“A SHOW WEEK AFTER NEXT MARCH 11TH 1876 IT WILL BE AT HARVEY LOSEES. IT WILL PERFORM WITH MAGIC LANTERN. IT WILL BE SEVEN OCLOCK AT NIGHT. IT WILL BE A GOOD SHOW. AD MISSION ONLY 2 CENTS. DO. NOT. FAIL TO ATTEND”
This invitation is from my mother’s collection of family items. Harvey Losee was my great-grandfather. He was John Losee’s father (the gentleman who took the Kodachrome images I post here, remember him?) Harvey’s house was and still is located in Upper Red Hook on Spring Lake Road, click here for google maps to see exactly where. The home was called the Thomas House and has a history of its own that will be featured in our next post.
Harvey (on the right c. 1876) was born 30 Mar 1867 in Upper Red Hook to Dr. John Eckart Losee and Mary Elizabeth Knickerbocker. He attended Rutgers (class of 1889) and like his father before him took on the profession of country doctor. Raised with a bit of country wealth, Harvey thought very highly of himself as the essay I’ll post tomorrow will probably affirm.
I don’t know if the Losees owned a magic lantern or if it was borrowed or rented for the amusement of their friends for an evening. I imagine the one used on this March evening in the countryside in Dutchess County was a small device powered by a candle rather than the larger, multiple-lensed varieties used to put on shows for large public crowds. On researching what exactly a magic lantern is I learned something new. The larger, more complex lanterns used limelight for the light source. On googling further, I learned that “before the advent of electric lighting, white stage lighting was produced by heating lime in the flame of a torch, and this light was called limelight” (source: Chemical of the Week click the link for more science). The term “in the limelight” comes from this compound being used in theaters before electric lighting. Neat! Dangerous, but neat!
The Randall-Slater Collection website has great examples of Victorian magic lantern show material featuring what you could call the forerunner of the animated .gif – multiple glass slides moved through the lantern to produce a effect of motion. Sadly, my family has neither the lantern Harvey used nor any of the slides to show you what he might have shown his friends in Upper Red Hook.