Mock Trials, Hypnosis Shows Were Popular Entertainments

EDITOR’S NOTE–This is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.






There are various forms and fashions of entertainment and pleasure that were once prominent and enjoyed generally, but which hare largely “gone by the board” as the years have moved along. Different times seem to call for different styles in these areas now.

Mock trials were once highly popular and attracted a great deal of interest in most communities. They are still conducted to a small extent in some areas, but not as was the case in olden days.

Findlay had its share of such “trials.” One was held in the old high school auditorium once, as we recall. There was a men’s literary club in the community known as “The Court.” It met every two weeks at the YMCA for dinner and a program presented by some of its members. Some of its members were lawyers.

Once, it was decided to present a mock trial on the stage of the senior high school auditorium and invite the public to attend, with the admission charge going to some worthy local project.

The auditorium was crowded for the event and it proved a big success all around. Some individual had to face a serious charge and lawyers did their best to find him guilty, while his own counsel exerted equal influence to acquit their client. The course of such a hearing, staged in this manner, evoked much merriment and much pleasure for the audience.

The old high school auditorium also was the scene of other entertainments that prompted a great deal of interest. In this category were the various hypnotic demonstrations conducted by Dr. Darius S. Finton, Findlay educator for many years. The auditorium was always filled to capacity for any of these events.

One of the outstanding hypnotic productions was one given by Dr. Finton around 1910. The Blue and Gold, the Findlay High School student publication, was in need of some funds to continue its existence. The editors asked Dr. Finton to help them out, with a hypnotic demonstration. Students offered themselves as subjects, and the antics through which they were put kept the house laughing most of the time.

The proceeds kept the school newspaper in business. Dr. Finton was a recognized authority on the subject of hypnosis and he was consulted widely for his counsel in this field. He had made an exhaustive study of the whole field of hypnosis during his lifetime and medics called upon him at times when his knowledge of his was wanted. He gave a number of talks on the subject of hypnosis and was often consulted by visitors to Findlay who wanted information with regard to the subject.

He was connected with the local schools for a long time, eventually becoming principal of the old Crawford elementary school, and then moving to the high school, of which he subsequently became principal. He was elected as a member of the Findlay Board of Education and served for a number of years.

Findlay High School of the era when the school’s newspaper was established just after the turn of the century was far different from the Findlay senior high school we know today. And so was the Blue and Gold of those early days different from the Blue and Gold of today.

The school newspaper’s first editor — Anson F. Hardman — died in 1967 in Cleveland. He was later to become managing editor of the old Morning Republican in Findlay and also the advertising manager of the Ohio Bell Telephone Co., with headquarters in Cleveland.

When the Blue and Gold had its origin around 1904, there were fewer than 500 students in the high school. The total was nearer 350 or 400.

Mr. Hardman, while managing editor of the old Republican, started a unique service for newspapers. He sold to many dailies over the country a monthly list of suggestions for feature stories.


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