Movie “Give-Away” Nights
During the Depression Years of the 1930’s ordinary working-class folks (no matter the color of the collar) had very little left in the budget for discretionary spending – especially for entertainment. Therefore, movie theaters had to be creative marketers. So there came into being the weekly Tuesday Give-Away Night. Sets of encyclopedia – one volume per week (first volume A-C, etc.); or sets of dishes – one item per week per ticket (one dinner plate, one soup bowl, etc.) would be the enticement. Theory being that a family would want to collect a complete set and would become repeat Tuesday-Nighters. As best as I can remember, the price of a movie ticket at the time was 25¢. So you can guess that the quality of the books or dinnerware was not that great. But no matter – it was FREE. And we all know how desirable and absolutely necessary any item becomes when it is designated free. My parents would occasionally take me to see a movie of a Sunday afternoon, if the film being shown was appropriate – eg: a Shirley Temple or a Dick Powell musical. But Tuesday night being a school night, and my age being six or seven or eight, Tuesday night was out of the question. So my mother decided to become creative herself and recruit a high-schooler, pay her way into the movie each Tuesday and thereby collect a valuable set of whatever. There were only two problems with the plan: the first being that high-schoolers are remarkably unreliable candidates for a weekly commitment; and the second being that some weeks my mother’s household budget did not allow for the expenditure of an extra 25¢ for a movie ticket. (Remember, back then 25¢ would buy a loaf of bread, a quart of milk, and still leave a couple of pennies change.) As a result of the spotty movie attendance there were lapses in the research section of my bedroom bookcase, and the everyday dishes shelf in the kitchen cabinet took on a patchwork and hodge-podge appearance. I remember noting that our friends and neighbors had similar gaps and lapses in similar places presumably for similar reasons. I’m wondering as I write this, that what with collectibles being so fashionable these days, and antiquing the flea-markets such a popular pastime, whether anyone has thought to put together a complete set of 1930’s Tuesday Night Movie Memorabilia. I’ll just bet lots of people have. We all succumb to a wave of Nostalgia now and then, and a longing for the good old days. Of the Depression…? Addendum: Although I remembered the price of a movie ticket as 25¢, my cousins, Marilyn and Charlie Benson (both of whom have far better memories than mine) recalled a price of 10¢ per ticket. Charlie even remembered that at the onset of WWII a one cent Government amusement tax was placed on each ticket – bringing the price to a whopping 11¢ (or 26¢) per ticket – placing a further strain on household budgets everywhere. Not to mention allowances. I’m beginning to think that we were all correct, and that 10¢ was probably the price for children under 12 years old. Anybody…?