The people of St Marys celebrate 1919 Peace Day

IN 1919 on Victoria Park at St Marys an energetic committee of Secretary Mr Marx left no stone unturned to make the celebrations worthy of St Marys. Mr Marx was well supported in his efforts by Mrs Young the  Secretary of the local Red Cross Society along with Mayor Alderman Morris and other prominent townspeople. Earlier  that week the children assembled at the school at 9.30am when a thanksgiving hymn of peace was rendered and Peace medals were presented along with cheers for the King, our soldiers and sailors and Australia, after the children were dismissed for the day. On the Saturday morning a start was made with the children’s sports on Victoria Park that was open to all the children of the district no matter what school and most of the events were finished by dinner time.  Mr C Sheppard the new schoolmaster and a returned soldier, was unable to attend as he was morally bound to attend a function in Sydney that had been arranged by his friends, but the children were under the able supervision of Mr Marx and Miss Ford. The chief event of the day was the procession that started shortly after two o’clock from the park and proceeded to the station and back again. It was a display well worth seeing, presenting some unique samples of ingenuity and good taste in the matter of dresses and decorations.  In the front marched the St Marys band under the conductorship of Mr A C Johnson, then came the Mayor and Alderman, the returned soldiers and senior cadets. A Red Cross display followed and it evoked unanimous praise from the spectators as a neat and appropriate get-up.  A lorry tastefully decorated with greenery and ribbons carried a “cot case” attended by Red Cross nurses. The patient played his part well. St Marys Comforts Fund girls with their beautiful banner were next in order and were followed by Sydney University students Miss Denham and Miss E Smith in their caps and gowns and bearing a large Union Jack that closed this part of the procession. The fancy dresses had next place with the gay, the artistic, the picturesque, the novel and the grotesque all represented in this part of the pageant. Miss Evelyn Morris was very nicely attired to represent “Peace and Victory”, Miss Nellie Chesham came as “Uncle Sam”, Mr George Chesham came as a beautiful young lady who merited the greeting “You’re the One” and Miss M Chesham as “Little Red Riding Hood”.  Four children of Mr William H Parkin were cleverly arranged for the occasion, but special reference must be made to young Max Parkin who was a “scream” as “Old Times” in blackened countenance, “sun downer” attire, a clay pipe and a very small dog on a big chain, he was indeed a clever novelty and acted his part remarkably well.  Evelyn Parkin with a Dolly Varden hat and crinoline skirt appeared as the well known Dickensonian character. Bessie Parkin was next wearing a costume of flags was there as “The Allies” and Annie Parkin was a Happy-Jap-Jap. After the fancy dresses came the Peace banner and the school children, followed by the Druids, Oddfellows (I.O.O.F.), C Wedesweiler and Charlie Hackett as jockeys, the “worst turn-out” and sulkies competing for the best turn-out.  The “worst turn-out” was a real Keystone item in the procession and was exhibited by Mr C Gibson and was driven by A Stonestreet jnr.  It was labelled “J J Jenkins’ wild west show tonight”. On the return journey a halt was made in front of the honour board at the Mechanic’s Institute on the highway where the “Last Post” was blown. Mrs Jackson of “The Glen” and Alderman Morris had very thoughtfully arranged an emblem on the board in memory of the fallen. After the procession arrived back at the park, judging the costume and turn-outs was proceeded with and awards were made as follows – Fancy dress: Miss Evelyn Morris, Comical dress” Max Parkin, Best Turn-out: Red Cross Wagon, Worst Turn-out: Mr Gibson’s “Wild West Show” that had a cat in a cage on the rear of the truck.  When the children had reassembled on the park, cheers were given in response to the mayors call for the King and Peace Day. His Worship briefly addressed the gathering and reminded them that they were celebrating the greatest victory the world had known. The Commonwealth Government had issued medals in connection with the day and the Committee hoped to impress this important victory on the children’s minds.  They wanted the memory of the day to remain with the children all their lives as there is a peace that we believed to be a just peace and we hoped it would be a lasting peace.  Great men had been laying down rules with a view to preventing wars and he hoped that they would be successful.  He was sorry to say that while we were celebrating that victory the spirit that promoted the war was still rampant among us.  It was the people who made a country great, and he hoped that as they grew older, they would realise what victory meant.  He hoped the children would realise how much they owed to those men who had fought for us and asked them to do all they could to make this country great. To be patriotic did not mean that they must hate other countries. They could love their brothers and sisters but that did not mean that they must hate their neighbours. At the Mayor’s request, the children gave three cheers for the returned soldiers.  Mr Marx asked the children to give three cheers for the people who had promoted the day’s enjoyment for them.  These were heartily given.  The National Anthem was then rendered.  The band rendered good music on the park during the afternoon.  The following are the results of the sports:- Boys 16 & under: S Andrews (1), Boys 12 to 14: J Fryer (1), Boys 10 to 12: C Watt (1), Boys 8 to 10: N Young (1), Boys 6 to 8: S Andrews (1), Boys under 6: F Hackett (1), Girls 14 to 16: Doris Peacock (1), Girls 12 to 14: Jean Bennett (1), Girls 10 to 12: Edith Leeder (1), Girls 8 to 10: Janet Page (1), Girls 6 to 8: Marjorie Thompson (1). All girls under six were given prize books.  Returned Soldier’s Race: Clarrie Gersbach (1), Huie Rose (2) – Sweetheart’s Race: Mr Purcell and Miss Thompson – Old Buffer’s Race: T Ryan (1), C Adams (2) – Bandsmen’s Race: J Hope – Girl’s Hopping Race: O’Brien.  In the evening a large bonfire was lit on Church Hill forming a link in the chain of bonfires lit throughout the state.

Source: Nepean Times 26th July, 1919 – Celebrations at St Marys – An Attractive Pageant