A Winter Party in South Norwood in 1889

The South Norwood Musical and Literary Society was mainly a social organization that included "semi-occasional instrumental contributions" to its "programmes," according to the 1894 book "Norwood, Her Homes and Her People" by Mulford & Betty. Out of this organization came the Norwood Orchestra in October, 1889. On January 12, 1889, the group held their meeting at R. M. Wickersham's home, at the north corner of Ashland and Madison Avenues. The following article from the January 13, 1889, issue of The Commercial Gazette describes that party.

    "–The South Norwood Musical and Literary Society met last evening at the residence of Mr. R. M. Wickersham. The house was brilliantly illuminated, and at an early hour the parlors were crowded. The committee for the evening's entertainment was Mrs. C. E. Page, Mrs. George T. Hipple and Morris Wickersham, and they certainly are to be congratulated for the most excellent programme which was rendered. The recitation of the "Haunted Smithy," by Miss Jennie Lamb, was very well done indeed. The performance of Mrs. Charles Daunders on the zither, was excellent, and called for several encores. The Choral Society, directed by Mr. Richard Evans, sang splendidly, and great credit is due Mr. Evans for his efficient drilling of this Society. The principal event of the evening's entertainment was Budget No. 2, by Prof. Sualc Atnas. His appearance was announced by a loud rapping at the door, and when admitted an unknown individual strangely costumed stood before the audience, with a large basket on his arm. This basket was filled with presents, which he immediately commenced to distribute, by calling on individuals present to step forward. Mrs. Frank Rust was the first name called for, and received a beautiful steel engraving. We did not examine it closely; in fact, it would have taken a microscope to have done so. Mr. Robert Leslie was the next to step forward and received a bright horn, which, without any difficulty on his part, he commenced to blow. Mr. H. P. Smith was now trotted out from his hiding place, with fear depicted on his countenance. He was presented with three large perfumed onions, and highly complimented on his success in agricultural pursuits. Mr. R. N. Thompson, of Saints' Rest, was presented with a bunch of pretzels tied up with blue ribbon. These he suspended to the lapel of his coat, amid roars of laughter. Mr. D. Norton was favored with a jumping-jack, which, strange ot say, he required instructions how to work. Numerous other presents were distributed, and the house was kept in a roar of laughter for a full half hour, when the Professor departed, which concluded the evenings entertainment."

Some Notes

The Choral Society was another Norwood social organization. "Norwood, Her Homes and Her People" stated that in 1894, Mr. G. P. Evans (probably a relative to Richard Evans) was the director, Dr. D. I. Scott, the president and George H. Singer, the secretary and treasurer. Here is a brief description of some of the people mentioned in this article.
  • R. M. Wickersham - He was superintendent of the wholesale department of the John Shillito Company. Mr. Wickersham resided at the north corner of Ashland and Madison Avenues, the location of this party, in a house built by Bofinger & Hopkins. At the time of this story he was 42 years old.
  • Prof. Sualc Atnas - We don't know who was playing this part, but if you reverse the letters in his name, you can determine the character's name—Santa Claus! So, it was a late Christmas party.
  • Mrs. C. E. Page - She was the wife of C. E. Page, manager of the Western Union Telegraph Company's Norwood office, and president of the Norwood Improved Building and Loan Company. One document records the Page's as living on the north side of Cameron Avenue, at the 1st house east of Montgomery Road.
  • Mrs. George T. Hipple - Emma Hipple was the wife of George T. Hipple, a traveling shoe salesman. They resided at the east corner of Ashland and Madison Avenues (directly across the street from the Wickersham's). This home was also built by Bofinger & Hopkins. Mrs. Hipple was 32 and Mr. Hipple was 38.
  • Morris Wickersham may have been Robert's son. Twenty-year-old Morris was recorded in later records as a clerk and an assistant superintendent of dry goods.
  • Miss Jennie Lamb was likely the 14-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Lamb, who lived on the north side of Madison Avenue at the 2nd house east of Ashland Avenue.
  • Mrs. Charles Daunders was possibly the wife of Charles J. Daunders, the agent who later sold an insurance policy to the West Norwood Volunteer Fire Brigade. This insurance allowed them to rebuild their firehouse after it was destroyed by a fire.
  • Richard Evans was probably the R. G. Evans of Evans & Evans, Cincinnati Cordage and Paper Company. He lived on the north side of Crown Avenue at the 2nd house west of Section Avenue, according to the 1896 Norwood Directory. Where he lived in 1889 has not been determined. Evans replaced Phillip Moessinger on town council when the latter resigned in 1890.
  • Robert Leslie was said to be the pioneer of Floral Avenue, indicating that he may have been the first resident there. His home was on the west corner of Floral and Jefferson Avenues (today, it is the second house from that corner). This 56-year-old Irishman was so enthusiastic for the development of Floral Avenue, he was known as "Uncle Bob." This explains the joke of him blowing his own horn.
  • H. P. Smith owned H. P. Smith & Sons, a dry goods, notions and school supply store, located at the southwestern corner of Montgomery and Maple, across from the old Central School Building.
  • R. N. Thompson was one of the second group of village councilmen, being elected in April, 1889, a few months after this party.
  • D. Norton — the 1894 Directory records Norton as living on the east side of Forest Avenue, at the 1st house north of Jefferson Avenue, just three blocks from the Wickersham's.