Brother Gardner

Brother Gardner

Lime Kiln Club:  So named by the author Charles Bertrand Lewis, who published a ficitional text recording the regular meetings of this Club's black membership. The minutes of the procedings appeared first in the Detroit Free Press and were later collected and published separately as Brother Gardner's Lime-Kiln Club (1886).  The written equivalent of a minstrel show:  A communication from Winchester, Tenn. stated that sixty-three colored residents of that town had been converted and baptised within the last three months, and yet poultry continued to disappear with the same regularity and dispatch as before the revival began. "I doan' see nuffin' strange 'bout dat case," replied Brother Gardner as he scanned the letter. "Gittin religun and bein' baptised doan' ginerally affect de appetite.  If a pusson has a taste for chickens, its gwine to to take an awful shakin' up to make him prefer salt pork or corned-beef."

The Club's name was soon generalized to describe any organization with black male members:   The play is full of merriment as well as emotion, and just about the time all would be ready to cry, Ben (Cotton), who prides himself as being a member of the Lime Kiln club would come out on the stage and immediately the whole audience would be in an uproar of laughter.  Philipsburg Mail, (Philipsburg, MT) April 25, 1889


Living Pictures:  A forward-looking transitional phrase, now - many years later - transparent for its predictive power. Ostensibly synonymous with "tableaux," a term drawn from the art world and history painting.

Kate Field thus describes the tableaux given at Chicago in the world's fair celebration of Columbus day by Buffalo Bill's Indians.These marvelous tableaux are arranged under the auspices of the Countess de Brazsi and were probably the finest living pictures ever presented. The elite of the world assembled there at the time, representing the social, military and diplomatic world, struggled for the honor of participating. This world known writer thus describes the scene:  "What delighted my soul was the appearance in two tableaux, of twelve Indians from Buffalo Bill's Wild West. Grouped first in the landing of Columbus, and secondly, as exhibits - if I may so term them - before the court of Spain, these twelve Indians were so splendid in pose, expression, and statuesque immobility as to excite a genuine furor.  If they wanted a victory over their conquerers they had it that night in Jackson Park. The white men bedecked in velvets and jewels was a physical nervous pigmy beside these bronze children of the plains whose lordly bearing and repose were worth all the paintings in the Art palace.  Here was no counterfeit presentment.  Here was nature giving art a lesson. I shall never cease to be grateful to a woman for having brought American Indians into what is called 'society' and shown their infinite superiority to their fellow actors and their audiences in grace, dignity, bearing and nerve."   The Syracuse Herald, July 26, 1908.

Located troupe:  a permanent engagement, usually in a single venue of a major meropolitan area. At the height of the popularity of minstrelsy in New York, there may have been four located troupes in the city. The last of New York's located troupes - Haverley's United Mastodon Minstrels - closed in 1884.


Lynching Bee:  Related to "shucking bee," "spelling bee," and "sewing bee" for the participants' shared sense of community, but better understood as mob violence, perpetrated with impugnity by white Americans.

There were two things that circus men dreaded in the South; a shooting or a lynching.  In a section where very considerable of the audience was made up of Negroes who are particularly susceptible to the lure of the circus, anything that would drive the Negroes out of town show day was a calamity.  On the other hand, when a lynching bee was in prospect the counter attraction was too great to resist, and the circus was the financial sufferer.  Gil Robinson, Old Wagon Show Days.  Cincinnati, KY:  Brockwell Co., 1925