used it to spice up their sunny weekends and impress ladies. Outfit relevance dictated a gentleman to be presentable and neat, so when going for a spin, Edgar Reed is wearing a leather jacket, full-length boots, necktie and sporty cap with goggles.
The above photo is, without question, one of the best posed photos on a motorcycle that I have come across in my grandfather’s albums. The toddler’s sporty little cap and goggles make the image. Just imagine how excited she must have been to sit on that big machine.
On this date 90 years ago the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department held its first annual carnival.
From The Daily News, Frederick Maryland, August 10, 1932:
At a special meeting of the department August 5 it was unanimously voted that a carnival should be held on the Fairgrounds from September 3 to 10, inclusive. The first event will be a fireman’s parade and hook-up contests with three cups being offered as prizes. Other items of interest will be the baby show, the old-fashioned square dance, and the public wedding. An automobile and fifteen cash prizes are to be given away during the carnival.
The Carnival Parade
The carnival parade always kicked off the celebrations and were held on the first day, with the intent of drawing the spectators to the carnival grounds. There were always a few high school bands in the lineup, and most of the floats were simple, many being your average flatbed farm wagons decorated with yards of colored crepe paper and sponsored by a local business. Following the procession, teams of 10 men each, engaged in a tug-of-war contests in front of the dancing pavilion at the fair ground.
The June 1960 Rockville Sanborn map below shows the location of the Rockville Fire Department Carnival Grounds. From what I have been able to piece together from newspaper archives, the carnival began in 1932 and closed sometime in the early 1970s. The carnival office and administrative building used to be the one-room doctor’s office built for and used by Dr. Edward E. Stonestreet from 1852 to 1903. It was donated to the Montgomery County Historical Society and moved to the complex in 1972.
All of the buildings, including flood lights, fencing and metal frames for carnival stands, on the 10-acre site on the Rockville Pike were permanent fixtures all year long and remained unused until the carnival. In 1947, a 70-foot dance pavilion with detachable side walls was built by labor and materials donated by members of the department and Rockville citizens. Over the years, department members built the 12 red and white wooden buildings on the grounds.
The Rockville Fire Department held its annual carnival during the month of August. The eight-night carnival was the staple of the organization’s fundraising for several decades. Locals came to the carnival every year to enjoy the rides, win raffle prizes, listen to the live music every night and most importantly, to eat the food. It was the perfect place to catch up with friends, ride a few rides and maybe win a gold fish that might actually remain alive by the time you got home.
Valuable prizes given away nightly. Prizes by General Electric:
- 4-Speed Record Player
- Vacuum Cleaner
- Portable Transistor Radio
- Roll Around Fans
- Toaster Ovens
All prizes — including the automobiles, and the items like vacuum cleaners and record players as grounds prizes — were bought by the Department. Nothing was donated except the time and work of the volunteers.
Not One, Not Two, but Three…
It is exciting to note that for many years, a car was the grand prize given away at the carnival. Three spanking new automobiles were awarded to lucky ticket holders.
Beauty Contest, Wedding to Highlight Carnival
A public wedding and a bathing beauty contest for “Miss Rockville” highlighted the eight-night carnival on August 12, 1949. The contest winner receives $75 and have the honor of representing the firemen in a September contest at Sandy Spring for the title of “Miss Montgomery County Fireman of 1949.”
From The Evening Star, August 17, 1949:
Rockville’s Volunteer firemen are beginning to believe in sawdust wedding aisles as lucky omens.
All 17 couples who in as many years have been married in public at the Rockville fireman’s carnival have lived happily ever after – at least without a divorce.
And the firemen are counting on this year’s couple, Arthur Fleming, 21, Rockville Post Office employee, and his 18 year old bride, Dorothy Lucille Campbell Fleming of Gaithersburg to maintain that record. The two were married last night at the carnival, and like their predecessors, they spoke their vows over a loud speaker in view of a merry-go-round and walked down a sawdust aisle edged with 5,000 onlookers.
Chief W. Valentine Wilson originated the public wedding at the Rockville Carnival back in 1932. The firemen provided a $500 set of furniture, the wedding license, ring, minister, bridal gown, bridegroom’s and ushers’ white tie and tails and flowers.
Some of the town folk weren’t too much in favor of the idea and almost talked a town minister out of performing the ceremony. Later they found out the ceremonies are all very solemn affairs with no frivolity and bystanders even whimpered. For the 17 weddings, State Fireman’s Association Chaplain James C. Minter has conducted the ceremonies. Most of the nuptials ran smoothly, but the Chief remembered one that edged on the border line. That was the time a bridegroom, kneeling at the altar with his bride, whispered, “I can’t get up.”
As to why the marriages have been such successes, Fire Department General Counsel David E. Betts, thinks he has the answer: “If they love each other enough to be married at a carnival public wedding under the populace’s eyes, they’ve got enough love to hold them together for life.”
Music has been a big part of the carnival over the years too, as big-name country acts performed at the fairgrounds. There were floor shows each night featuring artists such as Conway Twitty & the Twittybirds, Loretta Lynn, Buck Owens, Jimmy Dean, Patsy Cline, the Osborne Brothers, and many others.
Nightly entertainment featured attractions such as a trapeze artist, hillbilly comedy, Punch and Judy show, old fashioned hoedowns, the Jamboree Boys of television fame, a western rope spinning and whip act, thrilling acrobatic on the slack wire, comedy juggling act by Billy Dale, the Ringling Brothers circus clown, and the Blue Mountain Boys. And nightly dancing in the Pavilion to the music of Sid Graham’s “Five Tones.”
Also appearing were the Shirleyettes with Linda Rita Peluzo, a versatile young lady who danced, sang, and played the accordion. The Eng Sisters, a Chinese trio, entertained with modern song. Carol Bo Barnstead, a flaming baton twirler, appeared with the young Jean Kruppa and Bert Bottamilla on drums.
From The News, Frederick MD 07 August 1965:
Local talent such as the Rockville Municipal Band under the direction of Frank Troy, the Tune Twisters with the Darnell Sisters, and Johnny Glaze and the Night Hawks will round out the entertainment for the two week period. Proceeds from the carnival will go toward payment of a $15,000 Miller-Meteor Cadillac ambulance and a $62,000 Peter Pirsch, 100 foot aerial ladder which were put into service to meet the demands of a growing community.
“Dime to play, dime to win, come on in!” The games – The Duck Pond, simply pick up a floating rubber duck out of the water, turn it over to see your prize. Dunk Tank, Rifle Range, Hoop-la (throw hoops around pegs), Balloon Pitch, Teddy Bear Toss (get ring completely around bear stand for 1st prize), Guess Your Age, Cigarette Wheel (spin the wheel and win unfiltered cigarettes)… Lucky Strikes, Camels, and other horrible brands. Lamps (ring toss over miniature lamps was a lot harder than it looked). Panda Bear Stand, ring a coke bottle to win one. Test your strength on the “High Striker” (driving a puck up a tower with a hammer to ring the bell). Rifle Range, 25 cents for shots with a carnival rifle at rotating ducks you just fired away for prizes. And for those a bit older, the favorite game was Bingo.
The closest thing to “big” trouble the carnival ever had was the escape of a mouse from the “guess-which-hole” mouse game. A stand that year featured a game in which a live mouse was put on a board with several numbered holes. Players bet on which hole the mouse would choose. When the mouse was put on the board, it got scared and ran away! It was the only mouse, so two firemen had to chase it all over the grounds to catch it. The game was discontinued after that incident.
In 1935, county residents, in a special referendum, gave the Fire Department and other non-profit community and church groups the right to hold raffles and bingo games.
The heart of the historic fireman’s carnival was the rides – Ferris Wheel, Kiddy Automobiles, Merry-Go-Round, Kiddy Aeroplanes, Scrambler, Loop-O-Plane, Round Up, Dipper Dive Bomber, Octopus, Paratrooper, Live Pony Rides, Kiddy Train, Kiddy Boat Ride, Space Chaser and Tank Ride. The rides were operated by a commercial firm. Everything else was staged or staffed by the volunteer firemen and their families, plus friends of the department who donated their time. For parents, a lot of enjoyment came from seeing their kids having such a good time. Below are a few samples (only) of the rides that were featured at the carnival.
This ride is fast — really fast. Proving that rides don’t have to go high to make you question all of your choices, The Scrambler is something you shouldn’t ride if you’ve eaten within your current lifetime. Picture this: the ride has three arms. On the ends of each of those arms are clusters of individual cars, each on a smaller arm of its own. When the Scrambler starts, the main arm and the little arms all rotate. The outermost arms are slowed and the inner arms are accelerated, creating an illusion of frighteningly close collisions between the cars and passengers. The Scrambler proves that you don’t have to go on a roller coaster to lose your lunch or have the wits scared out of you.
One of the most entertaining rides that you can go on at any carnival is called The Octopus. The arms go up and down multiple times during the ride, but it is the spinning action of the ride itself which causes the carts to automatically spin, making this one of the most fun rides ever created.
The Paratrooper, also known as the Parachute Ride or Umbrella Ride is a type of carnival ride where the seats are suspended below a wheel which rotates at an angle. The seats are free to rock sideways and swing out as the wheel rotates.
The Tilt-a-Whirl ride wildly spins in countless directions at variable speeds. Calculated chaos ensued. Those who look a little green or lose their lunch of hot dogs, cotton candy, and soda pop are probably just coming off a Tilt-a-Whirl.
The Loop-O-Plane is just what it sounds like: Mechanical arms take riders, over and over, in a stomach flip-flopping, upside-down-turning loop.
The Round Up has been a popular ride on the American carnival midway since the 1950s. Riders stand against the wall and as the barrel begins to spin, they are stuck to the wall. The barrel soon raises in the air at a 70 degree angle.
Did I mention the food? Carnivals are a feast for the senses. The smells of food floods the air with the toasty, oily, salty smell of french fried potatoes mingled with scents of buttered popcorn, spicy pizza, burgers, hot dogs, and other tasty treats. Those french fries in a paper cone with vinegar… didn’t you just love those french fries? There was fried chicken that Colonel Sanders would have to salute. And as if that was not enough, there was snack time. The night would not be complete without cotton candy or a caramel apple. And I would be remiss to not mention the infamous funnel cake, which is either loved or hated; there is no middle ground.
For hundreds of children who grew up in the Rockville area, the carnival is where they held their first job. It was such a great tradition and a real community effort. Unfortunately, due to increased call volume, the fire department had to end the annual event. Carnival revenue has since been replaced by a combination of public funding, private donations, and commercial income.
It made a lot of money for the fire department, and by the end of each evening there were quite a few happy young girls to be seen in the crowd, carrying a large stuffed animal and accompanied by a smiling young man.
Sources of Information:
Library of Congress digital collection of Sanborn maps
Chronicling America digitized newspapers
Newspapers.com historical newspapers