Thursday, January 15, 2015

1940 Provincetown Chamber of Commerce Brochure

Provincetown Chamber of
Commerce pamphlet, c. 1940
Provincetown has had more than 15 Town Criers in all, beginning at least by 1854, with some of them "crying" the news of the day for 20 years or more. This brochure showing a town crier in action was a promotion put out by the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce around 75 years ago. The fellow on this brochure, in his "colonial" costume, looks like Frank Andrews, a well-known and experienced actor who lasted only one season in the job, that being the summer of 1940. That is most likely the year this bit of advertising was published.
Besides luring visitors to meet our Town Crier, this folksy pamphlet featured a brief story about the oldest house in town. It also had a page advertising food and lodging at the Provincetown Inn, as well as one promoting sailing on The Boston Belle, a luxury liner with deck chairs, and room for some 3,000 passengers, with daily voyages to Provincetown in the summertime.
The early "criers" strolled along Provincetown's streets ringing a handheld bell, proclaiming the news of the day and announcing upcoming events. They all wore clothing of their day as well, rather than the "pilgrim" garb shown here. (You know, the pilgrims didn't actually wear clothes like this, either, but then that's a story for another day…)
Town Criers of the 1800s and the early 1900s typically wore a jacket with a hat and a tie, except for George W. Ready, who sported his own well-worn clothing and hat, and a neckerchief tied snappily beneath his chin. It wasn't until the 1930s that these criers were outfitted in knee breeches and capes, with buckled belts, hats and shoes, and were then expected to act more as performers for summer visitors rather than as the disseminators of actual news for the town.
"Professor" G. W. Ready, by the way, was one of the most colorful among decades of Town Criers, holding his office for many years. Watch for articles I'll be writing about him, and a number of these lively characters, in upcoming posts.

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