The Sacred Heart Hospital Fair
Much laughter greeted the wheel of fortune’s freaky turns.
Young ladies were winning the finest boxes of cigars, while young gents were blessed with starchy kitchen aprons and silky boudoir caps.
The Oregon mist that some might call rain had threatened attendance, but the Hospital Fair was just too much fun for anyone to stay away, and luckily, the roof of the 3-year-old Cuthbert Building at Sixth Street and Central Avenue was keeping everyone warm and dry inside.
The six-day fair, held in the winter of 1913, was a fundraiser for the Sisters of Charity of Providence, to help them equip the Sacred Heart Hospital, Medford’s newest center of medical healing.
They had used a million bricks and seven months to construct the four-story building that rose up on the edge of Nob Hill, at the intersection of Florence Avenue and Scott Street.
When the doors opened Jan. 3, 1912, the hospital had cost more than $175,000 to build. There was little money left over to completely fill its 125 private rooms, wards and operating rooms with state-of-the-art medical equipment. The fair was a partial answer.
Entertainment ranged from the Ragged Meter Twins to the glorious Zaidee.
The Twins were a piano and drum duo who each weighed less than 100 pounds, but were heavyweights when it came “to pounding out the dizzy, izzy, ragtime melodies.”
Escorted by the Bedouins of the Egyptian Desert, Zaidee was a clairvoyant. “From her eyes of unfathomed darkness peer the centuries of the Orient.” Dressed in a robe of shimmering, clinging silk, her face hidden behind a veil, wearing jewels stolen from a mummy’s tomb, she asked a mere 25 cents for a reading, “Fortunate, indeed, are those who see their future through her eyes and heed her words of wisdom.”
There was dancing every night, with everyone promised “a pretty girl for every boy and a handsome boy for every girl.”
The boys found there was a fishing pond, and the girls had a chance to win the most beautiful dolls in the world. For just a 25-cent raffle ticket, why not take a chance?
Madaline was a magnificent doll, “the most beautiful ever exhibited in the Rogue Valley.” With her dainty satin shoes and that bow in her gorgeous bonnet, “she is simply perfection.”
Lady Constance came with a full trunk of Parisian-styled clothes, and Lady Beatrice was certainly a queen, standing in splendor.
There were bride dolls with bouquets in hand, kewpie dolls and dolls from China and Japan.
The dining room could barely keep up with crowds who kept coming back for those delicious 35-cent chicken dinners. On Thanksgiving Day it was a roast turkey with all the fixins.
Two “constables” made up a mock police court, nabbing and pushing a steady stream of “culprits” to the judge who fined them all “for all they were worth.”
The raffles, auctions and over-the-counter sales ensured the fair would “close in a blaze of glory.”
After expenses, promoters handed the Sisters $2,020.08, equivalent to nearly $43,000 in today’s money.
The men turned over their prize aprons and bedroom caps to their “best girls” and, in turn, walked away, the smoke of fine cigars wafting in the air.
It had been a good week for Sacred Heart Hospital.
Writer Bill Miller is the author of “History Snoopin’,” a collection of his previous history columns and stories. Reach him at email@example.com or WilliamMMiller.com.