One of my favorite Yalecrest “neighbors” is Charlotte Stewart, 1709 Harvard Ave. It’s really hard to write something short and concise about Miss Stewart.
Charlotte was born in Draper in 1884. Her father, Dr. William M. Stewart, was Dean of Education at the U of U. Her mother, Sarah E. Taylor, was prominent in educational work and in the Federation of Women’s Clubs. Charlotte worked as the City Recreation Director and was a leader in physical education for the City’s public schools. She had an office downtown in the City County Building.
Besides dealing with playgrounds and pools, Charlotte helped create and organize fun activities at Saltair and various City parks: dance and costume contests, track and field meets, a marble tourney, story telling festivals, snow sculpturing contests, harmonica bands… even a model airplane contest in preparation for Lindbergh’s visit. She worked on camp facilities in Big Cottonwood and Mueller Park. She combined art, music and drama at the Nibley Park Water Theater which she helped construct. From 1917-1933 she would organize 12-17 free public performances for Christmas “Cheer Week.” She participated on numerous boards and committees and represented us at State and National events.
Charlotte spoke to athletic organizations, women’s groups, service and business organizations. She was involved with the Progressive Education Association, served on the State Woman’s Committee during WWI, was on the general board of the M.I.A. and on the board of directors for the Deseret Gymnasium. [I could go on!]
Charlotte believed physical education should be compulsory in all states. She wanted to see 80% of all high school girls going out for athletics. Charlotte predicted as women got more into exercise they would see their natural beauty and not need all that rouge and lipstick. (SL Telegram 6-27-1925 “S.L. Woman Sees Cosmetics Passing”)
Charlotte was convinced the answer to juvenile delinquency was recreational opportunities. But, despite a petition by supporters, Charlotte lost her City Rec Director job to a former U of U football star who thought the emphasis needed to be more on adults because “children find their own recreation.” (SL Telegram 3-1-1934, “New Recreation Head Plans Wider Program“)
When high school boys feared they might not get an invitation to the girls’ dance at East High, one wrote to a newspaper advice columnist. The columnist suggested he take an idea and go talk to Charlotte Stewart. (SL Telegram 3-8-1934, “Challenge to ‘East ‘ Girls for ‘Dates’ Still Undelivered“)
Businessman George Mueller had donated Mueller Mountain Park to the City years ago. When he wrote to complain about the park’s neglect, the new Park Commissioner blamed Mueller’s letter on Charlotte and the Chief of Police. This led to the following news headline: “Miss Stewart Strikes Back.” (SL Telegram 9-25-1936) Charlotte is quoted saying the assertions were “asinine, puerile and an insult to intelligent citizenry.”
Charlotte even made the news when she paid her parking ticket. She had scotch-taped 5 dimes to a piece of cardboard and mailed it in just under the wire. If it had been received a few minutes later it would’ve cost her an extra $1. (SL Telegram 8-29-1939, “50-Cent Parking Violation Bond Mailed to S.L. Police“)
Charlotte was certainly loved. East High teachers and girl students threw a nice birthday bash for her. It included music, toasts and a “fashion show” of women’s gym apparel from 1850-1941! (SL Telegram 3-4-1941, “East High Group Honors Supervisor for Girls“)
— Kelly Marinan
Note: Picture of Charlotte Stewart is from the 1934 East High School yearbook.