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Saturday Matinee: 1925

1925. Sidney Lust's Leader Theater at 507 Ninth Street NW in Washington, D.C. Now playing: "The Air Mail," starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and an "Our Gang" short. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size | Even bigger.

1925. Sidney Lust's Leader Theater at 507 Ninth Street NW in Washington, D.C. Now playing: "The Air Mail," starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and an "Our Gang" short. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size | Even bigger.


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The Air Mail

Here's a photo from my collection of THE AIR MAIL with Mary Brian and Warner Baxter.

Carry's Carrie

The Washington Post, May 14, 1925

Coming Attractions at Local Theaters

The Leader Theater

Saturday and Sunday will be special days at the Leader theater. The feature will be "The Air Mail," with Warner Baxter, Mary Brian, Douglas Fairbanks, jr. and Billie Dove.

Added attractions are the latest "Our Gang" comedy, "The Buccaneers," and starting the brand-new serial in fifteen chapters, "Riders of the Plains." Through the courtesy of the Carry Ice Cream Company, each child will be given a free novelty ice cream, something new ... get yours.

Its weird (and a bit exciting in that geeky way) how multiple Shorpy photos are getting cross-connected. May 14, 1925 was a Thursday so that suggests this photo was taken May 16, 1925.

Given the plethora of "Carrie" signs with snow-capped lettering, the free ice cream treat was evidently called a Carrie. Indeed, the following week, Carry Ice Cream Company took out a full page ad in the Washington Post to introduce their new product and didn't hold back on its merits:

Newest addition to Washington brings joy, pleasure, happiness, delights -- satisfies thirst, defeats the heat, tickles the taste, is easy to carry -- and costs only 5 cents

Carrie is something like an all-day sucker -- only different! It might last as long -- but, in taste there's no resemblance. It's orange ice -- frozen on a stick! For quenching thirst it "takes the cake." For making the hottest day seem like a vacation with the Eskimos, it has no equal.

Dressing Up

I'm certainly no history buff, but aside from wanting to look their best, isn't their well-dressed habits due to the fact that clothing was made of mostly natural materials, and not the synthetic stuff that's easy/cheap to produce these days?

So clothing might have been more expensive, and seen more as a luxury than we consider it today (unless you're into labels).

Not only that, shorts and flip-flops had yet to be invented, I think.

Just my 2 cents for this fantastic blog!


Yep, I'm an idiot.

Maybe Sunday?

Sorry, I forgot you all can't read my mind. (*grin*) I was guessing that it might be Sunday, because the "Free Carrie" advertisement at far right says "Saturday - Sunday - To-Day." I was thinking that a further explanation for the fancy dress may be that they're all dressed in their Sunday best. I reckon it's a 50/50 chance, anyway.

[There's a reason the titles of these posts are what they are. - Dave]

Dressing Up

I've noticed that people used to dress in a more formal manner when going out and about than they do now. If you look at photos of people at otherwise "casual" events (fairs, picnics, ball games, etc.) from as late as the late 1950's/early 1960's, you'll see the majority are in dresses, suits, ties, etc. Even at places like the beach, in the earlier part of the 20th century, it was customary to put on one's "summer Sunday best" just to take a stroll on the boardwalk. So, between the fact that it's Sunday, and that "nice little boys and girls" didn't go out in public looking like bums in 1925, I think that explains the snappy dress.

In particular in this photo, those two boys in the front row at far right make me smile every time I see them. Obviously, the taller one is the class clown type, but the smaller one seems to be a very good sport. I'd be willing to bet that if the taller one didn't get killed in a war, that he went on to college, joined a fraternity, and became a successful local politician. Or a used car salesman. And was quite successful at either one.

[Sunday? - Dave]

Knickers and long pants

You will notice that the male kids all are wearing knickers. On the right of the photo is a teen who has long pants. I can recall my grandfather (born 1901) talking about his excitement at getting his first pair of long pants some time around 12 or 13. Clearly the fashion was established so that the loose "plus-four" knickers could be adjusted as the kid grew.

I am not sure about the more formal dress either, but I would hazard a guess that a trip downtown on a Saturday in Washington would warrant dressing up.


I'm almost sure that the promotion here had nothing to do with the Carrie strip, which wouldn't have appealed to a crowd of youngsters. I'm with the frozen confection camp on this one.

But you don't know how happy I am when a site I read every day, like Shorpy, links to my site, Barnacle Press!

Why so dressed up?

I know people used to dress more formally than is now the norm, but this feels unusual to me. Was there any special reason these kids are so dressed up?

A modern viewer must miss a lot -- I'm sure some of these suits were more expensive than others, some were new and others would have been obvious hand-me-downs to a contemporary viewer. Some were probably made by hand and others were off the rack. To us, most of them look pretty much the same.

Double Feature

In the 1940s & 50s, neighborhood theaters, in NYC, showed double features. They started at around noon, the last show went on about 9pm. A show would consist of a major studio release with the big name stars and a "B" movie. The B movie could be a western, a mystery or a lightweight comedy and more than likely would be in black and white. Add to that, the coming attractions, a newsreel and or a short subject or a cartoon. You had a program that ran about 4 hours. These were not shown as matinees or evening performances, but ran continuously from the theater's opening to closing times. Before TV came into most homes, people went to these shows at least once a week.

Nice afternoon!

How long would you be at the theater for one of the matinées? A short, a serial, a movie, a cartoon... sounds like you'd be out of Mom's way for a couple of hours at least.

Great faces

I love looking at the faces of the kids in the "even larger" view. Where are they now? the younger ones would be about my dad's age, 90-something, and still around.

It looks like the free "Carrie" was a ploy to get the kids to watch the first installment of the new serial, get hooked and come back in succeeding weeks to see the new chapters.

Also notice that the "Jr." after "Douglas Fairbanks" is in very small type. His father was of course the famous actor of the time, but Jr. was a newcomer.

The other movies

There are a couple of other films playing at this theater. First off there's "The Thundering Herd" starring Jack Holt, who had made a very successful career out of movie versions of Zane Grey novels. That's at the far left of the photo.

On the side of the box office is a small poster for "The Buccaneers" which is a 1924 "Our Gang Comedy" featuring Joe Cobb, Allan "Farina" Hoskins (who was paid $350 a week which was more than any of the other kids in the group) and Ernest "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison (who is generally accepted as being the first Black kids star).

Finally there's the serial, "Riders of the Plains" starring Marilyn Mills and Jack Perrin plus, in an apparently minor role, some guy named Boris Karloff. Apparently you got the "Carrie" for seeing the serial (and judging by what I've read about Jack Perrin's movies, it was a necessary bribe).

Carrie Concessions

Carrie Concessions Inc. still exists, based in Miami. They specialize in ice cream and frozen treats supplied to concession stands, for example at movie theaters and ballparks. I believe one of the signs in the photo under the Little Rascals signs says "Carrie Ice Cream".

[They say "Carrie Free Today." There wouldn't have been any national franchises based in Miami in 1925. - Dave]

Carrie the Comic Strip?

Running a convoluted search on Carrie I did find a 1925 comic strip called "Carrie" by Wood Cowan. The date is right. Perhaps these strips were printed & handed out to the kids or projected on the screen. I've never heard of this being done in movie theatres. This comic strip about a self absorbed flapper has a vaguely salacious edge & doesn't seem quite appropriate for this crowd however. Maybe.

Some things never change...

Get a group of kids together for a photograph and you'll always get the few that "ham it up" for the camera!


Betty Compson starred in the 1925 romantic silent film "Carrie." Her photo shows her to be rather attractive. Evidently she made the switch to talkies quite easily. Since it was being shown for 'free' it sounds as if it wasn't quite pulling in the crowds.

[?? The filmography you linked to shows Betty playing a character named Carrie in the 1928 film "The Barker." I think the earlier commenter was on the right track in speculating that "The new Carrie" might be a candy bar. Or maybe something frozen, since there are little snowcaps on the letters. - Dave]

The Lost Reels

According to IMDB, only four of eight reels of "The Air Mail" still exist, at the Library of Congress.

And what is "Carrie," some kind of candy bar?

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