Saturday, December 29, 2018

Never on Sunday Before Two in the Afternoon

Lately, I've been spending time reading Common Council minutes from the end of 1918 and the beginning of 1919. My purpose in doing so is to learn the outcome of the proposal from a mysterious concrete ship building company "too closely allied with the government" to lease the Kennedy dock. My curiosity had been piqued by the account of a public hearing on the proposal which appeared in the Columbia Register on November 19, 1918. I haven't come to the end of that quest yet, but in the process I learned that on April 24, 1919, the Common Council passed the following two pieces of legislation.
It shall be lawful in the City of Hudson to exhibit motion pictures after 2 o'clock in the afternoon on the 1st day of the week.
It shall be lawful in the City of Hudson to play baseball games on the first day of the week after 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and to witness which an admission for may or may not be charged.
The first day of the week, of course, is Sunday. 

The first ordinance, regarding movies, passed with nine aldermen voting in support and only one alderman, John McLaren, who represented the Third Ward, voting against it. The discussion that preceded the vote is of interest.
Before the adoption of the ordinance Alderman McLaren said that he did not believe that the ordinance was in the interest of the laboring man, but that the whole sum and substance of the matter was commercialism on the part of the motion picture interests. He felt that Sunday was no day for such exhibition, and that the so called working man did not want them.
Alderman Dixon believed that they were very much wanted by those who were not fortunate enought [sic] to own a motor car, and he felt that they should be allowed the privilege of attending a motion picture show.
Alderman Muldowney suggested an amendment to the ordinance, inserting a provision that the prices for Sunday pictures should not be raised. The Recorder felt that the Council was without power to establish a scale of prices, and that its only province was to say whether or not motion pictures should be exhibited on Sunday.
Mr. James J. Brennan, appeared for the Playhouse management and its stakeholders, and stated that the prices would remain the same on Sunday as on week days.

The Playhouse, which seated 1,500, stood at 347 Warren Street, the current site of BackBar. It was built in 1912. The photo above shows the building in 1922. The Playhouse was destroyed by fire in February 1938.

Although Alderman McLaren voted against showing movies on Sunday, he supported playing baseball on Sunday. He felt compelled to explain why, and his explanation was duly recorded in the minutes of the Common Council.
Alderman McLaren desired to explain why he voted NO on the adoption of the motion picture ordinance, and YES on the baseball ordinance. He stated that baseball was an outdoor sport, and a game which brought people out into the open. It was not possible for the laboring man to enjoy baseball games, because he was employed during the hours of the day, and the game could not be played in the evening, whereas motion pictures might be enjoyed both during the afternoon and the evening.

It was concern for the enjoyment of the laboring man and not for preserving the sanctity of the Sabbath that motivated Alderman McLaren in his votes.

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