America Learns to Play: A History of Popular Recreation, 1607-1940

By Foster Rhea Dulles | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
"IN DETESTATION OF IDLENESS"

THE SETTLERS WHO PLANTED THE FIRST ENGLISH COLONIES IN America had the same instinctive drive for play that is the common heritage of all mankind. It suffered no sea change in the long and stormy crossing of the Atlantic. Landing at Jamestown, Sir Thomas Dale found the almost starving colonists playing happily at bowls in 1611.1 The first Thanksgiving at Plymouth was something more than an occasion for prayer. Edward Winslow wrote that among other recreations the Pilgrims exercised their arms and for three days entertained and feasted the Indians.2

Against the generally somber picture of early New England life may also be set the lively account of those gay and wanton festivities at Merry Mount. To the consternation of "the precise separatists, that lived at new Plymouth," the scapegrace followers of Thomas Morton set up a May-pole, brought out wine and strong waters, and invited the Indians to join them:

Drinke and be merry, merry, merry boyes,
Let all your delight be in the Hymens joyes,
Joy to Hymen now the day is come,
About the merry Maypole take a Roome.
Make greene garlons, bring bottles out
And fill sweet Nectar freely about.
Uncover thy head and fear no harme,
For hers good liquor to keepe it warme.3

____________________
All numerical symbols throughout the text refer to source references to be found in the notes at the end of the book. They may be ignored by the reader not interested in such material.

-3-

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America Learns to Play: A History of Popular Recreation, 1607-1940
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xiii
  • Illustrations xv
  • Chapter I - In Detestation of Idleness 3
  • Chapter II - Husking-Bees and Tavern Sports 22
  • Chapter III - The Colonial Aristocracy 44
  • Chapter IV - The Frontier 67
  • Chapter V - A Changing Society 84
  • Chapter VI - The Theatre Comes of Age 100
  • Chapter VII - Mr. Barnum Shows the Way 122
  • Chapter VIII - The Beginning of Spectator Sports 136
  • Chapter IX - Mid-Century 148
  • Chapter X - Cow-Towns and Mining-Camps 168
  • Chapter XI - The Rise of Sports 182
  • Chapter XII - The New Order 201
  • Chapter XIII - Metropolis 211
  • Chapter XIV - World of Fashion 230
  • Chapter XV - Main Street 248
  • Chapter XVI - Farm and Countryside 271
  • Chapter XVII - The Growth of the Movies 287
  • Chapter XVIII - A Nation on Wheels 308
  • Chapter XIX - On the Air 320
  • Chapter XX - The Great American Band-Wagon 332
  • Chapter XXI - Sports for All 347
  • Chapter XXII - The New Leisure 365
  • Bibliography 375
  • Notes 391
  • Index 425
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