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Page 49 text:
y bri y o 7
}t $Jagrant af Para
"Out of the mists that round thee lie,
Come forth, O spirit of years gone by!"
The pageantry of the middle ages was an unconscious thing. Gleaming armor and challenging trumpets, fluttering pennons and all the colorful splendor of procession, joust and tournament, were a natural accompaniment to the life of the mediaeval nobles. Of the nobles, 1 say; for drab indeed was the existence of the ‘‘submerged half,” the mass of the people, in that day.
Twentieth century pageantry is something quite other than that. Today through the pageant we seek consciously to revisualize for ourselves the dignity and meaning of that marching past which has made us, our time, our town, our state, what it is now. And the pageant of today, in England and America differs from the pageantry of old in another fundamental. It is the artistic creation of the whole community. The influence of this type of civic art. in knitting together the heterogenous elements of an American commonwealth, into a sense of genuine kinship, has yet to be measured.
Nebraska is feeling the proud significance of her statehood in this her semi-centennial anniversary year. This comes home to Peru with special force; for Peru is one of that chain of river towns forming the link between the old eastern home and the pioneer outposts of the west. More than that, here in Peru, in the very year when Nebraska achieved statehood, was proclaimed Nebraska’s belief that a sound citizenship demands a trained teaching corps and the struggling Methodist seminary, which had already taken upon itself this high civic task, was transferred to the state as its first normal school. It is especially fitting, then, that Peru commemorate this anniversary.
At a meeting of the Peru Commercial Club in April, 1916, President Hayes proposed that a community pageant be made a part of Peru’s 1867-1917 celebration. The suggestion was adopted, the club pledged its hearty support, and ever since then the Pageant of Peru has been growing from a vision into a reality. In most communities undertaking a pageant, a so-called “pageant-master” has been employed to write the book and direct the enterprise. Peru, however, followed the precedent of the University of North Dakota. The Normal School faculty elected as a pageant committee six of its members: Professor F. C. Smith, (chairman) ; Miss Esther Clark, Miss
Rose Clark, Miss Mutz, Miss Bowen, and I)r. House. 'I'his committee was to organize the project, to write the book of the pageant, and to be responsible for its presentation during commencement week, 1917. The task loomed large, and the committee set to work at once. The library staff saw to it that all the important pageant literature published in this country was soon on the shelves,—a fascinating literature, too, one that kindles the reader’s imagination and fires his civic zeal, as he sees what other communities have done to honor a noble past. Further inspiration was gained through witnessing the presentation by the city of Lincoln, of the “Gate City Pageant,” in June, 1916.
During summer school the committee formulated the big problems of the enterprise,
Page 48 text:
y°(?ri y or
was immediately rejected by the state legislature, the grounds tor the refusal being that they wanted the state university located at the capitol, to aid in its growth.
The system of normal schools was then discussed, and after a long and stormy struggle in the senate, the first state normal school in the state, one of very few in the United States, was brought to Peru. In connection with the school, the names of three men stand out, perhaps, a little above the rest. They are Major Daily, Dr. John F. Neal, and Col. T. J. Majors. Major Daily was largely instrumental in transferring the old school from Pawnee City to Peru. Dr. Neal, aided by Rev. Hiram Burch and Mrs. C. B. McKenzie, donated the ground upon which it stands, and Colonel Majors has always had its best interests at heart in all ways.
The first appropriation for the maintenance of the new school was one of three thousand dollars. Another of ten thousand was soon secured ; and later, through the efforts of Colonel Majors and his associates a third of thirty-five thousand dollars was secured for the erection of the oldest building upon the campus today, the old training building. This fiftieth anniversary has been further signalized by its outgrowth and the completion of its successor, the magnificent structure which bears the name of the man to whom, among others, we owe the existence of our school, T. J. Majors.
For the last half century since her establishment, the history of Peru has been practically that of the great state with which she was originated. A steady, symmetrical expansion, at all times proportionate to, at times exceeding, the demands made upon her. Starting with the inevitably few, through the whole-hearted support and sacrifice of her backers, she has attained that eminence which only wise jurisdiction and excellence of ideals can bring. Year by year she has grown. Year by year she has strengthened and broadened, her alumni going to the four corners of the world as her best advertisements, her colors upheld on many a hard-fought football field. Under her present administration she stands at what is now the zenith of her greatness. May she grow greater with the years.
Peru the Cibola of many a youthful Coronado, the sunny little city of our dreams; can we ever forget her! With the coming of the warm days of spring, the awakening of the roadsides and fence corners, can we help a retrospective thought, tinged, perhaps warmly with regret? Will we want to come back?
The clear Sunday afternoon, warm with the breath of a laggard summer, the inevitable walk to the river, the bluish, sun-crowned bluffs of Iowa, the lagging steps as home and supper draw near; they arc indelible in our memory. Unforgetablc is the thrill of a Peruvian dawn, or the gold and purple glory of her sunset hills. Ask an alumnus what days of his life he values most, and his answer will be that those nearest his heart arc those spent in a quaint, old-fashioned town on the river, days born in the rosclight of a dream, buried in the gold of its attainment among the hills and hollows of old Peru. G. Talbot Hunt, ’17.
Page 50 text:
worked out in the rough a plan tor the book, divided tin task of investigating tin-various sources of historical information,—and grew more enthusiastic with each weekly meeting, as the big possibilities of the theme began to show themselves in flu-reports made. OKI residents of Peru told picturesque stories of early pioneer days, of tense war times, of gay, long-remembered evenings when a steamboat tied up at tilt-landing for over night. There was enough for a week’s pageant. What a pity tin-need for compressing it into an evening’s limits forbade including everything!—that the students of these comfortable days here could not see their predecessors carrying water cutting their own wood, wearing the same gingham dress all week for nine months, washing and ironing it on Saturdays!—that all the quietly dramatic life of a simple early day, with its hardship, its fun and its flavor of fine ruggedness, could not be put on the stage in detail!
The problem of elimination occupied many hours during the weekly evenings together. Hut finally the book was outlined, and different epochs or episodes apportioned to be written. These episodes were in turn read before the committee, discussd with a fine-democratic freedom of speech, often rewritten more than once, as a new bit of material altered the situation, or the good of the whole demanded revision,—in fact, the book was a genuine piece of collaboration. Miss Rose Clark, a geologist with an imagination, conceived and wrote the prologue and the first part—the age of preparation. M iss Bowen formulated the Indian scene, utilizing a wonderful nature ceremony, practiced by the Indians in Nebraska, with the addition of a lyric composed by Dr. House to MacDowell’s music. Miss Esther Clark wrote the pioneer episode, with its lyrics; Miss Bowen and Professor Smith the early life of the town, Professor Smith collecting the material. Miss Mutz worked over the history of the school and wrote the group of episodes dealing with this topic, I)r. House contributing the symbolic episode of the transfer. To Dr. House was assigned the writing of the foreword and the editorship. Miss Victoria Wilkinson of the art department designed the cover. So the book was made.
The book was done. Now for the presentation. From the beginning there had rested upon Professor Smith, as chairman, the heavy task of organization, of setting the various wheels of the enterprise in motion, of keeping endless details in mind, and of meeting the difficulties that arose. Now he put before the committee his plan of executive organization, and a community committee was appointed to handle each aspect of the big undertaking,—finance, publicity, transportation, stage setting, properties, supervision of grounds and costumes. Miss Dunn as dramatic adviser, gave untiringly of her fine technical skill in the rehearsals, which were in general charge of Miss Rose Clark and Miss Bowen. The art classes worked in the designing and decorating of the costumes with Miss Mutz, chairman of the committee of valiant women who made these. The poster advertising of the pageant was designed by Miss Crumley and executed by Miss Wilkinson. Miss Thomas and Miss Carpenter were most helpful in the selection and arrangement of appropriate music, while I)r. House directed the choruses constituting so large a part of the pageant’s charm. The dances of the first part were originated by Miss Downing, who also drilled some of those in the
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