Monday, February 9, 2015

A Curious Tale from Hudson's Past

When it's a slow news day here in Hudson (and this snowy day certainly qualifies), Gossips often turns to the old newspapers at Fulton History to find something of interest that happened in the past. The quest never fails to yield results. Back in December 2012, for example, it led to the discovery that a hundred years earlier, in December 1912, a band of suffragists calling themselves General Jones's Army, walking from New York City to Albany to deliver a proclamation to the new governor, spent Christmas here in Hudson. 

So today, mining my favorite historic news source, I discovered, on the front page of the Columbia Republican for February 9, 1915, this article about a former Hudson mayor turned actor.

The New York World of yesterday contained a cartoon of the "Hon. Richard A. Brandon, former chief executive of Hudson," who is acting "A Man About Town" at the Eltinge Theatre in that city. Two episodes from the life of the politician-actor are given. In one Mr. Brandon appears on a platform addressing a shouting crowd who carry banners, "Vote for Brandon" and "Our Choice." In the other Mr. Brandon appears before the footlights as an actor and has a bouquet thrown to him from an admirer in the audience. The World says:
Drop around the Entinge [sic] Theatre and ask the genial guardian of that magic door how it seems to get messages for the Mayor. He'll tell you it isn't half so bad as when some titled foreigner condescends to take a barrel or so of honest American dollars and all their friends come a calling.
The reason the Eltinge in particular is mentioned is because Judge Atwell, man-about-town in the "Song of Songs" while on, is Richard A. Brandon, ex-Mayor of Hudson, N.Y., off, and once in a while some of Brandon's old political friends from the city up the river come to town and "go back" either before or after the show to see their old Mayor.
It isn't that he's a bit ashamed of his record as Mayor that keeps Mayor Brandon from boasting of it around town, but it's his idea that when a man's on the stage he ought to be judged solely by his work as an actor and not as a reformer, for instance.
Not that Mayor Brandon back in 1896 was a reform Mayor for Hudson. Not for a minute. He was just a good Mayor. Altho, it wasn't thru any wish of his that he ever was Mayor.
Hudson in those days was a rock-ribbed Republican stronghold. The Democratic party had to pay a man to run for office. Then, in 1896, the political machines became so split to pieces that it seemed as tho the political leaders just couldn't agree on a candidate.
Finally they came to Brandon. At that time he was managing two theatres in the town and the free lists at both of them were not--no, never!--suspended. Was it any wonder, then, that Manager Brandon was the most popular man in Hudson? It was--not.
At first Mr. Brandon wouldn't listen to the suggestion that he run for Mayor. Frankly, he said he had no such aspirations. And, what's more, it isn't at all likely he would have run had the committee appointed to see him not taken an unfair advantage of him.
"You won't run, eh?" they said. "Well, if you don't we won't renew the licenses for your theatres this fall."
That settled it. Rather than lose his licenses, Mr. Brandon consented to run for Mayor. 'T'isn't that he wants to boast, but facts are facts, and so long as the subject was not brought up himself, why--well, when they come to count the votes they found that Manager Brandon had been elected on the Democratic ticket by a majority--359--greater than that ever given a Republican candidate.
And he's just as good an actor as he was a Mayor, which is going some--in Hudson.
Curious about this reluctant former mayor, who was recruited in such a heavy-handed fashion, I asked Tracy Delaney, our ever helpful city clerk, to confirm when Richard A. Brandon served as mayor of Hudson. She reported that according to her records--and the portraits of the mayors on the walls of the Council Chamber--there never was a mayor named Richard A. Brandon. In 1896, George H. Tator was the mayor of Hudson. 

Hmm. This calls for further investigation.

1 comment:

  1. "You won't run, eh?" they said. "Well, if you don't we won't renew the licenses for your theatres this fall."

    Wouldn't that be an interesting approach for the mayor to take with the parking garage next to CMH to make them negotiate affordable parking for the hospitals employees ?