“Remembrance of Things Past”
"One of the biggest changes in sports in the last half-century is in wrestling.
Today a heavyweight wrestling match is a combination of wrestling, a fist-fight, attempted murder and a lot of show, but in the early days a wrestling match was just that, and any infraction of the rules brought down the wrath of the referee and audience alike.
Back in the teens wresting was very popular in Milton, and the town sponsored a burly giant named Charles Kaiser. He was "Milton's own." Matches were held in the old J.R. Smith building, on North Front Street, now the site of the Milton Post Office.
One night a big match was scheduled, and the opponent was a wrestler who never had been defeated. The match was widely advertised, and on the eventful night the theater was packed. Extra seats were placed on the stage and representing the press your writer had one of those seats. Later he had reason to be sorry he was up there!
As the evening progressed it was evident
Today the audience would yawn and wonder what would happen next, but not then. In a split second the loyal and outraged Miltonians were on their feet, yelling for the scalp of the visiting wrestler. Irate fans in the rear walked on the tops of the seats to get to the stage, because the aisles were packed with milling men and women. Things looked bad for the challenger, who had been hustled backstage to a dressing room.
It was in the days before safety regulations were heard of or enforced. The challenger was back there with a mob screaming for his hide, and he had no place to go because there were no rear exits from the dressing rooms.
Lucky for the unhappy wrestler Francis Arnold, L.M.& W. trolley conductor, was in the audience and on stage. Nicknamed "Benedict" and known to almost everyone as someone who meant every word he said, he assumed control of the dangerous situation. Smashing the glass in a case holding a fire hose and a fire axe, he grabbed the axe and leaped to the top step leading to the dressing rooms. Waving the axe, he yelled "I'll kill the first --- -- - ----- who comes within reach of this axe." The crowd believed he would do just that, and on one challenged him. The crisis was over.
As an indication of just how serious the situation was, all the lights in the borough were blacked out and the worried wrestler was hustled out of town."
Above - bicyclists on the Milton-West Milton bridge.
Bicycles were an important recreational activity in Milton in addition to being the number one mode of transportation in the 1890's. Many races were held at the fairground tracks. It was boasted that "no part of the state had more bicycles in proportion to its population as did Milton." There was a bicycle club called the "Milton Wheelmen" headed by Bert Galbraith, its first president. The borough council passed a very upsetting law in 1894, restricting the speed of bicycles to five miles per hour. This was not very well received by fond bicycle enthusiasts.
Below - local bicycle enthusiasts, including William Godcharles on the right.
Above - a program of events for the first annual Regatta of the Milton Canoe Club.
Below - scenes on the Susquehanna. In the far bottom photo, a group of boats are docked at Lincoln Park. In the background, the Milton-West Milton bridge and the Reading Railroad bridge can be seen.
Erected by Parks and Recreation.
Location. 41° 1.23′ N, 76° 51.348′ W. Marker is in Milton, Pennsylvania, in Northumberland County. Marker is at the intersection of N. Front Street and Broadway Street on N. Front Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Milton PA 17847, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Milton Fair (here, next to this marker); Adult Baseball, Softball, and Basketball Programs (here, next to this marker); The Turbot Hills Golf Club (here, next to this marker); Riverside Park (within shouting distance of this marker); Milton's Early Park and Recreation Programs (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to Lincoln Park (within shouting distance of this marker); Rotary Centennial Park (approx. ¼ mile away); a different marker also named Rotary Centennial Park (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Milton.
Categories. • Sports •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 24, 2015, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 140 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on August 24, 2015, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.