Thursday, September 2, 2010

2 September 1940: Labor Day Movies in Athens

On this day in 1940, it was Labor Day in Athens, Georgia, and large ads appeared in the Athens Banner-Herald for movies to be watched in cool air conditioning on the last day of summer.

The Georgia Theatre, "Cooled By REFRIGERATION," offered as their "Labor Day Treat To You" the movie Sporting Blood, starring Robert Young and Maureen O'Hara. The promotional poster promised "Romance in the land of hoss-feuds!" and "Photo-finish excitement!"

The Palace Theatre, merely "AIR CONDITIONED," offered the movie My Love Came Back, starring Olivia De Havilland and Jeffrey Lynn, with Eddie Albert and Jane Wyman. The movie is called "The Freshest Thing in Years!" and included the tempting synopsis of "Malicious Gossip! Lovers Part! Things Happen!" It also promised to "Laugh Your Blues Away."

Air conditioning in public buildings, such as movie houses, was still a relatively new experience. Willis Carrier first patented his "Apparatus for Treating Air" in 1906, and created the larger machines capable of cooling large public buildings in 1922. The first air conditioning units in the south had been installed in movie theatres in Dallas and Houston, Texas by the Carrier company in 1924.

In 1940, most homes did not have air conditioning, and it was often as much of an attraction as the movie, shorts, and newsreels themselves. Both the Palace and Georgia theatre names in their ads are illustrated to appear to be covered in frost and snow.

The Georgia Theatre is currently being rebuilt, but the Palace Theatre on College Avenue was eventually razed. In its location now is the College Avenue parking deck(pdf).

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