Historic Hood River
These gents are hanging out in front of the Liberty Theater at 308 Oak Street. The movie posters are always helpful for dating the images. “A Submarine Pirate” was a Mack Sennett comedy from 1915 starring Charlie Chaplin’s older half-brother. “The Hunt” was a 1915 release staring Ford Sterling. He appears in blackface as the “blackface horse groom.” The plot is similarly indecipherable. You can make out some of the racist imagery common in that era on the right edge of the frame.
“The Edge of the Abyss” was also a 1915 release. It’s a good example of a “lost film.” Highly flammable film stock and an industry cranking out films at an incredible pace combine with time so a very significant percentage of films produced are not known to exist anymore. A famous 1965 fire at an MGM vault destroyed much of the record of the silent film era.
Every once in a while a cache of film prints is found in storage in a building which was once a theater in some place like a remote corner of Australia and an important title is rediscovered. I am a fan of some of the many YouTube channels about lost (and sometimes found) films. Perhaps someday I’ll find an important film in the Museum archives?
As for the Liberty Theater, its location is now the plaza next to 310 Oak Street. Someday we’ll have to screen some films in that space.
Tags: 1910s, Liberty Theater, Oak Street, theater
Is the gentleman with a hand on his shoulder, an actor?
A history of Sydney and Charles Chaplin and movies found in a suitcase.
In 1913 Sydney signed with Keystone Studios in Portland.
All these movies were released 26 December 1915. “The Hunt” was slated to show 4/30/1916 – 5/1/1916. ” A Submarine Pirate” and “The Edge of the Abyss” was sheduled 5/2/1916 – 5/3/1916 at the New Electric Theater. The best part of seeing these movies would be listening to Vera Kolstad at the organ.
Arthur's comments on the “Blackface Horse Groom” and racist imagery brought to mind something I found when looking at old issues of the HR Glacier. Our old friend Maltie Dukes appeared in a local production of the dramatic play “Hearts of Gold”, put on by the I.O.G.T. Dramatic Troupe on Feb. 2, 1898 at the Armory Hall. After the main drama, they put on a comedic farce titled “The Mischievous N****r”. The ad for this play appears on page 2 in the Jan. 28 1898 issue of the HR Glacier.
This made me curious, so I did a search in old issues of the HR Glacier for use of the N-word. What came up was quite eye opening, almost shocking by today's standards. Hood River was a very racist place in those days, but probably not any different from the rest of the Pacific Northwest or much of the country at that time. From what I could tell, it appears the use of the N-word in Oregon newspapers was common up until about the early 1940's.
It will be interesting to see what content Facebook recommends for you now based on your recent search history.