This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
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All-American Girls

13 September 2013

"LADIES, PLEASE! Pay attention.
Once again from the beginning."

"Look over there. Is that who I think it is?
Do you suppose he can see us?"

"Hey! That's sharp! Watch what you're doing, Virginia."

Yes it was a fine day to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Founding of Kingston, New York. Actually three days - May 30, 31, June 1, 1908. The bleachers had 13 rows specially built strong enough to hold 452 young ladies of Kingston. Their costumes were cleverly designed with blue, red, and white capes and contrasting white and red coronets. Technically the 46 starlet ladies were not appropriate for the current 1908 flag of the United States which had been around since Utah was admitted to the Union in 1896 as our 45th state. But the organizers of Kingston's All-Lady Flag must have decided to rearrange the upper left corner in anticipation of Oklahoma becoming the 46th state one month later on July 4, 1908.

The good people of Kingston, NY evidently had some difficulty choosing a year to celebrate the 250th anniversary of their city. The arithmetic would make that 1658, but according to the Friends of Historic Kingston, the real date was 1652 when the Dutch established a town on the Hudson River called Esopus, named after the local Native Americans of the Esopus tribe. The settlement was renamed Wiltwijck in 1658 by Peter Stuyvesant, who was the Director General of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. That was the foundation year they used in 1908, even though the Dutch gave over their colony to the English in 1664, who then renamed the town Kingston. When the British colonies formed the United States of America in 1776, Kingston was briefly the first capital of New York until the British burned the city in October 1777 shortly after the Battle of Saratoga. History is never simple.

Daily Kennebec Journal, Maine
May 29, 1908

In fact, the Kingston 250th anniversary celebration was carefully coordinated with another memorial event, the re-burial of the body of  George Clinton (1739 -1812), 1st Governor of New York,  and 4th Vice President of the United States under Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.  (There was no family relation to Bill Clinton, the 42nd US President)

Vice President Clinton, who was also a brigadier general in the Continental Army, had been buried in Washington D.C. after his death in office in 1812. But he was exhumed in 1908 and brought to Kingston, where he had served as New York's first governor. This was a major event that involved a military escort, a parade down Broadway in New York City, and attendance at the re-interment in a Kingston cemetery by many politicians and dignitaries of the day, including President Teddy Roosevelt.

This was the special context of pomp and ceremony that explains why 452 young ladies were assembled into a giant human flag.

The young ladies appear to be singing. They are led by the woman conducting in front with her baton in a blur.  Can you spot the two girls who were moved from a white stripe to a red? What did their mother have to say about that?

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where everything this weekend is made in America.


Titania said...

This time colour would be an advantage. The photos are marvellous and the captions funny and to the point, I guess!

Gail Perlee said...

The pictures of the girls forming a human flag are wonderful & I love your funny comments. I, too, have fun doing that with pictures. Many's the time you don't see, when you take the photo, that someone has the perfect expression on their face just begging for a funny line. I wonder what happened with those two girls who wound up wearing muffed up capes? Reminds me of the time I was supposed to wear something brown because our 2nd grade class were being Indians in a Thanksgiving play - except I told my mother I had to wear my new pink party dress. Luckily I had a brown checked coat that covered up the pink party dress, but my poor mother must have been mortified. Sorry Mom!

Anonymous said...

History is never simple but you explained thatf well. Tableaux like the posed flag were not uncommon but always interesting. I don't suppose the two clintons were connected, or were they.

Liz Needle said...

Love it. There is always one not doing the right thing. I have 40plus years of school group photos and there is always one!!

Postcardy said...

That's a great photo. Until I saw the complete photo, I thought the first photos were different groups.

Sharon said...

It would have been a wonderful sight but none of them look happy to be there!

L. D. said...

What a wonderful find in these pictures. It probably seemed to be a very big deal for those who made it happen. I don't think some of the young girls are as happy about it. I see one person was absent in the red section in one of the top pictures.

Wendy said...

I must be taking slow pills because I was oblivious to the progression of the girls forming a flag until POP there it was. I enjoyed the little surprise immensely though.

Karen S. said...

Surprise, surprise! Too funny. I really like that opening comment, and it makes me wonder, was there something that might have been taking attention? Excellent post!

Karen S. said...

Just thinking, this would be a fun thing for students to do for say Flag day or some other important day where we want to show off our flag, which is an excellent one with all the stars and stripes to do. You've got me thinking!

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

Great post for this week's challenge.

Jackie van Bergen said...

Clever post, and clever too the organisation of the girls - quite a task.
Agree with others, wouldn't this be wonderful in colour!?

Deb Gould said...

I nearly fell over when I read the source of the Clinton's Remains article -- I live just south of where the Daily Kennebec Journal was published (and still is published)! What a small world! And your photo is hysterical (especially the sharp reference one).

Little Nell said...

I realised what it was going to be only when I saw the girls holding stars. They don't look very happy and perhaps they're a little cold. I don't think they're singing - not animated enough, but I think the lady at the front is orchestrating their positions.


In that 3rd pic, in a white row near the bottom, dead center, one seemed to have a jolly good time while looking at the woman to her right...


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