Highlights from

The Herald Democrat

100 Years Ago


But When Rain Ceased Avenue Sports and

Pastimes Gave Crowds Plenty of Fun and


Tuesday, July 5, 1921


A persistent rain that was so steady in the forenoon as to “smear” all but the parade and the band music, and that came back intermittently thruout the day, failed to dampen the Independence Day spirit of the crowds along Harrison avenue yesterday. Particularly was this the case with the boys and girls, hundreds of whom were on hand with a number of older people when the parade started down the avenue from before the Hotel Vendome.

After a couple of hours the rain ceased, and it became possible to estimate how soon the avenue would be dry enough for the contests to begin. The steady rain with shut-in gray skies was disheartening to the grown-ups, the majority of whom quickly disappeared in the direction of their homes. Not so the kids. They stayed by the show thruout, most of them taking refuge under awnings and in doorways, some of them running about regardless of the moisture, but all sticking close as possible to the band which was the only feature of the entertainment that persisted thru the rain.

After the first pieces played, the band took refuge under the awning before the Hotel Vendome and played there for the rest of the forenoon. The musicians were very generous in number of pieces, playing with only short pauses thruout the forenoon. The kids stayed around by the hundreds listening to the music and touching off their firecrackers, apparently not bothered in the least by the weather.

Considering the state of the weather thru which it passed, the parade was very much a success. Some twenty cars crawled down the avenue behind the band and then loitered back again, all the way thru the rain, to the apparent great satisfaction of the boys and girls along the way.

The speaker of the day was Father Louis Geary, professor at Jefferson College in New Orleans. Father Geary was born and brot up in Leadville and achieved a splendid reputation here, both personally and as a speaker. He was one of the four-minute men in Leadville during the war and was very active in this capacity.

Father Geary’s speech last night bore the stamp of his intimate acquaintance here. His theme was “Optimism and Americanism,” and he defined the latter as being a natural and inevitable concomitant of the former. He made a local application of the idea of optimism, pointing to it as the means of financial salvation of this community.

Father Geary spoke from the court house steps shortly after 9 p. m. As a preliminary to his speech, Carl Peterson sang two songs very acceptably, altho handicapped by his inability to use a megaphone, the time having been too short to learn any music by heart for megaphone use. He led the audience in the national anthem at the close of the long part of the program.

The full program of sports was run off despite an extremely muddy street. The rain delayed the program till the afternoon, but as soon as the drizzle let up shortly after noon, the list was attacked and run off briskly. An announcer on horseback rode the length of the avenue and called the events to the large crowd moving up and down the various corners according to the location of the contests.

A number of citizens were busy all day with details of the celebration, some as judges, other with various phases of entertainment, but the happiest of all was Sheriff Harry Schraeder, the man to whom the community owed the celebration. Mr. Schraeder took the initiative in starting the movement for a celebration weeks ago, and as is usual in such cases, was compelled to bear the brunt of responsibility all day yesterday.

City Attorney R. D. McLeod, who had been associated with the sheriff in the collection of funds for the entertainment, acted as treasurer, and had the task of paying out prize money after the contests were over.

The street dance came within an ace of not materializing, not because of lack of good music or a satisfactory floor, but because the crowd was exceedingly slow to get out and step to the music. Altho it seemed almost as tho the matter was a case of absence of anyone with outstanding initiative to make a start, it may have been the recollection of a similar street dance in the past when there is said to have been no base of sand underneath the canvas. When the crowd finally got a start, the dancing progressed nicely and the floor apparently was satisfactory.

The fire truck race between two teams from the department, while one of the most interesting features of the contest list, did not bring any decision, due to the fact that the alarm wire had been cut, making it impossible for the judges to properly keep the time of the two teams. The alarm was to be turned in by the judges from Third Street. The first crew, in which Captain Calvert was the driver, George Smith nozzleman and John Madigan plugman, took the truck down the avenue first, and apparently used more speed than the other crew, swinging from side to side in hair-raising fashion on their way down the street. Chauffeur Calvert made a neat stop beyond the hydrant, but passed the hydrant at such speed that his plugman slipped, fell and dropped his hose-end. This delay was offset on the part of the other crew in their run by a delay in unscrewing the length of hose from the layers in the box of the truck.

Dark rumors passed about last night after the race that Chief Tom Smith’s crew had been “jobbed” by their opponents. The latter held that the other crew should have examined its hose joints before it started on the trip down the avenue. Chief Smith’s aids were Tim Cullen, nozzleman, and William Carson, plugman.

It was often heard on the streets last night that despite the rain the celebration had been a very pleasant one, and that it would stand remembered in the ranks of Leadville Fourth of Julys as a very satisfactory festival.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.