Though Dr. Harry Hummer often kept costs at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians down to unreasonable levels, he was not entirely indifferent to the social and recreational needs of his patients.
On February 7, 1921, he sent a letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, saying: “I have the honor to report that we have finally been successful in installing our moving picture outfit and gave the first entertainment yesterday, which afforded patients and employees quite a little pleasure.
May I have your permission to give one entertainment weekly, the cost of same not to exceed ten dollars?”
The new entertainment did not escape the notice of area newspapers. The Morning Republican in Mitchell, S.D. reported on March 19, 1921: “At the present time high class feature films are shown once each week. On Sunday nights, until a permanent employee at the institution can learn to operate the machine, a special operator from a local theatre is employed. Formerly the mild patients of the institution were taken to this city to the theatre on certain nights every month in the large auto bus of the asylum.”
Popular movies in 1921 included:
The Kid with Charlie Chaplin
The Sheik with Rudolph Valentino
and The Three Musketeers with Douglas Fairbanks.