Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Labor Day is Spent Laboring
Tue Sept. 8, 1926: Yesterday was Labor Day and the whole family labored. We didn’t go to the Eagles’* big celebration. It had been a nice day and there must have been a big crowd who did attend, as cars went by our house in great numbers. Meanwhile, we all were stuck at home. Dad, Len, Ruby & Mother dug potatoes. Even though they worked hard all day they didn’t finish digging the early ones.
Today we were inside all day as it rained hard all forenoon*. I sewed some on Mother’s black silk that we started to make over last year.
*Turner Hall: The Fire
“1926 was a huge year in the history of Turner Hall. In the spring, the Hall was sold to the Eagles for $10,000. The very popular show “Abbie’s Irish Rose” was brought to the Hall in April 1926. In May, 1926 the Hall was officially dedicated as a combined opera house, dance hall and general hall. Luck was not with the Eagles, however, for 10 weeks later, on July 1, 1926, the Old Turner Opera House was gutted by fire. The loss was considered nearly total or over $12,000. At 10:50 AM, Mrs. F.H. Rickeman of Prospect Street turned in the alarm. According to the Gazette:
“Others also noted smoke issuing from the cupola of this massive building at about the same time, but thought that bats or bees were being smoked out of the apex of this building. The custodian, Wiliam Wilhelmi, was working in the building at the time the general alarm was sounded and did not know that the structure was on fire until he came out to see where the fire was.
The cause of the fire was never determined. At least one person reported seeing lighting strike the cupola of the Hall. It was also suggested that faulty wiring might be the culprit. There was also a faction that believed a pigeon brought a lit cigarette butt up into the cupola. Whatever the cause, the Hall was severely damaged and the $8000 of insurance money collected by the Eagles was not enough to rebuild.
The Eagles began fundraising efforts and made plans to build a modest hall. Their simple plans, however, caused an outcry from the public who believed that a grand, up-to-date building was called for. The support for a modern large Hall was so great that the Eagles relented and made new plans, but asked for financial support from the citizenry as well. In the September 16, 1926 Gazette a list of people donating money to the cause was printed.”* www.turnerhall.com
* forenoon is used to indicate the morning – hours before twelve noon.
* The rebuilt Turner Hall is pictured above. Today it remains a historic landmark in Galena, used for special events.