Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happy Old Folks Day!

C R Savage MonumentNot far from the intersection of the Great Salt Lake Principal Meridian and Baseline (Utah’s point of origin) stands a monument with a bust and a couple of plaques.

The plaque on the front reads,

In affectionate remembrance
of
Charles R. Savage
and
in reverential regard for the
old folks whose happiness
he so greatly promoted
through the establishment of
Old Folks Day in Utah

Plaque on reverse side of C R Savage MonumentThe reverse of the monument contains another plaque which gives more details about “Old Folks Day.”

Old Folks Day was inaugurated in Salt Lake City in 1875 by Charles R. Savage, assisted by Edward Hunter, Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and George Goddard, since which time all persons seventy or more years of age have been honored at an annual celebration in nearly every community in Utah. Refreshments and entertainment are free.

You can read historic accounts of Old Folks Day celebrations throughout Utah at the Utah Digital Newspapers website. Search for “Old Folks Day” or simply, “Old Folks.”

A Google News Search for “old folks day” shows that during the final years of the 19th century, several churches in New York state were also practicing the holiday.

Photographs of old folks seem to be part and parcel with Old Folks Day, in Utah at least; Savage was, after all, a photographer by trade. If you have Utah pioneer ancestors who lived past the age of 70, chances are pretty good that you can find them in group photographs taken at the time. Here’s some details from several interesting photographs I came across:

Old Folks from Fairview, Utah Detail from George Edward Anderson, photographer, “A. J. Forth, Fairview [Utah],” The George Edward Anderson Collection (http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/u?/GEA,4844 : Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library, accessed 1 May 2009), identifier MSS_P_1_17184.jp2.

Colored ribbons indicated age. Medals shown here were for service in Indian wars.
Old Folks Day, Lagoon 1895 Detail from C. R. Savage, photographer,
“Scene during the cakewalk on Old Folks Day- July 6th, 189[8] at the Lagoon, Farmington, Utah,” C. R. Savage Collection (http://content
dm.lib.byu.edu/u?/Savage,1137
: Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library, accessed 1 May 2009), call number MSS P 24 Item 525.

Today, Lagoon is a popular amusement park, perhaps the oldest in the state. (Is that building still standing?)

Read about the Lagoon event in the Deseret News. of 1898. Or read about Old Folks Day 99 years later in the Deseret News.
Old Folks Day, SpanishFork Detail from George Edward Anderson, photographer, “Old Folks Day [Nebo Stake],” The George Edward Anderson Collection (http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/u?/GEA,2112 : Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library, accessed 1 May 2009), call number MSS P-1 # 13032.

Maybe this is the Payson outing mentioned in the 1892 Deseret News.
Old Folks Day, Castillo Springs Detail from George Edward Anderson, photographer, “Old Fo[l]ks at Dinner,” The George Edward Anderson Collection (https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/u?/GE
A,10737
:  Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library, accessed 1 May 2009), call number MSS P-1 # 4826.

“Old Folks Day” meant free food, free entertainment, and free transportation. Here, Old Folks feast at Castilla Springs, up Spanish Fork Canyon.
Old Folks Day, Price Detail from George Edward Anderson, photographer, “Old Folks Reunion at Price [Utah],” The George Edward Anderson Collection (http://contentdm.lib.byu.ed
u/u?/GEA,2168
:  Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library, accessed 1 May 2009), call number MSS P-1 # 15697.

Children are included in this photograph from Price. I’ve been told children got the leftovers from the feasts.

In parts of Orem Old Folks Day is celebrated under the name, “Young at Heart.” The Sharon Community Education Recreational Association (SCERA) provides an Annual Free Seniors Movie Day. By golly; that is today. See you there!

Happy Old Folks Day!

1 comment:

  1. Happy Old Folks Day to you, too! What a great way to honor the elders of our communities!

    Stephanie at the Irish Genealogical Research blog

    ReplyDelete