Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Saturday Night Date

It’s Saturday night in old Belleville, April 29, 1925. You are a hard-working young fellow who just got paid. Your pocket is full of money, maybe as much as $10.00 if you have a really good job. You have a date with one of the cutest girls in town and you want to make a good impression on her. You pick her up at her house and help her into your Model-T roadster then head over to the malt shop where you treat her to an ice cream sundae, an extravagant expenditure that will cost you 25¢ each. While there, you convince her that it’s a great night to go to the Alpha Theater on Washington Avenue near Williams Street. A lot of your friends will be there, it’s a popular place. There is a great movie playing called “Romance and Rustlers” with none other than World Champion cowboy Yakima Canutt in the starring role.

The movie sounds pretty exciting. “Bud Kane, a young cowboy, saves his employer's daughter, Ruth Larrabee from a bolting horse. The two fall in love, and Ruth is heartbroken when Bud's hat band is found near the hideout of a gang of rustlers. Assumed to be a member of the gang, Bud is ordered off the spread by his boss. In an attempt to catch the real rustler, Bud is picked up by ranch foreman and held prisoner until the arrival of the sheriff. Ruth, meanwhile, has discovered that the foreman is actually the real gang leader. Confronted with the truth, the foreman attempts an escape, but the freed Bud catches up with him, and the crooked foreman is handed over to the sheriff. “ ... Wow, sensational !

There will also be several on-stage vaudeville acts, usually consisting of a stand-up comic, a song-and-dance routine, perhaps a dramatic performance or maybe a musician or perhaps even a hypnotist to mystify the ladies. Admission will be 10¢ each and worth it because it will please your date.

Afterwards, a quiet dinner for two at one of the local restaurants, there’s a nice one at the corner of Main and Rutgers right across from the Dutch church. A three course meal will cost you around a dollar apiece which is not so bad as it will give you some time to talk about the movie, laugh again at the comic’s jokes and re-hash the gossip you heard from the friends you met at the Alpha.

By now it is getting close to your date’s curfew hour but you figure that your speedy roadster, at a racy 25 miles per hour, will get you up to Riviera Park at the north end of town in time for a couple of dances in the ballroom, maybe a ride on the carousel and a soda before you take her home. It was an expensive night. When you add in 10¢ each for the park admission, another 10¢ each for the carousel and 30¢ for two sodas plus 10¢ a gallon for gas for your roadster, you probably spent $3.50 on the evening. But, it’s o.k. because she thinks you’re as rich as Rockefeller and she let you kiss her good-night. Hey, you can always earn another $10.00 next week.