There have been several articles printed in the East Providence Historical
Society Gazette in the past and it is time for me, a relative, to set the record
straight regarding the Babcocks on Riverside Square.
Arthur G. and Dorilda (Tetreault) Babcock were vaudeville actors who performed in
the Keith Orpheum vaudeville circuit. They played all over the U.S. and
eventually at the Palace Theater in New York City. A booking there meant that
you had reached the top for vaudeville performers. They were active from the
early 1920’s to the early 1930’s when moving pictures taking over audiences
forced them to retire. I got to see them on the stage at Fay’s Theater in
Providence in 1931 when I was 16 years old.
One of their last bookings was at Keith’s Theater in Portland, Maine, in 1930.
They never traveled light when they were on the road. They took their dog Babby
and 2 parrots. Dorilda Babcock, better known as “Dolly”, was my father’s niece.
Arthur Babcock was from New York City and had the typical Bronx accent. Their
stage name was “Babcock and Dolly”. Dolly was a beautiful woman and I have many
promotional photos of her in her many fantastic costumes which she made herself.
One photo that I gave to a friend was used in your first mention of her in the
Gazette story in the March 1995 issue titled “Who is she?” Promotional photos
were used to obtain bookings in theaters. The story was quite accurate, but I
have provided more information so Riverside will know a little more about them.
Their home was at the corner of Park Drive and Booth Avenue, overlooking
Bullock’s Cove in the Pinecrest, Kent’s Corner section of Riverside. They had
lived there before, during and after their vaudeville period. Arthur was also a
first-class carpenter, as you can see by the building he rebuilt on Riverside
Square for their store. They lived upstairs when the store was open, but their
home was on Park Drive. Arthur also built 6 houses on Park Drive, which are all
occupied at the present time. As a member of the Kent’s Corner Volunteer Fire
Company, he supervised many shows there that were performed with local talent. My
father, a musician, led the orchestra used for the shows.
Arthur died in 1953. Dolly lived 12 years after and died in 1965. They are both
buried in Little Neck Cemetery in Riverside. I hope this story will be the
answer to who the “Babcocks on Riverside Square” were.