100 Years Ago This Week: Broadway on a 24 Hour Pass

Background:   My grandfather, John Rodney Jamieson, who we later called ‘Poppa’, had been stationed in France during WWI with the 20th Engineers.  They have just sailed back to America aboard the USS Roanoke and are now stationed at Camp Upton, Long Island, New York awaiting discharge from the army.  Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.

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From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday April 20,  1919 – Spent Easter Sunday very quietly.  Reading, writing letters, visiting pie and ice cream parlors, etc.  Saw Jane Cowl in “The Crowded Hour” at Liberty Theater tonight. Have a good camp.  Better than any place I have been in yet but am anxious to get away. Big detail from companies today for Easter.  A fine way to treat A.E.F. troops of 17 months service.

Monday April 21– Going to New York this evening.  Marshall, Shorty and myself on 24 hour pass. Later:- Arrived at Penn Station about 7:30.  Went to Knickerbocker theatre seeing “Listen Lester”. Awfully good show. Afterward saw Broadway at midnight with great white way.  Stayed at York Hotel for the night.

Tuesday April 22– By means of Salvation Army sight seeing bus which we accidentally stumbled onto saw Wall Street, Stock exchange, Millionaire Row, Fifth Avenue and many interesting and important centers of New York.  Got back to camp about eight o’clock.

Wednesday April 23 – Very warm day.  Just “hung around” barracks today reading, writing and resting.  Went to vaudeville show at Liberty Theater. Wish some mail would come for me.  Bought a liberty bond from Joe.

Thursday April 24 – N.Y boys were transferred today to Camp Upton to be discharged soon.  Three letters received today. Two from Marion, one from home. Awfully glad to get all of them, long time since I have heard from them.  Went to “The Kiss Burglar” but were so far in theatre that we couldn’t hear so left.

Friday April 25 – Four detachments, ones from Camps Bliss, Meade Taylor and Pike are to leave tomorrow.  Gosney Stratton and Christensen go with them. Smull was mustered out this a.m.

Saturday April 26 – The four detachments left today.  Also ones for Camp Dix and Devans (?). Most of others including Grant received orders today to leave next Wednesday.  Went to show tonight but was pas-bon.


Camp Upton

The Liberty Theatre. Camp Upton. Long Island New York. Circa 1917

Poppa and other soldiers are temporarily stationed at Fort Upton in Long Island, New York.  They have little work to do as they wait to be discharged from the army.   Poppa took in some culture as he toured New York City and saw three Broadway plays.

“The Crowded Hour”, with Jane Cowl was on Broadway for 139 performances before closing in March of 1919.  Apparently the play was then performed for soldiers at the Liberty Theatre which was on the grounds of Camp Upton .  Jane Cowl (1883-1950) starred in over 30 plays between 1904 and 1947.  She also wrote some plays and appeared in 6 films.

Jane Cowl Circa 1915.

The next day Poppa and two of his friends got passes to leave the camp and went to New York City for 24 hours.  While there they enjoyed  the musical “Listen Lester” at the Knickerbocker Theater on Broadway.

This picture of Broadway from December of 1918 shows the Knickerbocker theater advertising “Listen Lester”: the musical that Poppa saw there will touring New York City

By Thursday Poppa had returned from their busy sight seeing tour of New York City and that night attended the musical “The Kiss Burglar” at the Liberty Theatre.  This play had recently completed a run of 100 performances on Broadway.  Poppa was disappointed because they sat so far back in the Liberty Theatre that could not hear well.

During the week Camp Upton was the site of much activity.  Soldiers from New York were arriving at Camp Upton to be discharged while detachments from other states were leaving for their home bases to be “mustered out”.

As the week ends soldiers from the midwest have just received orders to prepare for the next leg of their journey home.  They expect to leave for Camp Grant in Rockford, Illinois the following Wednesday.

Next Week: Tomorrow, on my 28th birthday, I will start life again as a civilian in God’s own country!

Sources:

“Camp Upton.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Apr. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_Upton. Accessed 19 Apr. 2019.

“Jane Cowl.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Feb. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Cowl. Accessed 19 Apr. 2019.

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