“She Wore Tights,” Says Clergyman, and Attacks Minstrel Performance from Pulpit – Receipts Doubled at Next Performance.
Dancer, a Syracuse Woman, Says She Didn’t Wear ‘Em – Leading Citizens Rush to Her Defense – Only Kicked as High as Elbow Is Testimony
There’s just as big a sensation in the unusually quiet little village of Parish as there would have been in the Pilgrim days if a Theda Bara had stalked into Plymouth and pulled off a Cleopatra stunt with Capts. John Smith and Myles Standish in the front row of the spectators’ seats. Mrs. Grundy is on the job in Parish all because of a minstrel show for the benefit of the Red Cross and critics declare one of the pretty feminine participants appeared in a costume that was “perfectly shocking, in fact scandalous.”
On the other hand, social and financial leaders of the town are flocking to the defense of Mrs. Jack Gillickson of No 529 Seymour street, Syracuse, the brunette beauty who is under fire.
Mrs. Gillickson a Syracusan.
Mrs. Gillickson, who is employed on the ribbon counter of the Metropolitan 25 and 50 cent store in South Salina street, has pretty thoroughly demonstrated she is able to take care of laying her own verbal barrage. Yesterday she scored heavily against what her champions term “the Parish poison gas attack,” by forty-two-centremeter statement gunfire in the form of a rebuke to the malcontents.
As the matter now stands, flanking movement on the part of critics have at least been met by strong offensives launched by Mrs. Gillicksons’s husband and dancing partner, Jack Gillickson – employed in the store room of the Hotel Onondaga in this city – and a host of staunch admirers, including many church people residing in Parish.
Storm Broke Sunday.
The storm broke last Sunday at 11:45 by the town ticker, when the Rev. William Hall, pastor of the Methodist church, diverged from the text and course of his prepared sermon of the day, to declare that the Ragtime minstrels, given under the auspices of the Nu club (young ladies) and held the preceding evening in Masonic hall for the benefit of the Red Cross, was “a disgrace and a scandal to the fair name of Parish.” When he got down to brass tacks and the compiling of a who’s who as offender, Mr. Hall let it be known that he was particularly displeased with the dancing act put on by Mr. and Mrs. Jack Gillickson. He asserted that both he and Mrs. Hall had attended the performance, and according to headquarters’ report as filed with Mrs. Gillickson, said the latter work tights, thereby bringing out expression of opinion on his part that fleshlings should be extremely taboo in Parish.
Sensation of Week.
Pastor Hall’s reference to the performance of the minstrels was the sensation of the week in Parish and promises to be talked about even up to the Fourth of July the way things now look. Friday night the show was repeated, this time for the war fund of the Y.M.C.A., and whereas it had only cleared about $55 on the first occasion, it then netted more that $100 for a most worthy cause. It is being whispered, however, that many strange faces were seen in Friday night’s audience and the impression prevails that admirers of tights and stage lingerie from adjacent towns, attracted by Pastor Hall’s remarks, bore down upon Parish with the view of taking in all the sights that were to be seen, instead of hitting the high spots in Syracuse for their entertainment.
Advertised the Show.
All in all, it is regarded that the Methodist minister certainly advertised the show and added materially to Y.M.C.A. coffers. It also became known yesterday that Pastor Hall and Mrs. Gillickson’s stepbrother, according to letters just received in this city, indulged in a very heated session following the close of the former’s sermon last Sunday. On that occasion, it is claimed, the stepbrother gave the minister “a piece of his mind,” or “balling out,” as some have alluded to it, he will not soon forget. Others have since pointed out that whereas Mr. Hall scored Mrs. Gillickson, in their opinion he would have been more justified if he had launched his broadside against the fair members of the Nu club who, they assert, appeared in bloomers minus skirts, while on the other hand, Mrs. Gillickson was well supplied with draperies. It was also brought out that many of the dainty bloomer girls are 21 years old or thereabouts, and on the whole, well developed for their years.
Did She Wear ’em or Not?
Figuratively speaking of figures, however, Parish is agog with debate waxing heated as to whether Mrs. G. did wear ’em or did not. Pastor Hall declared that she did – and that they were pink and scandalous. Mrs. Gillickson got after the minister and other critics when she learned what has transpired by forwarding the following statement to Parish :
“Syracuse, N.Y., April 10, 1918.
To Whom it May Concern:
I, the undersigned, wish to make a public and complete denial of the Rev. Mr. Hall’s statements in regard to my costume worn the evening of the Red Cross entertainment. I did not wear tights , and furthermore can say, I hope the entire public will never see anything more shocking. Any one who felt ill at ease had a perfect right to leave the hall – the doors were plenty large and I am sure they would have been allowed to go without any trouble.
I wish the public do know I came here to do what I could to help the boys over there, and everyone who had anything to do with the entertainment felt the same way. And should one of your sons or brothers fall on the field and a bandage of bed be purchased with the money received in Paris at that minstrel be used for their comfort – how many will condemn? My best advice to those who feel it their duty to criticize is to put their shoulder to the wheel and help a good cause along, and let the other fellow do the knocking.
MRS JACK GILLICKSON.”
Discussion More General.
Yesterday the matter had reached the stage where discussion became even more general. Rev. Mr. Hall was reported to be out of town, with the chances looming of his not returning until Monday, but Mrs. Hall gave her version of what transpired at the Saturday night show. She said:
“I don’t care what that woman says. I attended the show with my husband and thoroughly agree with him that her costume was truly shocking. It was extremely immodest. If she did not wear tights, as she says, she certainly wore pink stockings and her dress only reached to her knees. She did not take part in last nights’ show and I do not wonder that she did not appear here. It is very probably she discovered Parish does not like this sort of thing.”
Others Do not Agree.
The Halls’ views are by no means shared by the residents of the town in general. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Mosher, for instance, dissent and are not backward in letting people know they do not share in such criticism of Mrs. Gillickson. Moreover, Mr. Mosher is one of the big men of Parish and his wife is very prominent socially. Both yesterday rose to the dense of Mrs. Gillickson. Mr. Mosher said:
“All this is due to two or three prudes we have here. Mrs. Gillickson’s costume was modest and her dancing was modest. I am astounded that criticism has since arose as to her act. She is one of our Parish girls despite the fact that she is now residing in Syracuse. She was brought up here and for some years she and her husband have taken part in various amateur shows here. Time and time again they have given their services and aided in making church events successful. I cannot speak too highly of them.
Only Pink Stockings.
“Mrs. Gillickson wore pink stockings and bloomers and a heavy skirt that had innumerable ruffles on it. It was the kind of skirt you see on the stage. I’ve described it from a man’s standpoint. The women folks could probably tell you more about it. Why, a fellow up here complained that she kicked as high as her elbow, when everyone knows that the regular stage dancer kicks higher than her head.
“The Nu Club that gave the show, is a sewing club. Its members are aiding the Red Cross and it is made up of Parish young women. All the members of of the faculty of the high school took part in the show. There are only about three people in town who have had anything adverse to say in the way of criticism and its unfortunate that this has occurred.”
Mrs. Florence Mosher, wife of Robert Mosher and acknowledged leader of the Parish society, wrote Mrs. Gillickson a letter of sympathy yesterday and stands by her in the present line-up of conflicting opinions. She also stated that every effort had been made to have the Gillicksons take part in the show of Friday night but they refused to appear. Mrs. Gillickson was seen last yesterday at her place of employment by a Sunday Herald reporter She said:
“It is almost unbelievable there should be any criticism by minister or anyone else of my costume or act. I did not don tights. Mrs. Charles Allen, wife of a very prominent coal dealer in Parish, assisted me in dressing and she will confirm the statement that I did not wear them. It is true that I wore pink stockings. However, I had on bloomers and besides these wore three petticoats, all ruffles, and a skirt as well. The Nu club girls wore only bloomers and laid aside skirts during their part of the performance. Neither did I do any high kicking as has been asserted. My husband was my partner and we just did some fancy dancing. I went out to Parish to help the boys who are fighting for liberty and justice. We paid our own fares and gave our services without it costing the club one cent. During the past week we were daily deluged with letters requesting that we be certain to appear a the Friday night show, but in view of the fact Pastor Hall made the statements berating us, felt it best not do so. I shall certainly never again face a Parish audience after all this unjustified criticism.”
Parish Views on Costume Worn by Mrs. Gillickson
By the Minister’s Wife.
How Mrs. William Hall, wife of the Rev. William Hall, pastor of the Methodist church of Parish, regards Mrs. Gillickson’s minstrel show costume:
“I don’t care what that woman may say in explanation of things. My husband and myself certainly regarded her costume as shocking. It was extremely immodest. If she did not wear tights, as she says, she certainly wore pink stockings and her skirts were up to her knees.”
By a Leading Citizen
What Herbert Mosher, leading citizen of Parish, says of Mrs. Gillicksons’s furbelows and dance:
“Only one or two prudes have found fault. Mrs. Gillickson wore bloomers and a heavy skirt, I should say from a mans’s standpoint. There were lots of ruffles on it. She had on pink stockings. One fellow out here complained that she kicked as high as her elbow, whereas stage dancing isn’t considered the real thing unless they kick over their heads.”
By Mrs. Gillickson
What she did wear, according to Mrs. Gillickson’s own version:
“I had on bloomers and wore pink stockings. I dd not wear tights as some people have claimed. I also wore a skirt of the stage type and three petticoats with deep ruffles. I just went through a simple dance with my husband as my partner and did not high kicking.”
By Her Husband
This from Jack Gillickson:
“My wife and I will never sing in Parish again or dancer there either. We gave our services entirely free to aid a good cause and it is unfortunate that all this tempest in a teapot has been raised.”
Source : Syracuse Herald, April 14, 1918