Past Exhibitions

A Family Album

In August of 1949 the Oysterponds Historical Society presented an entertainment or pageant at Poquatuck Hall with the title “Family Album.” The evening took the form of a series of tableaux vivants representing life in Oysterponds around the turn of the last century. Originally titled “Through the Years,” it was by any standard a major undertaking and involved over one hundred members of the community. Fortunately for us it was a well-documented event. Some sixty-eight years later we have an excellent idea of how the entertainment unfolded.

The idea originated with Mildred Prince, a very active member and major donor to OHS. The large blow-up of the program at the far end of the gallery gives an indication of the number of people involved in organizing and producing the event – some 37 in all. The number of cast members appearing in the tableaux was 70 (some were in more than one tableau). Two of the key participants were Constance Terry who wrote the texts and was the reader, and Dorothy Robertson who was the director. The event took place over two nights (August 26 – 27), but it is unclear whether the program was repeated the second night, or half was given each evening.

Each tableau was photographed by Coral Jennings and arranged in an album with the original text. Melita Hofmann made a series of vibrant watercolors of fourteen of the tableaux and those have found their way to OHS thanks to Joyce Burton. Many of the props used in the various tableaux eventually came to the Historical Society and are part of the collection. A few of those props have been included in the current exhibition together with the photographs, texts, and watercolors.

Exhibit Items

The Schoolhouse (the building you are in) came to OHS just the year before this event took place, and it is thought “Family Album” might have been a fundraiser to pay for some of the expenses involved in setting up the Schoolhouse. The net profit for the event was $438.67.

Twenty-seven years later, as part of the Bi-Centennial celebrations at OHS, the format of “Family Album” was resurrected and another series of tableaux was produced. Instead of being held at Poquatuck Hall, a stage was erected in front of the Schoolhouse surrounded by a huge frame to make each scene a “living picture.” Paddy Soito, a participant in that event, has recently given OHS an album with photographs of each tableau. It is the perfect complement to this exhibition and is on view in a nearby case.

We are grateful to Sarah Olmstead, Gail Horton, Paddy Soito, and the OHS Tuesday Crew (Bob Hulsmann, Joe Papa, and Peter Werden) for their help with this exhibition.

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