From Oxcart to Airplane

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From Oxcart to Airplane (also called the Elyton Pageant of Progress or From Mud-Covered Oxcart to Gilded Airplane) was a massive pageant staged at Legion Field on June 5, 1936 to celebrate the 124th anniversary of the founding of Elyton and the growth of Birmingham, the "Magic City", from that foundation.

The pageant was sponsored by the Elyton Civic Club along with the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and the Birmingham Department of Parks and Recreation with support from the Federal Works Progress Administration. The script was written by Olive Patton Zeigler.

Forty-eight towns across Alabama were invited to send their "fairest daughters" as participants in the pageant, and to be hosted as "queens" in Birmingham. They joined a cast of as many as 1,000 on stage portraying lively scenes accompanies by music, including "sprites, elves, fairies" of ancient prehistory, Native American tribes, pioneer settlers, soldiers of three wars (The Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I), riders of the Ku Klux Klan, the rise of industry, and contemporary dance numbers. Specific historical events were also dramatically re-enacted.

The pageant committee was made up of A. W. Mangrum of the Elyton Civic Club, park superintendent R. S. Marshall, L. E. Marshall of the chamber of commerce and Agnes Coughlin, general supervisor. Mildred Weldon, director of dramatics for the Parks Department, directed the pageant while Ruth Mims directed the dance sequences. Kenneth Adams served as technical director; Fred Wiegand was music director; and Juanita Roe headed the costume department. Rehearsals were held at the Elyton Masonic Building.

F. G. Swaim was business manager for the production. Alberta Campis and Carolyn Colbert handled correspondence and publicity. F. E. Butler managed finances, and Fred Melof took care of transportation.

Scenes

  • The green corn dance of the prehistoric mound builders
  • General Andrew Jackson's campaign of the Creek Indian War
  • The baptism of Moses Fields, the "first white child" born in the area
  • "First School House"
  • "Incorporation of Elyton"
  • "Delivery of Mail-Injured Mail Rider"
  • "First Dancing School in Elyton"
  • "Barbecue Under the Shade of the Trees"
  • "Ball of the Confederacy-Boys in Gray from Elyton" (with Boy Scouts)
  • "Ku Klux Klan"
  • "The Election-City of Birmingham" (dramatizing the 1873 Jefferson County seat referendum)
  • "The Cholera Epidemic"
  • "The Calico Ball"
  • Spanish-American Soldiers-Sinking of the Merrimac" (with American Legion members)
  • "The Magic City"
  • "World War-Battle" (with veterans of World War I)
  • "Depression of 1929"
  • "Recovery Ballet"

References