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Friendship Centennial 1957


The Friendship Centennial 1957


By Harry Davis

The Friendship Centennial had the promise of success from the very beginning of the planning.  The word went out that everyone interested should come to a planning meeting and 60 people showed up.  A very capable steering committee was immediately put together.  Attorney Don Hollman and banker Fred Veeder were selected as co-chairs.  Others on the steering committee were storeowners Harold Johnson, Bill Murphy and Leonard Picus.  Planning was off to a great start.[1]


Let’s Build a Hospital


The prospect of getting a much-needed hospital in the county provided the motivation behind the enthusiastic participation in the centennial planning.  A physician, Dr. Arthur Weihe had set up practice in town and he and everyone in the community wanted to build a hospital.  Such a project would require lots of money.  With all proceeds from the Friendship Centennial to go to the Adams County Memorial Hospital Foundation, it was hoped that the

celebration would be a big fundraiser.  It did not disappoint


Enthusiasm Grows as Event Nears


The actual Centennial event was to take place over three days, Friday to Sunday July 26-28, 1957, but the activities started well before that.  Women set to work sewing old-fashioned dresses and bonnets and searching old trunks for their grandparents clothing.  The women became the “Sisters of the Swish” referring to the nineteenth century style long dresses and petticoats.  The men of the community set to growing beards and mustaches and wearing bowler hats and string ties.  The men became “Brothers of the Brush” for their facial hair.  Alternatively, for a larger fee than it took to be a Brother of the Brush, a man could get a “shavers permit” and wear a badge that featured a picture of a chicken with a razor.[2]

Ice-cream socials were held on the courthouse lawn in Friendship every Friday evening as the time drew near.  Archie Davis painted a big thermometer with an $111,000 goal at the top and the slogan “Turn on the Heat, we got a Quota to Meet!” on the side.

The week leading up to the three-day event saw even more activity taking place.  A County Wide picnic and melodrama took place the Sunday before the big weekend.  Over 2,000 people were said to have attended the picnic with barbecued beef sandwiches and picnic lunches being served all afternoon.  73-year-old Mrs. Clarence Rous was selected as “Miss Friendship 1857” at the picnic, and six-year-old Kathy Roberts was selected “Miss Friendship 1957”.  In the evening, the melodrama “Pure as the Driven Snow” was presented at A-F High School.   The cast included A.H. Loken as the hero, Elaine Moeller as the heroine, and Don Massen as the villain, along with Phyllis Onsager, Sharon Lowe, Mrs. Angelo LaValle, Ernelle Easterman, Mrs. Kent Bacon, Lorraine Moeller, Audrey Ellingson, Winn McGowan, and Angelo LaValle in supporting roles.

The Main Event


The main Friendship Centennial event officially got underway at 10:00 AM Friday, July 26, 1957 with the sound of sirens and church bells.  There were special bargains in the stores, all day entertainment on the courthouse steps, a carnival opened up on Friendship’s 2nd Street between Main and West Streets in the late afternoon, and there was street dancing and a Native American Pow-wow in the evening.

On Saturday more than 15,000 people crowded into Adams-Friendship for the biggest day of the celebration.  The morning’s parade, led by Sheriff Frank Searles on a snow white horse, contained more than 130 units and took over two hours to pass by. There were bands, drum and bugle corps, drill teams, old cars, steam engines, many horses and over 30 historical floats.[3]

The afternoon’s entertainment included the Calumet Dancers from St. Paul and Native American dancer Arthur Kingsbury.  There also was square dancing, modern dancing in the street and two Native American Pow-Wows.

Local water-skiers put on a show on Friendship Pond.   Featured in the ski show were Ernelle Easterman, Nancy Moore, Lucille Ashworth, John Ashworth, Bob Pierce, Ron Seybold, Floyd Easterman, and 10-year-old Michael Lowe. For the “Chicnics” held Saturday and Sunday, the A-F Lions Club barbequed 4,220 chicken halves, served as many meals and turned over more than $2,100 to the Centennial committee.[4]

Sunday saw special church services in the morning. In the afternoon there was a Kiddie Parade featuring 1957’s Alice in Dairyland, Doris Olson.   Also there were Maggie and Scotty stage shows, the judging of the Sisters of the Swish dresses and the Brothers of the Brush beard growing contest, a Centennial Style Show, another Pow-Wow,[5] burying of time capsules,[6]and a program emceed by Ed Thompson honoring “Mr. Friendship” Winn McGowan.[7]

Leo Walters won the beard-growing contest and was awarded an electric shaver with which he was obliged to shave off the massive curly bush.  Barber George Sawyer finished the job when Leo’s arm tired.[8]

Mrs. Reuben Lanke commentated the style show in nineteenth century costume.  Also modeling period attire were Mrs. Gerald Simon, Mrs. Lester Galbraith, Carole Ashworth, Mrs. Royal Main, Mrs. Harold Johnson, Gladys Marsh, Mrs. Dale Lanke, Marion McFarland, Mrs. Darol Lanke, Mrs. Barbara Tolley, Mrs. A.D. Fuller, Mrs. Berneece Neugert, Mrs. C.R. Eaton, JoAnn Sharapata, Mrs. Otto Lindner, Mary Solchenberger, Mrs. Ted Ashworth, Mrs. Leland Lowe, Leland Lowe, Mrs. John Tuttle, Mrs. Joe Kosobud, Mrs. George Ritchie, George Ritchie, Richard Moran and Tom Sawyer.[9]

A Centennial Ball on Sunday evening concluded the Friendship Centennial festivities.[10]


This article previously appeared in the Winter 2007 edition of the Adams County Historical Society’s newsletter, The Quatrefoil.


[1] “Name Centennial Chairmen”, Friendship Reporter, February 1957.

[2] After a week’s growth, my father’s (Elton Davis) fledgling mustache was driving him crazy.  He bought a shavers permit and shaved it off.


[3] “Over 25,000 Attend the Very Successful Friendship 3 Day Centennial Celebration”, Friendship Reporter, Thursday, August 1, 1957.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Mark 100 Years of Friendship With 3 Day Centennial Event” Friendship Reporter, Thursday July 25, 1957.

[7] “Program Held Saturday to Honor Winn McGowan, Our “Mr. Friendship”, Friendship Reporter, Thursday, August 1, 1957

[8] Picture captions Friendship Reporter, Thursday, August 1, 1957.

[9] Picture captions Friendship Reporter, Thursday, August 1, 1957

[10] “Program Held Saturday to Honor Winn McGowan, Our “Mr. Friendship”, Friendship Reporter, Thursday, August 1, 1957