Archive for Tuesday, July 12, 2011

100 years ago: Streetcar employees get paid day off with picnic and free cigars

July 12, 2011


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for July 12, 1911:

"Today is a gala day for the street car employees. They cannot have their picnics and good times when other people are having theirs, for they must be busy collecting the nickels and hauling the people on occasions like a general holiday. An ordinary holiday means little to the street car men except long hours, crowded cars, and hard work. But this is not an ordinary holiday. It is a special one declared by the street car management for the benefit of its regular employees, given in appreciation for the manner in which they have handled the crowds this summer and especially on the Fourth of July. At three o'clock this afternoon the men and their wives and families boarded the cars and went to the park as passengers instead of as motormen and conductors. An excellent program was prepared and the men are having the time of their lives. The first thing will be a ball game between the A.M. men and the P.M. men. This promises to be a feature of the day and will probably furnish a topic for conversation between the men for some time to come.... Then there is to be a track meet with cash prizes.... By this time the street car company believes the men will be rather hungry, so the picnickers will spread their supper on the grass in the park and when they have eaten their fill of fried chicken, peanut sandwiches, and pickles, the street car company will produce a large freezer of ice cream to top things off with. Cigars will also be furnished by the company.... The men will not lose a cent of their regular pay by not being on duty, but will be given this time off on full pay."


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 11 months ago

July 12, 1911 was a Wednesday.

I guess no one got to ride the streetcar that day!

jhawkinsf 6 years, 11 months ago

I wonder what park they went to. Is it still a park, one we could use 100 years later? I'd love to know if my family has had picnics on the very spot they did.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 11 months ago

This is just a guess, but I bet I'm right: South Park My reasoning is that South Park would have been the only park in town that would have been big enough to accommodate a ball game. People didn't travel far back then, and it would have been close.

HISTORY Lawrence's first oldest park, South Park was part of the original 1854 town site. In the original town plat, South Park, located on Massachusetts Street, covered eight city blocks and was divided evenly into four separate parks - Lafayette Park, Hamilton Park, Washington Park and Franklin Park. The bandstand, or the South Park gazebo, was erected in May 1906.


jhawkinsf 6 years, 11 months ago

I also was guessing South Park due to it's central location. Thanks for the link.

Stephanie Hull 6 years, 11 months ago

Yesterday's Old Home Town said the picnic would be at Woodland Park. I think it was an amusement park in East Lawrence.

Sarah St. John 6 years, 11 months ago

That's it, sjgreen and Multi. It was opened last summer (that is, summer of 1910) and there was a whole lot of advance publicity in the World at the time. The newspaper, that is. (It was still the World then, having not joined up with the Journal until after the big downtown fire in February 1911.) The newspaper had a big contest for Lawrence residents to choose a name for the big new park (see and comments), and at first it was to be called Victor Park (see, but they almost immediately reconsidered and changed it to Woodland Park ( The roller coaster was installed in September of 1910, if I remember correctly, and playground equipment the following April.

It appears to have been the main place in Lawrence to spend a summer evening, with cool shade trees, swings, roller coaster, sometimes live music, dancing, roller-skating, and moving pictures. I imagine plenty of canoodling couples, sedate older people strolling along, children running around having a good time. It appears to have been a big enough park for large events, such as this party given by the streetcar company to its employees as well as one they gave in June for are children ( Another party given for children in 1910 was noteworthy for having been mentioned in Langston Hughes' "Not Without Laughter;" see . It was also the site of the "gruesome discovery" made by some children (

For more info on this park, see which is a small collection of scanned Woodland-related articles. (Not my work -- some nice person did it about two months before I started writing OHT.)

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