Behind the Victory Flagpole – Amusement

Mom and Pop, please don’t let your children read this or they will think it grossly uncool! It involves the way kids used to play and their amusements back in the ‘30s and ‘40s. Bill Jackman, former Camden resident who lived on 44th and Queen Ave. N., tells about his pastimes as a kid.

“The old staple games we kids had were hide and seek, pom pom pullaway, star light star bright, kick the can and marbles. There was no reason to get bored. You could fly a kite, blow beans or peas through a pea shooter, or go a spinnin’ with a yo yo. Do kids today even know what a yo yo is?

There was always something to do–may not seem exciting to you but we enjoyed what we had and the things that kept us busy. Hide the thimble was one game–­hiding your mother’s sewing thimble. Then there was the game we always played at birthday parties–pin the tail on the donkey. The paper donkey was taped to a wall or pinned on something. It had no tail. Each kid was blindfolded, spun around in a circle and given a paper tail with a pin in it. Who knew where that tail ended up, but best location got a prize.

Then there was “drop the clothes pins in the bottle.” You did that kneeling on a kitchen chair and dropping it over the back of the chair into a long-necked milk bottle. Quiet time was colorin’ books and crayons, pencil and paper. No one had those little gadgets the kids of today have that you keep starin’ at and rubbing your fingers over the top to make pictures come up. And if you are walkin’, you keep bumpin’ into things and sometimes fall down.

One of the best joys we kids had was going to matinee movies every Saturday afternoon. They showed serial movies, not the kind you eat. There were many movie houses around the Northside to choose from–the Camden movie house right in downtown Camden, Alhambra on Lowry and Penn, Paradise on Broadway and Oliver, Empress and Northtown on Broadway east of Fremont–lots of good shows, some a bit scary ’cause of Frankenstein, Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc. Not any movies that were questionable–so no ratings. Only one that may have pushed the edge–Blackboard Jungle. When Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield came along, things got revealing. But shapes sold movies like today.

In the evening you went to the movies with your folks. Around the holiday season, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, the Alhambra Theatre had bank night. On the stage was a man who was a very popular newsman on the radio. His name was Cedric Adams. How many people remember him? My mom went so far as naming her canary after him.

Anyway, you get in the movie show and save your ticket stubs, then at the intermission Cedric Adams goes up on the stage with a rotating basket made of wire, and it was full of ticket stubs, the other half of which was torn from yours. He’d spin that basket round and round and have someone from the audience come up and draw out a stub. The one with a matching stub won a turkey for their holiday dinner. Then, the person that just won would draw the next ticket stub out of the basket. Think they gave away, maybe 10 turkeys each night. The rule was, only one turkey to a family. I’d imagine the local store owners or business people paid for the purchase of the turkeys.

Well, that’s how we amused ourselves back then–didn’t know any different, we enjoyed those days!”