Living history – Kazoos, ‘marriage mill’ and speakeasy raids

Georgia Waugh in her kazoo orchestra uniform

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

During Prohibition, Lizzie Fuller led raids on local speakeasies.

During the Great Depression, Wallace Kramp and his farmer friends started the local “penny auctions” to save neighboring farms after foreclosures.

And Georgia Sargent Waugh led the Kitchen Kazoo Orchestra of a local homemakers group.

Their stories and more will be part of the 15th annual Wood County Living History Day on Sunday, Aug. 26, at 2 p.m., in Oak Grove Cemetery in Bowling Green. Local residents will portray citizens interred in Wood County cemeteries or those who had an impact on Wood County’s leisure time of the 1920s and 1930s.

The citizens selected this year were chosen to coincide with the “leisure time” exhibit at the Wood County Historical Center & Museum, “The Return to Normalcy: A Life of Leisure in Wood County.”

The annual Living History Day draws a crowd to the cemetery because it gives a glimpse into everyday people who lived in Wood County, said Kelli Kling, director of the Wood County Historical Center.

“I think it’s popular because the people being portrayed are real people,” Kling said. “It’s not necessarily the celebrities. It’s people just like us, who made an impact on Wood County.”

This year’s portrayals include people with intriguing hobbies or occupations.

For example, Georgia Waugh and her kazoo orchestra. “That’s such an unusual thing,” Kling said. “There will actually be a performance at the event.”

Also portrayed will be Paul Fuller, who had a role in the Bowling Green “marriage mill.”

“Bowling Green was an area where a lot of people passed through to get married,” Kling said. “There was a bit of a competition going on” to see who could marry the most couples.

Then there’s Lizzie Fuller, who grew up in a strict Christian household in Grand Rapids, where travelers frequented on the canal boats. She was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which considered alcohol an evil. So she led raids on speakeasies, where alcohol was sold on the sly during Prohibition.

“She felt it was her duty to protest against them,” Kling said.

Following is a list of all the people being portrayed, as well as the people taking on their roles for the Living History Day event.

“I love the fact that they’re all being portrayed by local folks,” Kling said.

Raymond George (1889 – 1930) – Conductor of the First Methodist Church orchestra and a member of the Bowling Green Military Band. Portrayed by local musician Cleve Patton.

Nettie Lincoln

Nettie Willard Lincoln (1863 – 1947) – A southern socialite, member of the Shakespeare Round Table, and notable landscape artist. Portrayed by Dinah Vincent.

Paul Fuller (1907 – 1999) – Professionally, an award-winning advertising manager for the Sentinel-Tribune, but locally dubbed a collaborator of the Bowling Green Marriage Mill. Portrayed by Thomas Edge.

Lizzie Fuller

Lizzie Fuller (1857 – 1940) – As part of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement in Grand Rapids, helped lead raids on the local speakeasies during Prohibition. Portrayed by Stephanie Truman.

Ernest Walter

Viola Walter

Ernest (1980-1973) and Viola (1913-1992) Walter – Owners of the Virginia Motion Picture Theatre, North Baltimore from 1936-1959. Portrayed by: David and Ellin Stoots.

Wallace Kramp (1893 – 1952) This local farmer, with a community of his friends, was the catalyst for what may have been the first local Depression-era penny auction. Portrayed by Michael Ginnetti.

Georgia Waugh

Georgia Sargent Waugh (1891 – 1974) – The leader of the Kitchen Kazoo Orchestra of the Portage Township homemakers. Portrayed by Michele Raine, Wood County District Public Library.

The event is free is open to the public. Other event details and past honorees can be found at woodcountyhistory.org

“A Joyful Noise” will provide music before the event. Parking is available in the cemetery, as well as on the adjacent BGSU campus. The Wood County Sheriff’s Auxiliary will provide free rides up to the mound where the program will be held. Chairs are available, although those attending are encouraged to bring a lawn chair.  In case of heavy rain, the program will be moved to the First United Methodist Church, 1506 E. Wooster St.

Support for this program was provided by the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club, Exchange Club of Bowling Green, Portage Center Arbor Gleaners 524, Delphos Granite, Montessori School of Bowling Green, Wood County Genealogical Society, Bowling Green Community Foundation, Wood County Historical Society, Oak Grove Cemetery, City of Bowling Green, First United Methodist Church, Wood County Sheriff & Auxiliary, Wood County District Public Library, Dunn’s Funeral Home, DBD Sound Reinforcement, BG Kiwanis Aktion Club, and the Living History Day committee.

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