Since the 30's were a definite part of
the depression years. Competition was keen among businesses and
businessmen. It seemed that everyone that had any sort of a business
also had a gimmick to promote it.
The neighborhood movie theater had all sorts of gimmicks. A strong
promotion was "Dish Night". On this night a dish was given
away to each adult paid admission. After attending for so many consecutive
weeks it was possible to have a set of dishes. During the showing
of the movie on "Dish Night" there were always about five
crashes. Women would put the dish on their laps, forget it was there
and during the show it would slide off.
The neighborhood movie also had bingo night and "request
night". On "Request Night" an additional picture
was shown. The picture was supposed to be an old one that many people
wanted to see again. It was usually just old. The extra picture
made three that were being shown. The show started at 7:00 PM and
you could plan on leaving the theater after midnight. Walking home
on a winter night was not too pleasant. There were also special
give-a ways and contests for the Saturday afternoon crowd of kids.
Popsicle sticks had letters printed on the stick that could not
be seen till you had eaten the popsicle (flavored ice on a stick).
When you were able to spell the word "popsicle" with the
various sticks you were entitled to a free popsicle.
A Dixie cup was a small cup of vanilla and chocolate ice cream.
The cup covers had pictures of popular movie actresses or actors
on the inside. These could be used for various games that the girls
played. The boys only used them to pitch toward a wall to see who
got closer. There was also a word or a number on the cup cover that
entitled the bearer to a free cup of ice cream.
There were cigarette makers that sponsored contest and others
that gave away a premium. There was one I liked, a cloth replica
of a foreign flag was given in a box of Melachrino cigarettes. I
did not smoke but I got the flags from a man in the neighborhood
that did. When he got a duplicate he would give it to me.
It would be interesting to do research on the cigarettes and their
give-a-ways in the 1930's. I can recall Wings, Spuds, Avons, Old
Golds and Sensations as a few that are no longer around.
There were cigarette vending machines in the 30's that dispensed
one cigarette for one penny. Pistachio nuts, Indian nuts and gum
balls also came out of a penny vending machine. Other than for the
cigarette machine, it was possible to win a small useless prize
in the other machines.
Some of the downtown theaters did a brisk business in the summer
because they were air conditioned. It did not seem to matter what
pictures were playing. Over the marquee there was a large white
flag that read, "This theater is air conditioned". A large
fan continually blew on the flag. It was visible from a good distance.
The hotter the day, the more business the theater did.
At the time we never realized to what lengths merchants were going
to get our business, it was all a part of the times.