Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Oh, this is elementary my dear fellow"

We were clicking around the historical society's pictures at our library and came across this billboard.  It got us all excited t be sure as there is nothing like being a detective on Saturday mornings.  Childhood memories likely center around the movie theater on Saturday mornings - about 10a.m. - with Flash Gordon or a Captain Midnight - maybe a Lone Ranger thrown in.  It made for good times and an appreciation of that clear and crisp black and white, not that we didn't have CinemaScope - we refuse however to state our ages.

Before the "tube" there were just movies and before that, there was the stage - not that there isn't now - but perhaps a hundred years ago, before movie houses sprung up everywhere, traveling troops of players made their way on the circuit.  The east end of Long Island had opera houses and "halls" all over the place.  It was a coming of age for a village to build that sort of place because it meant culture and in the decades after the turn of the century (the last century not 2000 !!  you wags) we wanted to be like Europe.

William Gillette, the fellow in the picture, came to Greenport and played in the Opera House.  We actually have proof. He was the fellow from whom Basil Rathbone modeled the character that we identify from those long ago trips to the movie house or Sunday matinees on TV.  The cap, the curved pipe, the coat - all Mr. Gillette as he took to the stage all over the place with Mr. Holmes' escapades.

Mr. Gillette coined the phrase that has been reduced to "Elementary my dear Watson".   He also gave our predecessors around these parts a good deal of entertainment something to talk about for weeks on end... not to mention an iconic cap, cape and the gotcha! phrase of all time.

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