Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanks or Franks?

November the 26th, 1940 was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The war in Europe had intensified with the near destruction bombing of Coventry, England by the Nazis a week before. Here in Brattleboro, folks were getting ready for the holiday - well, the one as celebrated in Vermont, anyway. See, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had declared Thanksgiving be held a week early on the 3rd Thursday of the month. The idea originated with merchants who were hoping the extra shopping days would be a boon to their businesses at a time when the country was finally emerging from the great depression. Republican Vermont decided that setting the holiday was the state's right, and declared it to be the traditional 4th Thursday of the month. As the kids might have said, it was Thanks, not Frank's.

At the very end of October 1940, a new venue opened in Los Angeles called the Palladium. On opening night, 10,000 people showed up to dance to Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra, with vocalists Connie Haines, some new kid named Frank Sinatra, and the Pied Pipers. Dorsey and company were still there on November the 26th when the sustaining remote featured in this week's show was broadcast. (A 'sustaining remote' was unsponsored, and usually late at night. Of course, it didn't hurt that the show was broadcast on NBC whose parent company RCA also owned the record company which released Dorsey's recordings.)

That Tuesday night here in Brattleboro, it snowed (over 6 inches deep) which made it a little difficult for those going over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house for Thanksgiving dinner. The paper had contained a couple of suggestions for those dealing with the season... as well as ads for holiday shopping.


There were quite a few ads for Thanksgiving dinners out. The minimum wage set by President Roosevelt's two year old  Labor law was 30 cents an hour, with the average work week being close to 50 hours - although attempts were being made to restrict work hours to 40 per week at regular pay and an extra four hours at time and a half.

The Latchis was one of three movie theatres in Brattleboro, but that Tuesday it had the best movies in town. Well, the Auditorium did have - for one day only - The Grapes of Wrath on Tuesday. It usually showed westerns and serial chapters on the weekends. The other theatre, the Paramount, usually had the best pictures, but the Latchis had the good ones that week. (Including West Brattleboro, the 1940 census showed the population at almost 11,000. Today it is 12,000.
We're down to one movie house - the Lacthis, whose main auditorium is still intact; three newer, smaller auditoriums have been added in the old ballroom. the old crying room, and one of the attached storefronts.)

The auditorium of the Latchis Hotel and Theatre as it exists today.


With one of those Philco's you could have easily heard that broadcast with Tommy Dorsey, even though it was broadcast from New York City on WJZ - 770 kilohertz on the AM dial, the NBC Blue network. (NBC had two networks, the Blue and the Red. The government told NBC they could only have one - so the Blue was spun off into its own network - which became ABC.) You too can listen to that Tommy Dorsey broadcast by the way. It's included in this week's radio show. 

Until I get a permanent home for my radio shows, these programs are only available for three weeks at a time. More clippings from the local newspaper can be found Monday thru Friday on the show's Facebook page. You can see those posts (click on one of the photos in each post to page through and see everything) even without having a Facebook account by clicking this link: Recycled Radio's Facebook page. I hope anyone kind enough to listen enjoys the show.