Jacksonville. Ready for a Closeup

“The company included besides Mr. Olcott and myself, James Vincent, Kenean Buel, Minerva Florance, Tommy Santley, Ben Owens the cameraman, Max Schneider and his wife who was sometimes pressed into playing bits although she made no pretense to being an actress.

To this nucleus of a stock company we added our personal friends and acquaintances who drifted into Florida during the winter season, and the vaudeville performers appearing at the Ostrich Farm, a local amusement resort.

We detrained at Jacksonville, which in 1908 was vastly different from the bustling metropolis it is today. The main street was more like that of a country village than the artery of a town containing some sixty thousand people.

For our headquarters, Mr. Marion and Mr. Olcott had selected Fairfield, a small suburb about fifteen minutes by trolley from Jacksonville. We were housed in The Roseland, a big rambling ramshackle old hotel set in three acres of ground, on the banks of the St. John’s River, at this point a mile and a half wide. The house was run by Ma Perkins, a stout jolly widow, who was motherly, smiling, and always ready to drop down in a rocking chair on the big front veranda for a chat. The meals were plentiful and well cooked in real southern style, and the maids were also big and jolly and quite of the family. We addressed their as “Miss Fannie” and “Miss Ida.” Our company occupied at least half of the house, and there were several charming couples staying there as permanent guests. The rest of the rooms were rented transiently to the different variety acts playing at the Ostrich Farm, a block up Talleyrand Avenue. Two of these acts were engaged for the winter, Harry Six, the high diver, who worked with our company between his “two-a-day” dives, and Tiny, a balloonist who, in knee frocks and looking about ten, made a parachute drop every weekday and on Sunday a triple drop. Thomas Quincey was another high diver who was happy in the less dangerous work of the motion picture actor.”  Gene Gauntier

Film Story Tellers was created by Third Act Films, who produce video biography and commissioned documentary productions.

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