Sunday, March 7, 2010

Speech By Kinetophone

Picking up from yesterday's post, this is longer item from later in the month when another Kinetophone film had evidently been made featuring the Street Cleaning commissioner. This film was shown at the New York Hippodrome, which is remarkable for its size—the theater holds more than 5,000.

“Big Bill” Edwards Host To 5,000 Men

Commissioner Gives an Entertainment at Hippodrome
for Street Cleaning Employes.

Speech By Kinetophone
Department Workers Congratulated on Their Splendid
Work in the City Clean-Up.

Nearly 5,000 men of the Department of Street Cleaning attended a special performance arranged for them yesterday at the Hippodrome. The entertainment opened with a concert by the Department of Street Cleaning Band, and then Commissioner “Big Bill” Edwards stepped forward on the stage. When the cheering had died away Mr. Edwards welcomed the workers of his department, and congratulated them on the splendid manner in which there had gone about the recent Spring clean-up of the city.

The special performance was arranged for the Commissioner, as a mark of appreciations of the work of the men of the Department of Street Cleaning throughout the last year generally, and in particular during the recent Spring clean-up campaign.

Mr. Edwards, wearing a silk hat and frock coat, was t the main entrance of the big playhouse when the first of the guests began to arrive for the performance. He stayed there until the house was filled to its capacity, acting as a special escort to many of the veterans of his department, whom he led by the hand to their boxes and seats. When Mr. Edwards appeared on the stage, following the band concert, he said:

“I have seen most of you men before, and I am glad to welcome you here this afternoon. I am not going to make you a speech, because later you will hear me give to the men of the Department of Street Cleaning a new kind of talk on the kinetophone, recently perfected by Thomas A. Edison. I hope you will all have a profitable and pleasant afternoon.”

The kinetophone was then put in operation while Commissioner Edwards retired from the stage to his box. In the prelude was shown a crowd of college boys, who started to sing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” until they were drowned out by the audience applauding. When the college boys finished their song one of them stepped to the front in the picture and made the presentation of the Commissioner.

For a few moments it was simply a motion picture performance by Mr. Edwards, for his words were lost in the uproar created by his 5,000 loyal men as he came forward in the picture to address them. When the audience was quieted his speech could be plainly heard until interrupted again by the enthusiastic street cleaners.

“I am allowed through the courtesy of Mr. Edison to make an address to the 6,500 men of the Department of Street Cleaning,” said he, “and I am very glad to thank you for the good work you are giving to the City of New York.

“Few people realize that every morning 6,500 men start out to clean the streets of this city, and I am glad to speak to the men of this department who earn their money by the sweat of their brows. Their work is the hardest of any city department, and there is not the slightest question that your salaries should be increased. I am confident that this will come sooner or later. The people of this city ought to arise and call you most efficient. I believe that a large majority of them do.

“The cleaner the streets are the fewer will be the beds in the city’s hospitals, because clean streets largely do away with unsanitary conditions.

“Nothing tends toward good street cleaning conditions so much as the cooperation of the people themselves. This city must realize that it can do just as much as the Department of Street Cleaning. The street cleaners leave their jobs at 4 o’clock in the morning, and after that it is up to the citizens of the city to decide whether the streets shall be kept clean. They should consider how much paper and rubbish they throw on the streets. It is estimated that it costs the city $50,000 additional each year for the time used by the department in picking up paper and other rubbish thrown in the streets.

“Those who criticise must criticise intelligently. Those who want clean streets must help. Every one is responsible for the condition of the streets of New York City. My whole idea of co-operation is contained in the following verse:

Why don’t they keep the streets a little cleaner?
You ask with keen amazement, not undue.
Why don’t they keep the parks a little cleaner?
Did you ever stop to think that this means you?

“Yes this means you and every other citizen in this city. You have a responsibility to bear. See that you bear that responsibility, and see that your neighbor do something to keep the streets clean. It is hardest to help those who will not help themselves. In some localities the streets are littered ten minutes after the street cleaners have left them clean.”
Source: “‘Big Bill’ Edwards Host To 5,000 Men,” New York Times 26 May 1913, 16.