During the early 1900s, Napans enjoyed numerous options for entertainment as either spectators, participants or both.
One 1916 Napa Daily Register page featured three articles about local activities and events. The first article reported the outcome of a dance competition: “The waltz contest given by Prof. Leischmann at the Native Sons Hall was concluded on Thursday evening and was a huge success from all standpoints. A large crowd was present to witness the closing of the contest.”
The Register continued with the list of local winners as well as named the four Napa judges—“Misses Sneider, Cavagnaro, Valencia and Arnitz.” The Register added, “Prof. Leischmann was well pleased with the decisions of the judges and wishes to thank them for their favors.”
The adjoining headline announced, “Concert Tonight.” The Register reported, “This evening is the date of the concert to be given at the (Baptist Church’s) Guild Hall, by Mynard Sherman Jones, for the benefit of the music shelf in the Goodman Library.”
The article continued, “The programme will include a rare musical treat, and all music lovers should attend. The object is a worthy one, as many who otherwise would be debarred, can have access to classical music.” In addition to listing the performers, the article noted the admission was 50 cents per person.
Regarding the “rare musical treat,” the final paragraph of the article stated a Miss Clifford, “a Californian residing in Berkeley,” was to perform medleys of songs by American composers. According to the Register’s glowing review, Clifford, her fellow soloists and Jones all received enthusiastic applause from the large crowd of local music enthusiasts.
For those who were more sports-minded, the third and final article of the 1916 trio announced the formation of the “Amphibians,” a swim club. The Register wrote, the organization “will undoubtedly prove a substantial addition to the athletic department of this city. The club’s object is to prompt aquatic sports in general and especially in speed swimming and fancy diving.”
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The club was composed of 15 charter members. These local boys and young men were all well known throughout Napa County for their aquatic talents and abilities. Their manager and coach, Jack Robertson, was a San Francisco Olympic Club swimming star. He was one of the foremost speed swimmers of the Pacific Coast. In fact, in 1915, he had won all of his swim meet competitions.
The newspaper reported the Amphibians’ season would run from April 1 to Nov. 1. The Register added, “The club will hold their meets at ‘Wilson’s Beach’ in Napa river which for sometime past has been a rendezvous for swimmers.” It added, the Amphibians “should establish quite a ‘rep’ this Summer.”
The theme of outdoor activity was continued in two 1920 Napa Daily Journal articles. The first piece announced Napa councilman Fred Blanchard “was putting in a lot of new play apparatus in Fuller Park...to rightly and efficiently amuse the rising generation.”
According to the article, Blanchard single-handedly raised all of the necessary funds to purchase and install the equipment. The Journal wrote, “Mr. Blanchard says he does not know of any better way to teach boys and girls to be honorable than to give them a chance to play with their comrades. On the playground they can learn fair play (and) display the true sporting spirit.”
A few days later, a Journal headline announced, “Joy Was Rampant At Park Sunday.” The article reported a large crowd had assembled for the dedication of the new playground equipment.
Following Blanchard’s speech and a music program performed by the Julius Weyand Band, “scores of youngsters were availing themselves of the different amusements...Mr. Blanchard’s own participation in the kiddies’ joy was shown by the happy smile on his face as he watched them play.”
The Journal added, “Mr. Blanchard is to be commended for bringing this about, and the children are to be congratulated in having a friend so much interested in their welfare.”