musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

once upon a silver screen...

(click for larger image)
Old photo albums are a passion of mine. Some of my favourites are those my mother kept during WWII. Alongside images of family and friends are newspaper clippings, most about my Dad's deployment with the Canadian Irish Regiment – interesting stuff, and something I plan to write about one of these days. The old newsprint is yellowed and brittle. Seventy-four years of handling by four generations of readers means a few of the articles are beginning to fall apart. 

A few weeks ago, I decided to remove the precious clippings from their albums one last time. I would scan each article for future readers and store the originals in archival envelopes, safe for posterity. That's when I discovered a treasure trove of movie ads, long forgotten on the backs of headline clippings. 

All the big stars of the '40s are there: Hedy Lamarr, Clark Gable, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Fred MacMurray, Jack Benny, Paulette Goddard, Wallace Beery, larger-than-life on the "big screen" (miniscule by today's standards) and some in colour! Movies were shorter in 1941, too. The price of a ticket might include newsreels or a documentary short as well as two feature films.

Smoking was allowed in most theatres, parking was free, and giveaways were popular, like this "absolutely free dinnerware" at The Pylon with your ticket to see Ginger Rogers in Kitty Foyle. Oh, the drama!

I recognize a few of the theatre names in the ads but most of the old buildings were lost to Toronto's development boom with two notable exceptions: The Kingsway in Etobicoke (1939-present), and the Fox Theatre in The Beaches (1914-present).

Fox Theatre, Toronto | Photo by Riccardo Cuppini
Creative Commons Licence: CC-BY-NC-2.0

The Fox is Canada's longest continuously operating theatre and happens to be just around the corner from my childhood home. Its old walls hold many fond memories of afternoon matinees with my best friend, Kate – shows like In Search of the Castaways and The Moonspinners. We'd pay for our tickets and stay for all three afternoon screenings, slouched in our seats, munching on popcorn and red licorice, and ardently girl-crushing on Hayley Mills. Good times.

So, dig out those old photo albums, people. You never know what you'll find. I'm off to track down a copy of The Moonspinners. Kate, you bring the popcorn!

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At 9:57 am, Blogger Fran McNabb said...

Cheryl, like you, I love going through old newspaper clippings. Unfortunately, my family lost most of ours in hurricanes, but I do have a couple that Mom had stored in safe places. What a wonderful idea to scan them for future generations. Good luck, and maybe it would be a good idea to scan the backs as well to show the movie info. What fun!

At 10:11 am, Blogger Cheryl said...

How sad, Fran, to lose all those family archives. I often wonder how we'll look back if/when technology fails. I guess we'll have to rely on the story tellers again! Thanks for stopping by.

At 4:03 pm, Blogger Sandy Cody said...

Those old clippings are a treasure indeed. I'm sure your family will be glad you saved these pieces of history for them.

At 4:29 pm, Blogger Cheryl said...

Thanks for reading, Sandy. Hopefully the albums will survive to be enjoyed by many more generations. The clippings are a bit of history but the photos are our heritage. I just wish my Mom had written names on more of the photos!

At 8:31 am, Blogger Kathye Quick said...

I used to have an archive like this but Hurricane Ffloyd wiped them out like Fran's. It is a Great Leap Forward to be able to scan them to the "cloud" these days

At 10:04 am, Blogger Cheryl said...

So sad to lose all that history. I've been watching the progress of Hurricane Joaquin this week. Scary stuff.

At 10:10 am, Blogger Joanne Guidoccio said...

Cheryl, Thanks for taking us down Memory Lane. Great nostalgia! Joanne :)

At 10:29 am, Blogger Sydell Voeller said...

I, too, love old photos and news clippings, and I do have some. Mine don't date back as far as yours, however. You're so fortunate!

At 11:33 am, Blogger Cheryl said...

Thanks for visiting, Joanne and Sydell. So glad you enjoyed the post.

At 7:40 pm, Anonymous Susan McNicoll said...

Cheryl, thanks for the memories, especially The Moonspinners. I so wanted to be Hayley Mills (I was 13). And it reminds me that it was my five-year-older brother who picked me up on his motorcycle and took me to the movie. Also love old newspaper clippings. I wrote much of my writing using them.

At 9:03 pm, Blogger Sheila Seabrook said...

How cool! I remember Haley Mills. The role I remember best is the one where she met her twin sister at summer camp (the two girls didn't know each other till then). Can't remember the name of the movie though.

My brother has archived all of the family photos which my parents just kept in a drawer. I guess I take after my mom, cause that's where all of mine are. :-)

At 10:16 pm, Blogger Cheryl said...

Susan, I'm glad I could bring back some happy memories - bit jealous about the motorcycle ride to Moonspinners! Old news clippings are like a goldmine - fresh blog (and book) topics wherever you look! Thanks for reading.

Sheila, The Parent Trap! I'd forgotten all about that one. There was a sequel, too, I think. I have to admit, I'm more like you than your brother when it comes to organizing my own photos. But once I started looking through the really old albums, I realized how special they are. I also wish I'd made more time to look at them with my Mom - she'd have had lots of stories to tell, I'm sure. (Not to mention putting names to all those faces.) Thanks for stopping by!

At 8:28 am, Anonymous Victoria M. Johnson said...

Hi Cheryl,
What a great find! Love those movie clippings and the trailer. Those certainly were the good old days when one paid one admission price and got two films, a documentary, and prizes :-)

At 10:52 am, Blogger Cheryl said...

Glad you enjoyed the nostalgia, Victoria. I agree those were the good old days. The older I get, the more things I find to miss... although, I definitely don't miss writing (and especially editing) on a typewriter.


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