Elks Carnival 1911: Ladies High Jinx
After the Feb 22, 1911, closing night of the highly successful Elks Carnival, anonymous Hawaiian Star society columnist “Lady Gay” declared a social win in her regular column, Over the Teacups. All Elks were exhausted, as were Elk wives.
Elks Carnival was a pivot for retailers to sell clothing, film and cameras, food, souvenirs, and other merchandise. Recognizing an opportunity, Haleiwa Hotel used the Hawaiian Star to run planted product placement snips worthy of modern advertising tactics. The paragraphs were positioned and formatted to look like news, with headlines that gave no hint of their content: “Strenuous the Word,” “Getting Back to Earth.” The “stories” sent a clear message: hard working Elk wives needed to recharge their batteries after those draining fundraising efforts. “Many will need…a bracer and the place to get it is at Haleiwa where there is quiet pure air…the cuisine and rooms at the hotel are above average.” “It will be but fair for the husbands of those who did so much to make recent charitable events successful to send their tired wives to Haleiwa for a few days rest.” Elk ladies could revive and relax at the Haleiwa Hotel as a reward for their hard work. The men should pay – and stay home! A plan doomed to failure….
A weekend at the Haleiwa Hotel for each female was sure to be a drain on 616 wallets! What to do?? Husbands were able to stall until the March 24 final report of the Carnival Committee, but the very next meeting a Ladies High Jinks Committee was appointed. W. G. Ashley (1st Treasurer), led members Trustee J. M. Riggs, J. W. Caldwell, R. J. Buchly, and F. L. Winter. Committee members had a personal stake in making the event a just reward. Mrs. Riggs ran the Elks and Shriners Stein booth. Winter’s daughter Sibyl worked the Flower & Confetti booth. Buchly, with 2 daughters, had worked the popularity contest-San Francisco trip booth. J. W. Caldwell, had chaired the Electric Fountain and Mystical Mermaid, and F. L. Winter, chaired the Onion Grill.
Elks 616 members had reason to be grateful to their wives and daughters for Carnival success: 40% of the booths were organized and run by women. Booths with donated or home-made rewards, Lemonade and Candy for example, were very profitable. Society women of Honolulu, including some whose husbands were excluded from Elks membership, lent their names to the Carnival Ball as Patronesses. A suitable reward, within the pocket book of the lodge members, was required.
The answer was a night at the Empire Theater for Elks and guests only. While The Park had recently reopened with a startling “All Moving Pictures” format with Elk Sonny Cunha’s orchestra accompanying the on-screen action, the Empire continued a vaudeville combination of drama, dance, comedy, singing, and one film. The night was affordable once Honolulu Amusement Co manager and Elk J. T. Scully comp’d the house. Despite the no-charge status, Scully filled the program with top billing acts and a film.
Thrifty 616 members did not scrimp on the program. Tuxedo clad committeemen welcomed guests to a theater decorated in American flags and BPOE pennants. R. J. Buchly, program chair, began the evening with a rare treat: moving pictures of that year’s national Elks’ convention. Honolulu Amusement Co.’s top vaudeville acts followed. Headlining was Foley & Earle, a song and dance team. Their frantic clog dancing duets preceded Mr. Foley’s solo “Dope Fiend Dance” under green lighting displaying his “educated feet” that made the “boards fairly tremble.” Equally energetic was Miss Earle’s “Hurdle Dance” – “springing over hurdles on the tips of her toes.” The program had plenty of variety: Youngren Brothers, hand balancers; the Hidalgos, “real Spanish dancers”; Anker Sisters, singing dancers; Jourdaine & Gervaise, operatic singers. A “statuesque” Miss Hilda Carle sang “high class selections.” The program also included Henry Vierra performing a “Chinese monologue.” Vierra, perhaps a 1900s Frank DeLima hoping for discovery, frequently worked his comedy on Amateur Night at the Bijou Theater.
The performers, knowing who was in the house, chose purple and white costumes. The crowd rewarded them with violet lei and rousing applause.
The Empire, corner Hotel and Bethel Sts, was a short after-theater walk to the BPOE S. King St. club rooms for an economical buffet supper. When the hour reached 11pm, Elk Clarence Waterman sang “To Our Absent Brothers” followed by a healthy toast. Finally, the 1911 Carnival was pau.
Anita Manning, Lodge Historian
Advertiser 1911 Feb 19; Apr 18, 19, 20
Hawaiian Star 1911 Feb 14, 17; Apr 18, 19, 20, 23
Minutes, BPOE 616, 1911 Mar 31; Apr 7, 21, 28