Celebrations in 1919, Part 2
It was finally decided to combine the celebration
honoring the service men of Kearney and Buffalo County with the 1st
anniversary of Armistice Day
On Oct 23rd a planning committee was formed
leaving them 3 weeks to plan this celebration
Informal interviews with vets about what
entertainment they would like, most said a big feed
Businesses agreed to
uniformly decorate with bunting and flags
Schools were to be dismissed on Armistice Day [not
a national holiday yet]
Gibbon, Shelton & Elmcreek businesses to close and
groups of people to go Kearney for the celebration
Posters advertising the
celebration were posted in every town, village in the county and at highway
Good weather was forecast
Hotels and restaurants would have to make
arrangements for feeding the non-military visitors
Everything would be free
for the servicemen [No mention of admission costs to civilians]
They were encouraged to wear their uniforms to make a more inspiring
Also save time since they will not have to register to get an identification
American Legion registered them in the basement of the Farmers Bank Building
spreading that the Armistice Day celebration was for American Legion members
It was for all honorably discharged servicemen – Army, Navy, Marines – to be
guests at the celebration.
1:00 pm – Crescent theater continuous
performance, Empress Theater continuous performances with music by the Pipe
Organ; dance at Hub Hall with music by Parker’s Jazz Orchestra
2:00 – Cottrell brothers 5
rounds of boxing outdoors
Cottrell brothers, 10 & 11, from Fremont had a wide reputation in scientific
boxing, wrestling and “’rough and
2:30 – at Opera House short patriotic program of songs sung “over there”, a
welcome speech by a well known speaker, and music by Kearney’s New City Band
3:00 – Outdoor
athletics by soldiers only with gold cash prizes – Music by Gibbon band
3:30 – Football
game at State Normal athletic park Ex-Soldiers of Kearney vs State Normal
(Follow Kearney’s new city band) [were they going to march there from the
5:00 – “Chow” for the ex-servicemen. Music by Prof. LeRoy’s Kearney
Food to be served army style in a new garage building on 1st Ave large
enough to seat 400
Chow line but banquet hall atmosphere; decorations included plants from
7:00 – Crescent Theater – Music by Prof. Patterson’s Normal School Orchestra
Empress Theater – Music by the pipe organ
8:00 – Opera House – One act farce comedy by
Kearney Dramatic Club
Karcha Roo sketch, [another comedy]
Elks quartet. Music by Prof. Patterson’s orchestra [after leaving the
9:00 – Opera House – Big athletic carnival
John Pesek – Pesek had a slight operation on his ears following blood
poisoning [an infection] and had to cancel
5 matches but was OK and agreed to “show his mettle” in an exhibition
Cottrell Bros boxing
180-pound wrestlers would go 2 falls out of 3 for middleweight championship
Two county men would box 5 rounds for a purse.
Cottrell Bros to return to wrestle
Also Dances (for those not interested in the athletic events)
Dance at Hub Hall, music by Goldie’s Jazzers
Dance at City Hall, music by LeRoy’s orchestra [after leaving the chow hall]
Dance at Elk’s Hall, music by Patterson’s orchestra [after leaving the Opera
It would be a full program of activities all day long
About Nov. 9, two days before the celebration,
it started to rain and snow
Nov 10 – a some of notices were mailed announcing
postponement of Armistice Day celebration due to weather, but committee
later decided to hold celebration regardless of weather .
Street decorations not entirely completed because of the high winds, rain
It was announced that in case of additional rain or snow outdoor events
would be moved inside with location
information to be circulated among the crowd
Nov. 11, 1919 –
1st anniversary of Armistice Day –
What really happened that day?
Celebration began with ringing of all bells and
blowing all whistles in the city along with the discharge of a cannon.
in the day were that there would be a large crowd despite two days of rain
the temperature dropped 20° in 3 hours and a blizzard came in shortly after
said about the football game, probably cancelled
That evening the
middleweight wrestling match went two falls out of three.
The first one lasted 19 minutes, second 12 minutes and third 6 minutes
[probably quite tired by then]
The day after –
About 800 men from Buffalo
County had served in the military
than 600 were living in the county at the time of this celebration.
More than 500 service
men came to the celebration.
400 service men not in uniform were registered at the American Legion’s
The American Legion picked up 125 new members.
The celebration was a
success despite the weather.
crowd battled bad roads to come to Kearney but as the temperature dropped
and snow flurries began,
headed for home.
However, the ex-service men stayed to attend the
“Chow,” the dances and the athletic events.
Many ex-service men who
had traveled had to stay in Kearney over night because of the storm.
All hotels and
rooming houses were full.
One man was found sleeping on a radiator in the
Everyone began to apologize saying they could have found him a decent place
to sleep but he said he had put in
over a year in France and many times he ”would have given a leg for a bunk
like this” where he was warm and
was heard to say this weather beat last year on Armistice Day when there was
fog, rain, and strong winds as they wondered who would be the last man down
in their sector before the order came to cease fire.