Put-in-Bay History Lives on the Internet Archive

Put-in-Bay Harbor, Herbster Panorama

Put-in-Bay history continues to capture the hearts and minds of residents and visitors to the Bass Islands.  From collectibles to folklore to memorabilia to antiques, treasures abound in physical and virtual formats.  Our recent research connects us to the Internet Archive on the Web.  The organization describes itself this way:

Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public. Our mission is to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge.  Today our archive contains:

Put-in-Bay Daily™ found the following two items which will instruct and entertain:

Put in Bay History

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Put in Bay History

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Fat Men’s Convention Held at Put-in-Bay

“Fat Men of the West” at Put-in-Bay, 1872

“The fat men’s clubs of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were spectacular celebrations of the wealth and chubbiness of a bygone era,” writes Tanya Basu in a March 2016 National Public Radio (NPR) report.  “At once sociological curiosity and anthropological artifact, these clubs were a vestige of perhaps the last time society found corpulence to be worthy of celebration.”

Somewhat appropriately for Fat Tuesday, Steven Nemec uncovered historical records which indicate South Bass Island participated, in Basu’s words, “spectacular celebrations of the wealth and chubbiness.”

Documents shared by Nemec give a partial history:

“Many organizations held their meetings at Put-in-Bay, but none were of such gigantic proportions as the Fat Men’s Convention which assembled in 1872.  One hundred fifty-one fat men were registered, and the heaviest, John Templeton of Swanton, Ohio–413 pounds–was elected president.”

“Corpulent gentleman standing on a scale, surrounded by men of mighty girth.”

“The event gave rise to much newspaper jocularity–such as a rumor that extra foundations were being built under the dance hall, beds made up on the ground floor, a daily order of 60 bushels of clams for chowder, a warning to the fat men to distribute themselves over the island as much as possible so as not to capsize it, and to guard each other’s steps because each could not see his own feet–and so on.”

“There were several members from the islands: C. Brick, 215 pounds; S.F. Atwood, 235; George M. High, 211; and John Stone, 233, a member of the executive committee.”

“For the 1874 convention the members planned the usual events:  foot, sack, wheelbarrow, and tag races; wrestling, baseball, croquet, and pole climbing.  An island specialty was a sailboat race and a rowboat race around Gibraltar Island.”



Rare Otto Herbster Put-in-Bay Panoramic Photos Uncovered

What was old is new again.  With all the new developments in today’s technology, there are many apps that can be used with a smart phone to take panoramic images. Panoramic photography is not a new idea.  Island photographer Otto Herbster captured island landmarks and events more than 100 years ago with his panoramic camera.  The Herbster image that is the most recognizable  is that of the Hotel Victory.

It is uncommon to find an original antique print of any Herbster’s work for sale. However, memorabilia collector Steven Nemec recently acquired eleven original panoramic photographs by Herbster of the I-LYA regattas at Put-in-Bay.  The dates on the prints range from 1926 to 1946.  The details captured on these photos are incredible and provide a spectacular glimpse into history of South Bass Island. All images courtesy of Steven Nemec.

Herbster Photographs Put in Bay

Herbster Photographs Put in Bay

Herbster Photographs Put in Bay

Herbster Photographs Put in Bay

Herbster Photographs Put in Bay

Herbster Photographs Put in Bay

Herbster Photographs Put in Bay

Herbster Photographs Put in Bay

Herbster Photographs Put in Bay

Herbster Photographs Put in Bay

Herbster Photographs Put in Bay


Reminiscence Creates Interesting Glimpse of Put-in-Bay Past

Island antique collector Steve Nemec relates, “When Islanders as well as others gather and reminisce about the way Put-in-Bay used to be, The Castle Inn often comes up during discussion of favorite memories.   One of the Castle’s claim to fame was ‘the pole.’  Patrons would try to climb the pole and then pivot to touch their feet on the ceiling.   After doing so, one earned the right to carve  initials in the ceiling while hanging on the pole.”  Long-time islanders have confirmed the popularity of these antics and others.  Annie Parker remembers well the pride exhibited by successful climbers, and Jeanne Burgess related that while her mother worked at The Castle Inn, her brother would sneak downstairs and bring back french fries to share.  Good times were enjoyed by musicians and dancers, too.

The Castle InnEnjoy some of the action on this video provided by Alina Nemec:  THE CASTLE INN POLE

Castle Inn Put in Bay

Some of the individuals known to be in this photo, of a time long before the above video, are Roy Webster, Bruce Dugan, and Tim Reinhart.