East Side History Madison’s Blog

By and for the East Side History Club, a project of the Goodman Community Center

Got photos of city summer program activities in the parks?

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on March 29, 2016

Once upon a time, summer in Madison was a fairytale setting for children. Summer programs in many city parks employed older youth to organize sports, art projects, and theatrics for the younger children. Hawthorne Park (between Division St. and Rusk St.) was one such location.  Recently Jackie (Jaclyn Gerth) Shivers shared this photo of a rehearsal for a production of “Cinderella” to take place in Hawthorne Park with the East Side History Club.

Jacquie Shivers Cinderella Elsa Splett

Jackie told us that Elsa Splett (daughter of Zion Lutheran church’s Reverend Splett) was the recreation director at the Hawthorne Park playground in the 1940s and would organize the children to “make a play” every summer. This performance of Cinderella featured Jerry Waller (left) playing the ‘Fairy Godfather’ and Jackie as the princess (right). Elsa created the set. “She was in the park five days a week in the summer,” Jackie recalled. The photo was taken next to the Splett’s house, which was adjacent to the church on Linden Avenue. Other children in that production were Paul Ives (as Prince Charming),  Blanche Genske, Judy Borquist, and Mary Jane Sachs.

Do you have photographs of activities in Madison’s East Side parks? The History Club would love to hear from you! Email Sarah at sarah.white@firstpersonprod.com.



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