The Keeley Banquet
The Pilot Newspaper, January 28, 1892
The formal opening of the new Institute building and the accompanying banquet, on last Thursday evening, was in point of success all, and in some respects perhaps, more, than was anticipated by its managers. Some 300 people were in attendance, mostly ex-graduates of the Institute with their ladies and a few other distinguished guest from abroad. Outside of stockholders and their families, the band, waiters and other necessary workers, Blair people were not in it to any extent. Blair newspaper men were an exception, but formal invitations sent out to some of the prominent ministers, were withdrawn before the day of the banquet.
The assembled guest, composed of fair women and bra—[illegible] as they were drawn about long lines of tables graced with flowers and an elegant repast, presented a most attractive appearance and was perhaps the most brilliant assemblage, as it was certainly the largest, ever gathered about one board in Blair. The address of welcome was delivered by Judge Jesse T. Davis in his usual happy vein and was followed by responses to appropriate sentiments, on the part of Dr. Keeley of Dwight, Dr. G. L. Miller of Omaha. Dr. B.F. Monroe of Blair and others together with several original poems read by graduates and ex-graduates. The speeches were all able, entertaining and mostly well delivered, but in the connection it may be said of Dr. Monroe that to be a successful public speaker he needs more practice. The exercises were concluded after midnight and the brilliancy of these together with the numbers of guests present justifies the conclusion that from the standpoint of the management, the fondest anticipations were realized. It was in one sense a grand affair, conducted throughout on a grand scale and should have resulted in making the Blair Keeley Institute more solid with the people of its own town. The result has in fact been precisely the reverse of this. Mutterings of adverse criticism and open censure are deep and loud. Either through lamentable mismanagement of more palpable design, the people of Blair were slapped in the face most effectually. Not alone in the general slight to prominent citizens, en masses, but in special discourtesy in specific cases. Prominent ministers, pastors of home churches, after receiving and official invitation were deliberately told not to come; the orchestra, composed of eight well-known business and professional men after playing four hours for the assembled guests, was permitted to go home without supper; table waiters and door keepers were subject to the same oversight, and people of Blair who were not invited to the banquet were offered a ticket to the gallery as compensation, if they would open their homes for the overnight entertainment of Institute guests. These are some of the unpleasant features of the great banquet and which have aroused the indignation of many Blair people. Local public sentiment has been so absorbed by these things during the past week that they could not be passed by in silence, hence the Pilot as no other paper in Blair will do, gives the facts as they are known to exist.
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