Dedicated to the legacy of Edward Stratemeyer, author & founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate

Artifact — Dance Card

When Edward Stratemeyer was a young adult, he participated on at least one committee to organize a dance in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Edward Stratemeyer was on a committee to organize a dance in Elizabeth, N.J. in January 1886.

On the card above, the location of the Red Ribbon Club Parlors was the corner of Broad and East Grand Streets.  In the 1888 city directory for Elizabeth, the address was given as 206 Broad Street, a few doors down from the cigar store that Edward’s father conducted and the address where he was born and lived for the early part of his life — 212 Broad Street.  By 1876, the Stratemeyer family moved their residence further from the town center at 24 Palmer Street.

Part of an 1889 Sanborn fire insurance map showing the locations of the H.J. Stratemeyer Tobacco store (212 Broad) and the Red Ribbon Club Parlors (206 Broad).

The Red Ribbon Club was founded by several of the churches of Elizabeth, N.J. with interests in “law, order and temperance.”  Here is an article from the May 26, 1890 issue of the Elizabeth Daily Journal mentioning one of their meetings.

Both the location and the temperance tenet would hold interest to the Stratemeyer family as previously noted.

The artifact considered here is a dance card from a year later.

The front of the 1887 dance card notes “Music By Stratemeyer.”  While several members of the Stratemeyer family were part of a multi-generation musical tradition, the two most likely people were Maurice H. Stratemeyer (1854-1920) or Louis C. Stratemeyer (1856-1905).

Maurice was the half brother of Edward who owned the tobacco and music store at 31 Broad Street and was the head of Stratemeyer’s Orchestra.

Edward’s brother, Louis, took over running the cigar store owned by Henry Julius Stratemeyer Sr. when he died at 212 Broad Street.  He was also a composer of poems and dozens of musical scores.

An account of a calico necktie dance from the Locomotive Engineers’ Journal, April 1898.

The front cover also identifies that this “reception” held at the Linden Club, in Linden, N.J. was to be a “Calico Necktie” affair.  Since this term is provided without explanation, it is likely that it was well understood then even if it is not so well known now.

It was usually held as a fund-raising event.  Ladies would make a dress, apron, or bonnet from a distinct pattern of calico fabric.  A necktie, usually a bowtie, would be made from the same fabric.  The latter was wrapped and placed with others.  The gentlemen in attendance would pay the admission fee and blindly pick one of the packages containing the necktie.  For the purpose of the event, they would find the lady wearing the matching pattern and they would dine and dance at least the first dance together.

Not only was Edward Stratemeyer involved in dances the year before, he was also familiar with the calico necktie events since he included a description of it in one of his “Edna Winfield” potboiler romances serialized in The Chicago Ledger and published in book form by Mershon.

Temptations of a Great City (Mershon, 1899) by “Edna Winfield” that mentions a “calico party.”

 

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Keeline

James D. Keeline has been researching Edward Stratemeyer and the Stratemeyer Syndicate since 1988. He has written many dozens of articles and conference presentations on these topics and has several books in progress, including a Series Book Encyclopedia, a full biography of Edward Stratemeyer, and Stratemeyer Syndicate Ghostwriters. He has also edited and published several Stratemeyer texts in illustrated and annotated editions under the 24 Palmer Street Press imprint at Lulu.com.

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