I Dare Say – The age of innocence (10-17-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 17, 1944)


The age of innocence

By Florence Fisher Parry

Frank Sinatra didn’t get a White House reception the other night at the Paramount Theater in New York. A boy who was sitting down front in the midst of the swooning bobbysocks threw three eggs at The Voice, and all three landed.

The policeman who later rescued him from the infuriated mob of junior misses escorted him to the subway and let him go. His explanation seemed to satisfy them: “It just seemed like a good idea at the time.”

These young girls sit all day in the theaters where The Voice is appearing. They bring their lunches and dinners. They play hooky, they are completely out of hand.

One young mother complained to me the other day: “My girl nine years old has seen Double Indemnity three times.” How many times this same child has seen the horror pictures which are being shown in profusion on neighborhood double features and at our downtown theaters, she was unprepared to guess.

Now the scapegoat will be, as usual, the motion picture industry – its producers, exhibitors, all who have “furnished” this poisonous diet to our teenagers. The real offenders, the Responsibles, will, as usual, shift the blame upon the broad back of an industry which has borne more undeserved attack than any institution in our country.

Old before their time

And I say it’s time for a change. It’s time to place the blame where it belongs – upon the families and homes and parents of the children, for children whose movie habits are bad are simply children who have not been properly brought up.

They have been dragged at a preposterously early age to adult, unsuitable movies by young parents who have no other way to see the movies themselves or they have been got rid of by being sent with other children to the neighboring movie theaters, or they have been provided no other form of amusement. Children’s books, children’s entertainment, children’s games, are unknown to them. They have not been taken to circuses, Sunday School, entertainments, picnics, children’s parties; they have never seen a Punch and Judy show or a fairytale play. They have been plunged into adult amusements from the very start, until their tastes crave the aperitif of strong condiments in their entertainment, and they are spoiled forever for the kind of fun which children should have.

Yet such fun is available. It is being provided. Our department stores, our schools, many of our great institutions like the Buhl Planetarium and Carnegie Institute, are constantly offering delightful activities for children.

Next Saturday, for instance, at the Schenley Theater, begins a charming program of children’s plays, which will be given every month throughout the season by a group which calls itself The Pittsburgh Children’s Theater Society. The cost is so low: season tickets can be had for $1.50! The plays and entertainments are charming, suitable and gay!

Can’t you help?

The project began three years ago. There had been other local Children’s Theater projects, but they had been patronized largely by children already privileged. THIS was to be a children’s theater for everyone! The project still functions and will not be discouraged! Yet I know that in order to continue, it must, MUST have help: concretely, 390 new patrons who will subscribe $5 apiece.

There is no way to describe to you what this modest windfall would represent to those who have worked so desperately hard to keep aflame this charming project!

I have seldom used this space to raise funds! God knows there are hundreds of calls made upon us these urgent days, and most of them are worthy and many of them are far, far more important! But none, I think, has been quite so neglected, quite so – MISSED – as this one little plea on behalf of the children!

The war has been hard on them in countless ways! They have not known a peacetime household with peacetime conversation, peacetime nerves, peacetime leisure, peacetime recreations. They are shunted aside.

Poor little war casualties, we have forgot to keep them gay!

Here is a way, simple, cheap, charming: give them to the Children’s Theater Society for a few enchanted hours. And send your check for $5 to Mrs. Raymond H. Lester, 950 N Negley Ave., payable to The Pittsburgh Children’s Theater Society.

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