Bijou Dream Theatre

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, May 6, 1911: Ruth and I went to Milton this afternoon. I wanted to get my teeth filled but as the dentist was absent I was forced to wait until another day. While there we went into the theatre on Broadway.

Bijou Dream Theatre Ticket (Source: Milton Historical Society)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I get caught up in the story of Grandma’s life—and have worried that she has had a toothache since April 11 (and again mentions the pain on April 15 and 18), but has not treated it.

I feel relieved that Grandma finally tried to visit the dentist—and disappointed that he wasn’t there. (I guess this was the era before appointments.) Hopefully she’ll goon get the tooth fixed.

The Movies

In 1911 Milton had a movie theater on Broadway called the Bijou Dream that showed silent movies.

Advertisement in Milton Evening Standard, May 5, 1911

It looks like four short films were being shown in May 1911. In case it’s difficult to read the description of the movies in the photo above, I’ll reprint the description for  the first movie.

 No. 1. The Mother—

The home of a lonely widow is visited by gossipy neighbors, conveying the sad news of the conviction of her only son on a charge of murder—a son she had not seen for fifteen years, and had mourned as dead. The devotion of a mother’s undying love for her boy, and determination not to desert him in the hour of need, is aroused. Going to the prison she pleads to see her boy. To save her breaking heart, the son does not recognize her as his mother, that he may save her disgrace and pain. She is not convinced and leaves heavy hearted, but ever determined. She hastens to the governor and intercedes, but of no avail. The death warrant is read, and all preparation for the execution made, when the governor receives a telegram that the real murderer has made a deathbed confession to save the innocent man. Phone is out of order and a human life is at stake. The governor’s daughter makes a wild ride and reaches the prison just in time with the reprieve.

Whew, what melodrama in the old silent films. I can almost hear dramatic music (played by a live pianist) reaching a crescendo as the governor’s daughter makes the wild ride trying to reach the prison before the execution.

Milton A Hundred Years Ago

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, May 2, 1911: Ruth and I went to Milton this morning. Her highness got a dress and a pair of pumps. Don’t know when I will get mine, perhaps next winter.

Postcard showing Marsh Shoe Store in Milton a hundred years ago (postally used December, 1910).

Advertisement in Milton Evening Standard, May 4, 1911

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

We’re five months into the diary–and even though Milton is probably only about 5 miles from the Muffly farm–this is the first time that it is mentioned in the diary. The only towns previously mentioned were McEwensville, Watsontown, and Turbotville. Whew, by today’s standards, Grandma never got very far from her home.

A trip to Milton probably felt like a trip to the big city.

A hundred years ago Milton had a humming downtown with lots of wonderful stores. Back then there were trolley tracks that ran between Watsontown and Milton, so Grandma and her sister Ruth probably walked to Watsontown and then took the trolley to Milton.

Milton Postcard, circa 1911 (Source: Milton Historical Society)

The trolley system was dismantled a few years after the diary was written:

 With the automobile came on the scene in the early years of the twentieth century, the trolley business began to slack. After a sharp decline in business, the L.M. & W. trolley company changed to gasoline buses in 1922. Even the buses couldn’t complete with the automobile and service ended in the early 1930s.

George Venios in Chronicles and Legends of Milton (2002)

An aside: I had a wonderful visit with George Venios, Deb Owens, and Joan Nunn at the Milton Historical Society yesterday. I enjoyed learning more about Milton, and they shared many wonderful artifacts with me including the early postcard in today’s posting. Additional Milton pictures from the historical society will illustrate future posts. Thank you!

I’d also like to thank the Milton Public Library and the Montgomery House Library for their awesome assistance with finding and navigating my way through old issues of the Milton Evening Standard and the Watsontown Record and Star. I’ll be periodically sharing materials from those newspapers.


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