Second Half of 1931: Dances, Radio and Talking Movies

By Patricia and Edward Shillingburg  2006

Page Four of the Community Cookbook: Breakfast was a family affair, and breads, muffins, biscuits and coffee cakes were essential items.  There was no store bought stuff, and a regular chore in every household was to bake the essentials. The Community Club’s 1923 cookbook is available as a PDF file at

Unless otherwise noted, the source for this material is the Suffolk Times.
    The Community Club held a birthday party for Mrs. Moses Griffing following the Community Club meeting, which describes how the building was used. “While the business meeting was held upstairs in the club room, a table was quietly arranged with places for eight in the auditorium down stairs. Orange candles stood each side of a large birthday cake, while a birthday greeting card lay on Mrs. Griffing's plate. When all was ready the rest of the club with Mrs. Griffing, were invited down to the auditorium. The surprise was complete. A supper of ice cream, cake, Community punch and penuche, was served.”
    William D. McDermott leased the Community Hall for a series of dances through the summer with the Red and White Ramblers furnishing the music. July dances were held July 15, 18, 22, 25 and 29. Other dances scheduled were the colored people’s ball on July 23, and the New Prospect Bell Boys dance was scheduled for July 23.
    The first of McDermott’s dances took place on Memorial Day evening. “The hall was most attractively decorated with red, white and blue garlands, flags draped on the walls and the spaced between the windows decorated with large red, blue and gold fan-shaped ornaments. The French lattice windows were decorated with green vines and red paper poppies, making a bright, colorful room. A goodly crowd enjoyed the dancing.”
    A “competitive” Silver Tea for the benefit of the Community Club was held on June 13. “The Silver Tea at Bowditch Inn, last Saturday afternoon was very successful. The three tables were decorated in color schemes to match the gowns of the hostesses, green for Miss Oberholtzer; silver for Miss Northrup, and pink for Mrs. Donald Clark. Miss Oberholtzer's table was voted the prettiest, though competition was close and she received the prize, a dainty compact. Home-made cakes and black walnut brown bread were on sale, also paper poppies and daffodils, donated by Mrs. Agnes Clark. This tea was given by Mrs. Bowditch and Miss Belle Bowditch to earn money toward a fund for leaders on the roofs of the Community House.”
    The Community Club held bake sales near the A&P on Bridge Street on June 20 and June 27. They held their annual tag sale on July 4.
    The Shelter Island Band was practicing at the Community House.
    “Through the kindness of Mr. Wesley Congdon, the grounds in front of the Community House were graded last week.”
    “A genuine broadcasting studio on Shelter Island! Such is the promise given to the Community Club by George Grim, Jr., New York radio artist. The stage of the Community Hall is to be completely rebuilt in order to allow adequate facilities for the installation of the microphones and other broadcasting machinery. The radio plant is to be operated for the first time on the evening of Aug. 6th, when the boys of Camp Quinipet will present the ‘Quinipet Radio Revue.’ . . . [In addition] the ‘Quinipet Revue’ will present a pre-view of the newest scientific sensation, Television. For this purpose, a troupe of dancing girls is being trained who will shake a mean ankle at the audience in the Community Hall.”
    “The pajama dance given at the Community House last Saturday evening, under the managership of W. F. McDermott, was attended by eighty people. The first prize was awarded to Miss Jane Nicholas.”
    The Community Club had a Benefit Day at the Hilo Miniature Golf Course, Friday, July 31. It brought a crowd and Isabel Johnson [later to be Mrs. Hap Bowditch] had the lowest score and won a vanity case and William Dickerson won a jack knife.
    Five dances were scheduled for August at the Community House.
    “At a meeting of the Community Club on Tuesday evening, Mr. Walker, a representative of Portable Talking Pictures, Inc., of New York, gave a demonstration of his machine to test the acoustics of the auditorium. The result was highly satisfactory. There will be ‘Talkie’ Movies at the Community Hall, Thursday evening, Aug. 20, at 8:00 pm. Adults, 40¢; children under 12, 20¢. The company has promised a fine picture for that evening.”
    There was a Bridge Party held in late August at the New Prospect Hotel to benefit the Community Hall. “Although the weather was not so agreeable the atmosphere of the ballroom where the party was held, was very cheerful and congenial and everyone spent an enjoyable afternoon. The large number of beautifully decorated cakes was a great attraction and delicious home-made candies and punch were on sale during the games. The handsome patchwork quilts, woven rag rugs and boudoir dolls found a ready sale through the excellent salesmanship of Mrs. John E. O'Mara. The committees for this benefit bridge were as follows: General Chairman, Mrs. Thomas T. Young; Hostesses, Mrs. John E. O'Mara and Mrs. Cornelius D. Wood; Cake committee, Miss Margaret Harrison and Mrs. Charles S. Bums; Candy committee, Miss Anita House, Misses Mary Louise Southwick, Betty Jones, and Dorothy Wrenn, Mrs. Carrie Burke, Miss Edith Ferguson, Lois and Esther Buckley; Punch committee, Mrs. Moses B. Griffing, Misses Beatrice Hunkles, Shirley Schweinsburg, Isabel Johnston and Adelaide Smith; Ticket committee, Mrs. Thomas T. Young, Mrs. Moses B. Griffing, Mrs. Carrie Burke and Mrs. Burton Reed; Fancy Articles, Mrs. Burton Reed, Miss Lillian Loper, and Mrs. Mc. C. Hammond; Prizes, Mrs. Young; Tables and Chairs, Dudley Griffing. The Community Club takes this opportunity to thank everyone who helped in any way to make the party a success, both socially and financially. Special thanks are due to the Management of the New Prospect Hotel for their kindly assistance in many ways.”
    A talking picture, The Millionaire, with George Arliss, was shown at the Community Hall, on Thursday evening, August 20. This was the first time that talking pictures had been shown on the Island. Over 250 people attended. The featured picture the following week was Skippy with the “talkatoon” Teacher’s Pest, and news and features.
    One hundred people participated in the Pajama Dance at the Community Hall.
    On August 22, there was a card party at the Community Hall to benefit Our Lady of the Isle, which was planning to built a rectory on the property adjoining the church to commemorate the building of the church 25 years earlier, in 1907.
    On Monday evening August 31, the Chocolate Revue was given by negro players.
    The first weekend in September was action packed. On Thursday evening, the Community Hall was well filled when the movie Changes with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was shown. Friday afternoon and evening was the annual Community Club Fair and Bazaar to benefit the Community House, and on Saturday night, the Mardi Gras dance. “Many of the dancers wore gay colored paper hats and confetti was thrown in all directions. Bright colored clusters of balloons decorated the hall. The 3 lb. box of candy donated by C. W. Smith for the Community Club Fair, was given away at this time. Lincoln Mack was the lucky recipient. This was the last of the summer dances given under the management of William McDermott.”
    The Community Club held dances every Saturday night in September at the Community House. Music was provided by the Red and White Ramblers.