Timecapsule: November 3, 1910

We noticed a short notice in the local papers from, oh, 98 years back, announcing that the entire theatrical wardrobe of Kolb and Dill -- the most popular comedy team in San Francisco -- was to be sold at auction.

Clarence Kolb and Max Dill were just a couple of boyhood pals from Cleveland who'd decided to go into show biz. They honed their skills working every vaudeville and burlesque house in the midwest, until -- in the gay 1890s -- they headed out west, discovering San Francisco and an adoring public.

Ethnic stereotypes were the stock in trade of the vaudeville stage. So-called "dialect comedians" played Irish, Jews, Chinese and African-Americans in what are (to most of us) absolutely shudder-inducing ways.

Kolb and Dill were of the vaudeville flavour known as a "Double Dutch" act, performing a caricature of Germans as coarse, blustering knockabout oafs in loud checkered suits.