Friday, September 9, 2016

Musing on the 1899 Garden Bazaar

I found this illustration yesterday from the Nov 21, 1899 Post Intelligencer.  The 1899 Garden Bazaar put on by the newborn Ladies Auxiliary of the newborn Temple de Hirsch.  The congregation got together that very same year.  March?  August?  I'll have to figure that out.  But a very short time later the Ladies Auxiliary (which, at the beginning, was limited to unmarried women, which meant daughters at that time), put on this elaborate affair in the Armory (which I believe was a building downtown, not the Armory at Seattle Center).  The made over 3K which was enough to buy their lot at Marion St. and Boylston Avenue.  They built a first story but, a few years later, when they had enough to complete the building, they discovered it would be too small.

I'm stunned at the size of the undertaking.  They did not originate this idea, charity bazaars had been around throughout the 19th century, especially in England.

The PI described the scene:

No one in entering could fail to be impressed with the beauty of the scene.  A canopy of green was overhead, made of evergreens in long festoons, and through the spaces gleamed in bold relief the bright color of national flags and bunting.  On the floor everything was a turmoil of merriment.  Young ladies in charming gowns were on all sides beseeching the unwary man to “buy, buy, buy.”  Some of them are dressed as gypsies who told fortunes, others were in Japanese costumes selling Japanese of all kinds, and the pretty “Rebekah” induced everyone to buy lemonade from her well.  In all the booths were colored lights, some of the displays being most elaborate, and the gleaming out in the relief from the evergreens and flowers made an artistic and charming ensemble.

It was somewhat formula, the Japanese booth, Rebekah at the well, etc.  A precursor to today's fund-raising auction.  But these were so elaborate.  An earlier article declared that 100 builders and decorators had worked into the night to get it ready.

Most organizations wouldn't even attempt something of this scope now.  Nobody has time any more.  Also, the successful merchants had to buy in.  The women sold items; they had to get those items from somewhere.  So all the adults we in on it, sharing the risk.

And, now, the event even if it is elaborate like this would get no press.  No way for those 117 years from now to hear about the event. 

Will we lose our present in the future?

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