Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Cultural and Recreational Activities in Pioneer Arkansas"

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Pam Roper

History of Arkansas (Internet)

Article Review

“Cultural and Recreational Activities in Pioneer Arkansas”

Custom Essays on "Cultural and Recreational Activities in Pioneer Arkansas"

Walter Moffatt describes how, even though the early settlers were very much concentrating on the everyday life necessities, they also found time for serious and light entertainment. “Throughout the Pioneer Period there are references not only to balls, circuses, and horse races but also to concerts, rental libraries, debating societies, and painting.”

Little Rock had a society of debating as early as March of 18. This organization had regular meetings for the people that were members and also held discussions that anyone could attend. The organization put together a library for its members. Later on, the library was opened to the public in hopes of making it a permanent establishment.

However, by 185 there was so little interest in debates that the society became basically non existent. The pioneers also enjoyed music. At one time a man announced to the people of the Arkansas Post that there would be a concert at the Arkansas Hotel in the ballroom. Due to bad weather, the concert was cancelled, but did take place on a later date. The tickets only cost fifty cents! At one time there was a man, by the name of Featherstonhaugh, that was traveling in Arkansas’s Red River valley and heard the sounds of a piano playing. He was very pleased to hear this sound.

By June of 186 the “Professor of Music”, Mr. Wagner, proclaimed that piano lessons would be taught by him in Little Rock. He would charge ten dollars for twelve lessons or twenty-five dollars per quarter (thirty-six lessons).

There was not any orientation of painting until 184. Harry Seckendorff opened a little shop in Little Rock where he had paintings as well as “music boxes, double-barreled shot guns, pistols, bed ticking, winter and summer clothing, stockings, and ladies shoes--all of which could be bought ’cheap for cash.’ “

Literature was exposed in several ways. One way was through libraries. Another form of literature was the newspaper. The first newspaper was that of William Woodruff and was called the “Arkansas Gazette”. Poetry was another form of literature that the pioneers enjoyed. Almost every newspaper contained at least one poem in it. There was also attention given to prose and novels.

The people of Arkansas also found time to connect with entertainment that was lighter and less serious. One form of lighter entertainment was dancing which was always popular. Dancing occurred at celebrations honoring Washington’s birthday and on the Fourth of July festivities. In 18, the first dancing school was opened by Mr. M. W. Smith in Little Rock. He made this statement concerning dancing, “This art has been justly considered an essential to the complete education of a young person, enabling him or her to appear with ease and grace in any society whatever.”

Circuses appeared in 188 and was popular with people of all ages. They consisted of single-horse riders, tumblers, plate dancers, balancers, splendid costumes, beautiful horses, and great bands.

Horse racing was one of the most loved forms of entertainment, as it still is today. The main reason for this sport was intended to develop better breeds of horses, but actually attracted people as a way of gratifying their hunger for action and excitement.

Although all of these forms of entertainment proved to be satisfying, the thing that was the most popular at every celebration was the reading of the Declaration of Independence. There was usually a procession before the reading and a oration or sermon after it.

The last form of entertainment the article mentioned was the “toast”. Toasts occurred at celebrations such as the Fourth of July. But most were “more original either in theme or in the treatment of the theme. The most popular reason for a toast and the one which brought about the most creative words was woman!

All in all, the pioneers of early Arkansas found many forms by which to entertain themselves, some of which were serious while others were for the pure purpose of having fun.

The author, Walter Moffatt, did not seem to have any bias. He just seemed to have an interest in how the early settlers entertained themselves and what activities they participated in. He found his information in newspapers such as the “Arkansas Gazette”, the “Batesville News”, “Times”, the “National Banner”, and a few others. Mr. Moffatt organized his material in a very efficient and reader friendly manner. I found the article, both easy and enjoyable to read.

Like I stated before, I enjoyed reading this article. I found the information to be interesting. I thought it was neat to learn what the early settlers did for entertainment, back when there was no television to watch, no video games to play, and no computers with which to pass hours by when it seems like only a few minutes. I would recommend this article for anyone that has an interest in what people did before our time. I thought of the many times that my father would say to me, “Back when I was a little boy, we did not have this or we did not get to do that.” The thing that kept going through my mind was to tell him that compared to what they had to do, he probably seemed, to them, to “have it made!”

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