Silver Bay in 1919 — ‘A singing community’
A simple “good morning” was not sufficient enough of a breakfast greeting during the Y.M.C.A. Eastern Association training conference at Silver Bay Association in 1919.
“Breakfast passes to the swinging rhythm of ‘Are you sleeping, Are you sleeping, Brother John? … Morning bells are ringing … Ding, dong ding!’” The Lake George Mirror reported on Aug. 19. “And the glasses jingle as they imitate the musical ring of the bells.”
Singing instruction was incorporated into all of that year’s activities of the annual training conference for Y.M.C.A. workers at Silver Bay Association in Hague.
“Whole -hearted singing breaks down every barrier of reserve and insures a good spirit of fellowship as nothing else under the sun,” said Marshall Bartholomew, music director for the Y.M.C.A. National War Work Council.
Bartholomew, Austin Hughes, formerly with the Metropolitan Opera Company, and a female pianist with the last name Boyle, led the classes.
Hughes, in addition to appearing with the Metropolitan Opera Company, was featured tenor soloist in 1913 with The Bass-Clef Club summer concert series at Slater Hall in Norwich, Conn.
At one of the concerts that season, Hughes was on the same program with Alma Gluck, a long-time Lake George summer resident.
In 1918 and 1919, during World War I, Hughes was song leader at the Naval Training Barracks at Cape May, N.J. and later at Camp Dix Army base, where he specialized in “gloom chaser” songs to lighten the spirts of draftees in their 30s that were not accustomed to rigorous physical exercise.
At Silver Bay in 1919, the singing spirit spread to the cottagers and families that vacationed at and around Silver Bay.
The conference music staff conducted singing classes for people of all ages, from pre-schoolers to adults, and also a class for song leaders.
“Silver Bay has become a singing community. … Mr. Bartholomew uses his hands as if on the keys of some mighty instrument, hushing down the tenors, bringing out the altos and basses, bringing them all together on a simple melody or widening theme out into a single harmonious chord.”
Sources: The Lake George Mirror, Aug. 9, 1919; Newark Post, Newark, Del., Oct. 30, 1919; Norwich Bulletin, Norwich, Conn., May 17,23, 1913.
Click here to read my most recent previous Silver Bay history post.