Jaffrey Center Village Improvement Society
All Photos by Carol Hess
“Jaffrey Center Entertains Downton Abbey, 1923” was the theme of a “Sunday Evening Social” at The Inn at East Hill Farm on Sunday, March 17. The hairstyles, clothes and music of the guest’s grandparents were on display at the Jaffrey Center Village Improvement Society’s 2013 Spring Dinner, which was greatly enjoyed by more than 80 guests.
Inspired by the Downton Abbey British television series and the 1923 Sesquicentennial Celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of Jaffrey, the Village Improvement Society had members act as Jaffrey personages of 1923 who had invited “cousins” from the Crawley clan of Downton Abbey to the evenings festivities.
Acting as Lord and Lady Grantham were Steven Jackson and Lisa Bostnar of Jaffrey. Suze Campbell, current President of the VIS, was MC for the evening, playing the part of Margaret Casson Robinson, a founder of the Village Improvement Society in 1906 and its president from 1908 to 1928.
The evening included entertainment by H. Charles Royce and Ann Royce of Jaffrey. Charles Royce, wrapped in an Indian blanket and with a feather in his hair, told amusing stories about his grandfather, William C. Royce, who dressed up as “Old Greylock,” an Abenaki Indian chief, for the August 17, 1923 Jaffrey Sesquicentennial Parade. He led a canoe convoy of young men dressed as “Indians” who rubbed cocoa on their bodies and paddled several hundred yards down the Contoocook River to downtown Jaffrey. Although it was the era of Prohibition, somehow some “spirited beverages” made their way into the canoes, made some of the Indians tipsy, and some of the young men tipped into the Contoocook and emerged streaming cocoa and water down their loincloth-clad bodies.
Ann Royce, acting as Miss Cann, the proprietess of the Oribe Tea Room on Main Street in Jaffrey Center, talked about the Oribe Japanese pottery, the atmosphere, the desserts, sandwiches and tea offered there. As a young woman, Mrs. Royce worked for Miss Cann at The Oribe, now a building that The Monadnock Inn across the street uses for receptions and parties.
Other luminaries who attended the evening were Mrs. Robinson’s husband, Professor Benjamin Robinson, curator of the Asa Gray Herbarium, played by Suze’s husband Kenneth Campbell; Mr. Lawrence Wetherell and his wife, Josephine Wetherell, the third President of the VIS from 1928 to 1948, played by Clay and Caroline Hollister. Others taking part were Mrs. Levinson (Lady Grantham’s mother) aka Ellen Avery; Mr. Bates and Anna, aka Doug and Mary Ley; the imaginary Abigail Hunt, aka Carol Hess; and Katherine and Mary Isabel Fox, two other founders of the VIS who were played by Pat MacIaac and Heather Ames. Randy Morse, Preston Clark, and Gene Pokorny were bartenders at Miss Jenny Whitcomb’s Speakeasy; Judy Hall of Troy, Miss Jenny’s actual niece, told the guests about the history of East Hill Farm. Willa Cather and her companion Edith Lewis were played by Denise Ginzler and Margaret Hawthorn of Rindge. Louise and Bernie Watson played piano and Janet Grant, Ken Campbell and Bill Raymond led people in 1920s songs.
|Jaffrey Center VIS people and their impersonators:|
|Mrs. Robinson||Suze Campbell|
|Mr. Robinson||Ken Campbell|
|Mrs. Wetherell||Caroline Hollister|
|Mr. Wetherell||Clay Hollister|
|Owner of the Wetherell’s house||Tom Angeloro|
|Miss Katherine Fox||Pat MacIsaac|
|Miss Mary Isabel Fox||Heather Ames|
|Mrs. Silas Buck||Margaret Pokorny|
|Miss Jenny Whitcomb||Judy Hall (Jenny’s niece)|
|Bartenders @ Miss Jenny Whitcomb’s Speakeasy||Randy Morse, Preston Clarke, Gene Pokorny|
|William Royce (Old Greylocks)||Charlie Royce (William’s grandson)|
|Miss Alice Cann||Ann Royce|
|Willa Cather||Denise Ginzler|
|Edith Lewis||Margaret Hawthorn|
|Downton Abbey characters and their impersonators:|
|Lord Grantham||Steve Jackson|
|Lady Grantham||Lisa Bostnar|
|Lady Edith||Nancy Lloyd|
|Mrs. Levinson||Ellen Avery|
|Mr. Bates||Doug Ley|
|Miss Abigail Hunt||Carol Hess|
|Lord and Lady Watson||Louise and Bernie Watson|