Cedar Lake has always attracted creative, “artistic” people who appreciate the energy of community, and the beauty of nature. Since the early days, the lake has been a haven for talented New Yorkers and metro area residents to come and summer.
During 1909-1911, Broadway producer/ actor Wright Lorimer, resided briefly and built a small outdoor amphitheater on the western hillside for impromptu performances. Read the history link to “Meyer’s Lane” to learn more about this family estate on Cedar Lake West.
In the 1920’s silent screen actress, Sarah Frances Landau (known as “Mrs. Landau”, wife of actor David Landau) resided in Cedar Lake. As quoted from Jim Prior’s 1988 book Story of Cedar Lake: old time resident, Randy (Armstrong) remembers that “a great actress, Sarah Frances Landau, lived up Cedar Lake West where the Jack Swift family is now at 138 Cedar Lake West. She and her husband David Landau, who often played opposite Mae West in those films of the 1920s, would pick up the Armstrong twins on the Cedar Lake Road and give them a ride in their touring car. She was a lovely lady and I recall she played in those serials, much like Pearl White in the Perils of Pauline,” he says. In those days, the film capital of the United States was Fort Lee. The vagaries of weather drove the film industry to the stable climate of Hollywood, Calif. Armstrong recalls inviting her in later years to a dinner party in New York and “she entered the room like a grande dame like you would imagine an old film star would,” he says. She sold the house to the Eckstroms in 1921 and Swifts bought it in 1970.
Later in 1954, jazz pianist, John Guarnieri (who later performed with Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw) sang in our club’s summer production of Flight To Rio.
Remembers Bev & Skip Eggert: “During the 40s a major Club activity was the show rehearsals which almost every youngster at the lake was involved in and we recall such names as Ray Lyon, Bill Nix, Bill Herman, Charlie Wilkins and Doris Hoph who were the directors of many of the early shows. One of the show high spots was the original record pantomime performed by John Grove, John Bell, Jack Simmons, Charlie Stelter, Jim Ellis and myself. Many should remember Bell Bottom Trousers, I Cry for You, and The Three Caballeros which were probably forerunners in the art of record pantomime. In later years, I got Danny Kaye down pretty well with Gil Chankalian doing Jolson. Gil and I got together and did a whole series from Crosby, Jolson, Hope, Brewer and Cornell. Later we brought the Daly girls into the ‘Shaboom’ chorus and admired Janis Helmer’s efforts with Jolson. What was our summer vacation without show practices? It seems as though come the second week in July this was the routine.”
Two or three nights a week were spent rehearsing the song numbers and skits for Strolling Through the Park, Oceanannigans, or a minstrel. I remember my dad well as the sick sailor in “Oceanannigans” and he and Harry Much, Chris Glaser, John Leonard and Russ Boyd in various hobo acts. There was always lots of grumbling behind the director’s back but we didn’t see too many kids quit because we all really had a good time. Arlene Daly probably wished she had when the pin holding her red polka dot bloomers came undone. We were all out of step that night. Bev remembers the Apache dance done by Loren Picking and Barbara Decher was the limit in those days. The boys ballet in work shoes and ruffles, which if we can recall right, was done by Don Munday and Loren Picking. And no show really was complete without Uncle Louie Polny with his ballet dance or Alice Kasten’s hula. Zona Hall, Marian Loveridge, Maisie Munday, Flori Christensen, Ann Eggert and Edith Sturba were some of the lake songbirds as we recall. Many also performed at the Hymn Sings.
In August 1949, Doris Hopf directed an anniversary revue, marking the 10th anniversary of the formation of the Community Club. Edythe Sturba and John Kay were choreographers. The cast included such notables asFrank Kleopfer, Ann Eggert, Skip Eggert, Lois Koester, Norman Lane, Jack Leonard, Loren Picking, the Daly girls, and Bev Picking (Eggert). The special attraction was a number entitled “Small Fry,” with such child stars performing as Lois and Dale Kennedy, Joanne Marten, Ronnie Leonard and Harold Hopf.
The annual show of 1950 was entitled “Scrambled Eggs and Ham,” and was produced and directed by John Kay and Harry Hoyle.