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carole lombard 07

'Clang-clang-clang went the trolley...'

Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.23 at 01:54
Current mood: enthralledenthralled

Since "Carole & Co." was created more than 43 months ago, we've uncovered all sorts of Carole Lombard memorabilia. Today's entry examines one of the more unusual items, and it has to do with this:

These are riders boarding a streetcar in St. Louis during the 1940s (specifically, Oct. 15, 1944), and chances are many of them possessed something called the "Shopper-Theater Weekly Pass" issued by the St. Louis Public Service Co., the city's transit agency. For 75 cents, one could ride all bus and streetcar routes that week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. weekdays and throughout the day on Sunday. (In 1948, the pass price was increased to $1.)

I'm guessing downtown merchants and theater owners created the program with transit operators, as it boosted business for everyone involved. From the types of general shopping ads on the passes (no particular store was mentioned), it was a promotion geared to women -- and one guesses a few of those shown above used them.

From the movie buff's perspective, these passes are valuable memorabilia because each advertised a film coming to a downtown house (again, no particular theater was mentioned, just the movie and an accompanying photo). As it turns out, 35 of these vintage passes are being auctioned as a package at eBay, and the oldest of them is for...

..."To Be Or Not To Be," Carole's last picture (with a still from it shown at the top of this entry). This pass was for the week of March 22 to 28, 1942, slightly more than two months after Lombard's death. It also reminds riders to "select your Easter apparel now."

The collection advertises 34 different films (for some reason, there are two different cards for William Powell's "The Senator Was Indiscreet"), and here they are:

Films advertised include "The Miracle Of Morgan's Creek," "Red River," "Mrs. Miniver" and "Reap The Wild Wind"; and just in case you didn't notice, "Meet Me In St. Louis" is not in the collection. (One presumes that if those were ever issued, they were quickly hoarded.) I have no idea whether similar promotions were done in other cities, nor do I know when this campaign began and ended. (The latest pass shown here is from January 1949, for "The Snake Pit.")

Each pass measures 2.5" x 4", about the scale of the pass with Lombard's image shown earlier, and all are in normal used condition. As of this writing, one bid, for $49.99 (more than the original cost of all the passes combined), has been made, with bidding closing at 3:39 p.m. (Eastern) on Tuesday. To place a bid, or learn more, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/35-MOVIE-BUS-PASSES-1940S-JOHN-GARFIELD-CAROLE-LOMBARD-/380309185103?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588c31a24f.

As was the case in other cities, the streetcars in St. Louis were gradually converted to bus lines. Here's one shown still running in July 1958, eight years before the entire system became buses. However, streetcars are making a comeback. Last July, federal funding was approved for a seven-mile line, with construction scheduled to start later this year and the line operating before the end of 2012. It will be called the Loop Trolley, and you just know that when it starts running, somebody on board is going to sing this Judy Garland classic:

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