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I’m thrilled to discover entirely new stories, like this one, which I found after following up some info I’d seen on a historical marker sign in Bath, NC, a month ago.  Click here and scroll to see the historical marker.  I saw it briefly in the headlights but took no photos.

When I googled “floating theater bath nc,” I learned a book had been written about this barge and immediately ordered a copy of the book, where I got the stories, including the one about “G-string” shows, which I’ll explain at the end of this post.  I guarantee you’ll be surprised.  Click here for some details about Prof. Gillespie’s process in writing the book.

James  Adams used two tugs–Elk and Trouper— to move the “floating theater” from town to town in the Chesapeake and the estuarial fingers of North Carolina back in the days when movie theaters and certainly mass entertainment penetrated into all the hamlets and backwaters of this portion of the US.

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Although I’d never heard of this entertainment in the backwaters where I was born, it’s fairly well covered with blogposts like this and newspaper articles like this. The Chesapeake Log has done a story.   In fact, there’s a group that wishes to recreate the barge.

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Needless to say, any project on the water always faces this danger from its element, among other perils.

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November 1929

Between venues, Elk and Trouper would tow the barge, like horses moving the old time traveling carnival to the next town.

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Now about “G-string” shows . . . From page 63 of the book, “there were three primary comic characters in the repertoire theater . . .[one was the G-string character], an old man, the geezer.  He was evolved from the 19th century comic Yankee character, sometimes with a dose of the frontiersman thrown in.  …  squeaky male voice and a goatee-like beard.  The cartoon Uncle Sam is a G-string character.”  I’ve looked online for other references to this meaning of G-string . . . with no corroboration.

Who knew?  Edna Ferber and her Showboat . . . which I don’t know well . . . I thought that was based on Mississippi traffic.  The sixth boro and the Hudson have their very own Lehigh Valley 79 Showboat Barge as in here, here, and here.  There was once the floating entertainments of Periwinkle and Driftwood . . .  now all gone.And the whole eastern seaboard has Amara Zee . . . (scroll) Caravan Stage Company.

I think it’s high time Edna Ferber’s story gets reinterpreted as a movie, this time including Elk and Trouper.

 

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