Globe Theatre

Singers lose their clothes.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 June 1922.

Two unnamed African-American entertainers, described as “singers of note and the highest priced among their race,” were robbed of their wardrobes before a performance at the Globe Theatre. Booker Dew and Sylvester Jones were charged with the theft, and Gussie Davis, Marie Wallace, and Maggie Jefferson with receiving stolen goods. Globe owner Samuel H. Vick, Allen Armstrong, and Noah Tate appeared in court as witnesses.

——

  • Booker Washington Dew — Booker T. Washington was a popular inspiration for names of African-American boys in the early 20th century. Almost universally, however, such children were named “Booker T.,” rather than “Booker W.” Thus, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 602 Stantonsburg Street, widow Maggie Dew, 48, and children Maggie, 21, Alfred, 18, T. Booker, 14, and Mildred, 3. Booker T. Dew died 22 May 1923. Per his death certificate, he was born 20 July 1905 in Wilson to Jackson Dew and Maggie Thompson; worked as a day laborer; and lived at 602 Stantonsburg Street. Maggie Belle Rutherford was informant.
  • Sylvester Jones
  • Gussie Davis
  • Marie Wallace
  • Maggie Jefferson — perhaps, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 607 Spring Street, carpenter John Jefferson, 68, and wife Maggie, 31. And/or, in the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jefferson Maggie tobwkr 622 Wiggins
  • Samuel H. Vick
  • Allen Armstrong — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: public laborer Allen Armstrong, 35, and mother Ellen Armstrong, 70, widow, cook. [Both were described as born in Texas, but other records indicate the more likely North Carolina.]
  • Noah Tate

Machine operator at the moving picture theatre.

When Hood Vick registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1917, he listed his occupation as “machine operator moving picture theatre” and C.L. Jones as his employer. The theatre was the Globe, which operated on the second floor of the Odd Fellows building. Samuel H. Vick is credited as its founder, but in the 1916 Wilson city directory, Charles Jones is listed as the Globe‘s proprietor.

Big colored picture.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 October 1922.

Here’s Turner Classic Movies’ synopsis of Spitfire, which was released by Reol Productions in January 1922: “Guy Rogers, the son of a well-known publisher, sets out to prove his father’s racist critics wrong by putting Booker T. Washington’s philosophy into practice. He goes to a little Maryland Hills town where through his efforts a school and a library are built. He falls in love with Ruth Hill, whose recently widowed father, an ex-schoolteacher, is killed after being involved in horse thievery. ‘Buck’ Bradley, the local dealer in hay and feed, who put Ruth’s father up to the crime, has been made her guardian, and he beats up Guy when he tries to defend her. She nurses Guy back to health, love blooms, and they marry.”

Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds — one day only!

Every week or so, a large manila envelope arrives in the mail, postmarked Wilson, N.C. Inside, a sheaf of xeroxed newspaper clippings from late 19th and early 20th century editions of the Wilson Daily Times. Bobby Boykin is the benefactor, and I thank him mightily, especially when gems like this appear:

Wilson Daily Times, 25 January 1921.

Just a few months past the earth-shattering release of “Crazy Blues,” the first blues recording by a Black artist for a Black audience, Mamie Smith and Jazz Hounds would have been a hot ticket anywhere, much less Wilson. The band played three shows in a single day at the Globe Theatre, Samuel H. Vick‘s vaudeville hall/movie theatre on the second floor of the Odd Fellows Lodge on East Nash Street. Darcy Yancey and Isaac Shade were selling tickets at their respective drugstores. 

(If I could time-travel, I’d want not only to see Smith perform at the Globe, but see who saw her perform at the Globe.)

Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds, including Willie “The Lion” Smith on piano, 1920.  Donaldson Collection/Getty Images.

2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the release of “Crazy Blues.” For more about the significance of Mamie Smith’s work, see Daphne A. Brooks’ New York Times piece, “100 Years Ago, ‘Crazy Blues’ Sparked a Revolution for Black Women Fans,” published August 10.

Mamie Smith publicity photo, Apeda Studio, New York, circa 1922, in collection of Old Hat Records.

Theatrical jottings.

Samuel H. Vick‘s Globe Theatre was the first black-owned moving picture theatre in Wilson. As early as 1914, the Globe occupied the second floor of the Odd Fellows Hall at 549-551 Nash Street and, in its earliest days, under the management of J.J. Privett, also hosted vaudeville acts.

Here, from the New York Age‘s weekly “Theatrical Jottings” column in 1914 are announcements of the Globe’s offerings:

1 22

22 January.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 9.58.26 PM

29 January.

2 12

12 February.

3 19

19 March.

3 26

26 March.

9 17

17 September.

9 24

24 September.

A teenaged Ethel Waters joined the Hill Sisters act when it passed through Philadelphia and, on the road with them, gained the sobriquet “Sweet Mama Stringbean.” See Cullen et al.’s Vaudeville Old and New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performances in America, volume 1.