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Centennial Celebration


The following is the transcript for an edited version of a documentary made for Aetna's centennial celebration in 1953:

Remember Sunday, June 21, 1953?
The girl who didn't know we were coming so she didn't bake a cake?
And the man who did bake a cake? What a cake!

The Boston Pops,
Square dancing,
Harry James, Buddy Rich, Henny Youngman.
Yes sir, that was a real party.
Even the entertainers had a wonderful time.

We sure owe a vote of thanks to our hosts and the board of directors.
It had taken a lot of labor and a lot of planning to get this far.

Inside, too, the preparations were going forward.
George Pardon, dean of America's pastry chefs, prepared a 12½-foot cake, the largest he had ever made in thirty-three years.
With deft hands he made sure the cake was perfect down to the last detail.

The trucks began to arrive bringing the tables, chairs, utensils and linens.
The Statler Hotel needed to feed 8,000 people, the largest party they had ever handled.

This scene, taken on the eve of the party, shows how the lobby near the bas relief of the founder of the company E. A. Bulkeley was filled with flowers from well-wishers.
In addition, letters and telegrams poured in congratulating our company on its centennial.

Then came the big day and first came the big trucks.
Coca-Cola - almost 20,000 bottles were consumed.
The flag was raised.
Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops drove up.
The pretty hostesses appeared, and the party was on.

Three thousand identification buttons for the men and 4,820 corsages for the ladies were given out at the gates. Everything that could be done for the comfort and convenience of the guests was done.

Then Arthur Fiedler walked toward the bandstand.
Maestro took his place, bowed to the audience, and the music began.
Wonderful, lovely music from "Aida" and "Carmen," "Moulin Rouge" and "South Pacific," classical and popular alike, played beautifully.

Then came a sudden summer storm and we moved into the big top.
Connecticut Sen. William Purtell was introduced.
I can hear him now as he told Mr. Brainard, "It is a pleasure and an outstanding privilege to convey to you on behalf of the president of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, his felicitations and his congratulations on this, the 100th birthday of the Aetna Life Insurance Company."

Mr. Brainard thanked Sen. Purtell for his message, and then to us he said this:
"I do want to thank you all, each and every one of you, for coming here today, and I am sure many things have been provided for our entertainment and pleasure. But without your presence, and without your enthusiastic cooperation, this 100th anniversary would mean but a little. Thank you very much."

Then the official cake cutting. Mr. Brainard, Senator Purtell, T.W. Goodrich, who was general chairman of the centennial party, and Barbara Gracey, and Olla Falk, presidents of the girl's and men's clubs.

Speaking of cake, remember the supper we had?
Here's the line-up for sandwiches, coffee, ice cream and cake shortly after the first call for refreshments.
And after eating, some were content to loll around the grounds for a few minutes, while others had a real, old hoe down to the music of Al Brundige and his square dance band. *singing*

Whew. That was hot work. Let's have a Coke.

Soon it was time for Harry James to appear. What a man. He attracts all these girls, and he has Betty Grable too.

Several hours of dancing, then the evening show.

And Eileen Barton, who set everyone's hands clapping to "If I knew you were comin', I'd have baked a cake, how'd you do, how'd you do, how'd you do."

Henny Youngman, whose merry quips caused shouts of laughter.

And Buddy Rich, the drummer boy who also sang.

Yes sir, it was quite a party.

One of our guests said he had such a good time he wished he could be around for our 200th anniversary celebration. Me, too.

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