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Creating change by raising awareness of causes that ensure a better future.

June 6, 2019

Today is National Drive In Movie Day

The drive-in movie craze peaked in 1958. As twilight fell on those Summer evenings, over 5,000 outdoor screens were flickering to life in  fields from Maine to Monterey, attracting millions of movie-goers. Most of those theaters are now gone. A few remain. An even smaller number are still in operation.
Another factor behind the wild success of drive-ins was the equally successful automobile industry. During World War II, America’s auto production had been shut down. With the end of the war, Americans were eagerly looking forward to buying new cars. The first postwar year’s figures were promising: nearly 70,000 cars were sold. The next year, though, sales shot up to 2,000,000. In 1955 Americans bought nearly 8 million automobiles.

They were not cheap, but they were affordable in the new economy, and gas was less than 20 cents per gallon. Moreover, the new automobiles were luxurious by the standards of most 1930s sedans. The front seat of your car was roomier and more comfortable than most theater seats, and more private.
Six years after this article appeared, the Post took another look at the still growing popularity of drive-ins.
“By 1956, Box Office, the trade magazine that styles itself ‘the pulse of the motion-picture industry,’ reported that there were more than 5,000 of the drive-in movies in the United States and Canada. Last year, when only a dozen or so new conventional theaters were opened in the entire country, 389 new drive-ins were launched at a cost of $79,880,000 according to the Box Officesurvey.
“As the older picture houses are abandoned, few are being replaced because it costs $500 per seat [in 1956 dollars] to replace them, and only half that much to provide space for the bring-your-own-seats of the drive-in movie patrons, who, incidentally, spend as much for food and soft drinks at the concession stand as they do for entrance tickets.”

Drive-in owners developed new attractions to build their attendance numbers. They built children’s play areas with swings, slides, and pony rides. Some built miniature railroads in which children could ride. More prosperous operations offered picnic grounds, swimming pools, and even a “monkey village.”
“While the youngsters disport themselves as these elaborate plants, their parents can have a go at miniature golf courses and driving ranges or they can play shuffleboard, pitch horseshoes and dance before live bands … One chain … holds auctions before show time and invites patrons to bring in anything they want sold; another runs bingo games based on speedometer mileage, and a third has a charge-account system open to anyone with means of identification at the gate.
“Several Texas drive-ins … operate laundries as a side line. The housewife, who might otherwise be spending the evening at home with the washing machine, drops her washing at the gate as the family enters the drive-in, and picks it up freshly laundered as she leaves – for a small consideration, of course. Some drive-ins offer warmed milk for babies, and fresh diapers, if their infant patrons forget to bring along a spare pair of pants. Others maintain nurseries and playgrounds for small fry, driving ranges for bored dads, open-air dance floors for teen-agers.”
As fads go, the drive-in went, though it lasted longer than anyone expected. Attendance declined gradually, and the number of theaters slowly began disappearing from the countryside in the 1960s. The automobile culture faded as America became weary of spending to much time inside a car. As the average American spent more time behind the wheel, driving to work or to stores, the joy of the open road was surpassed by the thrill of finding a good parking spot.
Several hundred drive-ins are still in operation, though, so it’s not too late to enjoy the experience of watching the stars under the stars. In addition, several cities across the country present outdoor cinema during their summer festivals. And in Plymouth, Michigan, the vast parking lot outside the Compuware Sports Arena is turned into a drive-in with a hydraulically raised screen, a projector housed inside a truck, and the soundtrack broadcast to car radios.
Today, drive-in movies seem like the essence of American entertainment in the 1950s. However, they date back to the Great Depression. The first drive-in opened for business near Camden, New Jersey, 66 years ago this week (June 6).
Drive-ins proved popular enough to stay alive and inspire a few imitators. Over the next 16 years, hopeful businessmen built about 100 drive-ins in the United States. But outdoor movie theaters remained just another novelty trying to coax money out of the pockets of Depression America.
It was the postwar society, and its booming economy, that launched the rise of drive-in theaters — also called “ozoners” for their open-air atmosphere. Americans were at a loss to explain the explosive growth of drive-in theaters. As a Post writer observed in a 1950 article:
“Most conventional theater owners, who despise the ozoners and battle them at every turn, say the thing is a fad, that it’s going too fast, and, anyway, the places are no more than parking lots for petters. Variety, the bible of show business, calls them “passion pits with pix.” Needless to say, there are no figures on petting frequency in drive-ins, but I can offer the result of a one-man nonsnooping survey made by myself. I talked with dozens of exhibitors, and all firmly state that no more went on in the cars than in the rear seats of the conventional theaters.
“According to one drive-in manager, ‘Sure, a fellow slips his arm around his girl in the drive-ins,’ he said. ‘The same as in the regular theaters or on a park bench. No more than that. And there’s one thing you don’t get in the drive-ins that you get inside. That’s the guy on the prowl, the seat changer who molests lone women. There’s none of that in the drive-ins.’
“But what disproves the [romantic reputation] more than anything else is the type of audience that fills the drive-ins today. It is by far a familiar audience, with a probable 75 percent of the cars containing children who, incidentally, are let in free by most drive-ins if they are under twelve. This is the main reason the ozoners have been so successful — their appeal to the family group. They are the answer to parents who want to take in the movies, but can’t leave their children alone at home. No baby-sitters are needed. And the kids are no bother to anyone in the audience. There’s no vaulting of theater seats, running up and down the aisles or drowning out the dialogue by yapping.
“The ozoners have struck a rich vein of new fans. Leading the list are the moderate-income families who bring the kids to save money on baby-sitters. Furthermore, they don’t have to dress up, find a parking place, walk a few blocks to a ticket booth, and then stand in line. The drive-ins make it easy for them and for workers and farmers, who can come in their working clothes straight from the evening’s chores, and for the aged and physically handicapped. They are a boon to the hard of hearing and to invalids, many of whom never saw a movie before the drive-ins. They draw fat men who have trouble wedging themselves between the arms of theater seats, and tall men sensitive about blocking off the screen from those behind. Add the teen-agers to these people, and you have a weekly attendance of about 7,000,000, an impressive share of the country’s 60,000,000 weekly ticket buyers.”
Another factor behind the wild success of drive-ins was the equally successful automobile industry. During World War II, America’s auto production had been shut down. With the end of the war, Americans were eagerly looking forward to buying new cars. The first postwar year’s figures were promising: nearly 70,000 cars were sold. The next year, though, sales shot up to 2,000,000. In 1955 Americans bought nearly 8 million automobiles.
They were not cheap, but they were affordable in the new economy, and gas was less than 20 cents per gallon. Moreover, the new automobiles were luxurious by the standards of most 1930s sedans. The front seat of your car was roomier and more comfortable than most theater seats, and more private.
Six years after this article appeared, the Post took another look at the still growing popularity of drive-ins.
“By 1956, Box Office, the trade magazine that styles itself ‘the pulse of the motion-picture industry,’ reported that there were more than 5,000 of the drive-in movies in the United States and Canada. Last year, when only a dozen or so new conventional theaters were opened in the entire country, 389 new drive-ins were launched at a cost of $79,880,000 according to the Box Officesurvey.
“As the older picture houses are abandoned, few are being replaced because it costs $500 per seat [in 1956 dollars] to replace them, and only half that much to provide space for the bring-your-own-seats of the drive-in movie patrons, who, incidentally, spend as much for food and soft drinks at the concession stand as they do for entrance tickets.”
Drive-in owners developed new attractions to build their attendance numbers. They built children’s play areas with swings, slides, and pony rides. Some built miniature railroads in which children could ride. More prosperous operations offered picnic grounds, swimming pools, and even a “monkey village.”
“While the youngsters disport themselves as these elaborate plants, their parents can have a go at miniature golf courses and driving ranges or they can play shuffleboard, pitch horseshoes and dance before live bands … One chain … holds auctions before show time and invites patrons to bring in anything they want sold; another runs bingo games based on speedometer mileage, and a third has a charge-account system open to anyone with means of identification at the gate.
“Several Texas drive-ins … operate laundries as a side line. The housewife, who might otherwise be spending the evening at home with the washing machine, drops her washing at the gate as the family enters the drive-in, and picks it up freshly laundered as she leaves – for a small consideration, of course. Some drive-ins offer warmed milk for babies, and fresh diapers, if their infant patrons forget to bring along a spare pair of pants. Others maintain nurseries and playgrounds for small fry, driving ranges for bored dads, open-air dance floors for teen-agers.”
As fads go, the drive-in went, though it lasted longer than anyone expected. Attendance declined gradually, and the number of theaters slowly began disappearing from the countryside in the 1960s. The automobile culture faded as America became weary of spending to much time inside a car. As the average American spent more time behind the wheel, driving to work or to stores, the joy of the open road was surpassed by the thrill of finding a good parking spot.
Several hundred drive-ins are still in operation, though, so it’s not too late to enjoy the experience of watching the stars under the stars. In addition, several cities across the country present outdoor cinema during their summer festivals. And in Plymouth, Michigan, the vast parking lot outside the Compuware Sports Arena is turned into a drive-in with a hydraulically raised screen, a projector housed inside a truck, and the soundtrack broadcast to car radios.
You can find the drive-in closest to you online at driveinmovie.com and drive-ins.com.
Source:  https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2009/05/america-drive-in-movies/

May 3, 2019

The History of Mother's Day

Do you know how Mother's Day came to be? 
While the Mother’s Day that we celebrate on the second Sunday in May is a fairly recent development, the basic idea goes back to ancient mythology—to the long ago civilizations of the Greeks and Romans.
The Greeks paid annual homage to Cybele, the mother figure of their gods, and the Romans dedicated an annual spring festival to the mother of their gods.

MOTHERING SUNDAY

In 16th century England a celebration called “Mothering Sunday” was inaugurated—a Sunday set aside for visiting one’s mother. The eldest son or daughter would bring a “mothering cake,” which would be cut and shared by the entire family. Family reunions were the order of the day, with sons and daughters assuming all household duties and preparing a special dinner in honor of their mother. Sometime during the day the mother would attend special church services with her family.
 JULIA WARD HOWE
Here in America, in 1872, Julia Ward Howe, a famous poet and pacifist who fought for abolition and women’s rights, suggested that June 2 be set aside to honor mothers in the name of world peace. This happened not long after the bloody Franco-Prussian War after which Howe began to think of a global appeal to women.
The idea died a quick death. Nothing new happened in this department until 1907, when a Miss Anna M. Jarvis, of Philadelphia, took up the banner.

ANNA M. JARVIS

After her mother died in 1905, Miss Anna Jarvis wished to memorialize her life and started campaigning for a national day to honor all mothers.
Her mother, known as “Mother Jarvis,” was a young Appalachian homemaker and lifelong activist who had organized “Mother’s Work Days” to save the lives of those dying from polluted water. During the Civil War, Mother Jarvis had also organized women’s brigades, encouraging women to help without regard for which side their men had chosen.  At the time, there were many special days for men, but none for women.
On May 10, 1908, a Mother’s Day service was held at a church in Grafton, West Virginia, where Anna’s mother had taught. Thus was born the idea that the second Sunday in May be set aside to honor all mothers, dead or alive.
Anna Jarvis, bombarded public figures and various civic organizations with telegrams, letters, and in-person discussions. She addressed groups large and small. At her own expense, she wrote, printed, and distributed booklets extolling her idea.
Her efforts came to the attention of the mayor of Philadelphia, who proclaimed a local Mother’s Day. From the local level she went on to Washington, D.C. The politicians there knew a good thing when they saw it and were quick to lend verbal support.
West Virginia was the first state to officially adopt the holiday, and others followed suit. Proclamation of the day by the various states led Representative J. Thomas Heflin of Alabama and Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas to present a joint resolution to Congress that Mother’s Day be observed nation-wide. The resolution was passed by both houses.

MOTHER’S DAY TODAY

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill designating the second Sunday in May as a legal holiday to be called “Mother’s Day”—dedicated “to the best mother in the world, your mother.”
For the first few years, the day was observed as a legal holiday, but in absolute simplicity and reverence—church services were held in honor of all mothers, living and dead.
In many ways family observance much resembled that of the British version of “Mothering Sunday.”

SOURCE: 

The 1972 Old Farmer's Almanac


January 31, 2019

Digital Civil Rights

Did you know your right to freedom of speach online is defended by an organization called Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF)?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.

Even in the fledgling days of the Internet, EFF understood that protecting access to developing technology was central to advancing freedom for all. In the years that followed, EFF used our fiercely independent voice to clear the way for open source software, encryption, security research, file sharing tools, and a world of emerging technologies.

Today, EFF uses the unique expertise of leading technologists, activists, and attorneys in our efforts to defend free speech online, fight illegal surveillance, advocate for users and innovators, and support freedom-enhancing technologies.

Together, we forged a vast network of concerned members and partner organizations spanning the globe. EFF advises policymakers and educates the press and the public through comprehensive analysis, educational guides, activist workshops, and more. EFF empowers hundreds of thousands of individuals through our Action Center and has become a leading voice in online rights debates.

EFF is a donor-funded US 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that depends on your support to continue fighting for users.

For more information on EFF and how you can get involved go to their website at EFF.ORG.


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