Going to see a man about a horse… and a movie!

By Greater Astoria Historical Society

In conjunction with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, TimesLedger Newspapers presents noteworthy events in the borough’s history

For one College Point woman, good times were just around the corner.

Mrs. Mary Nartowich, 70, won $147,300 dollars in the Irish Sweepstakes when her horse Commander III romped home in the Cambridgeshire Stakes.

As the economy improved, there was more money to spend on life’s little luxuries. In the fall of 1935, shoes were high heeled, sometimes square-toed, and often laced up or with an ankle strap. And at $2.95 a pair, you might want to get them in every color.

Journalists detected an Edwardian influence in ladies’ fashions. Hints of yesteryear were to be seen in the long gloves, neckbands, plumes of feathers and neckbands popular for evening wear. Ladies of leisure were wearing plain black dresses, with a white collar or a rhinestone clip to liven them up, in the afternoon.

The college undergraduate or “business girl” might prefer the more practical tweed skirt and cashmere pullover, but for all these women, headgear was a necessity.

Going out in public without a hat? Well, it simply wasn’t done. Whether it was a simple felt hat, a black velvet turban for the “cocktail hour,” or a fancy affair with a veil and feathers, millinery was essential for attending the card parties, church suppers, garden club meetings, dances, and theater outings that were popular with Queens residents.

Or perhaps you preferred to catch a movie at the Triboro in Astoria? October 1935 was a good month for the cinema. Residents could see Clark Gable and Loretta Young in “Call of the Wild,” Gary Cooper in “The Virginian,” Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in “Top Hat,” Frederic March and Merle Oberon in “Dark Angel,” Paul Robeson in “Sanders of the River,” and Maureen O’Sullivan in “The Bishop Misbehaves.”

Later in the month, Bette Davis was starring in the movie “Special Agent,” which promised to show you how “Uncle Sam’s T-Men mop up the Moneyed Mobsters!” The gangland movie proved to be almost too popular.

On Oct. 28, it was reported that: “Yesterday afternoon about 3 o’clock, at the RKO Keith Theatre in Flushing, where the current screen attraction is ‘Special Agent’ with George Brent and Bette Davis, a ‘special agent’ (name unknown — as its usual with special agents) mounted on a fiery steed, entered the lobby of the theatre but in view of the fact that he was mounted and had tickets for neither himself nor the horse, Richard King, the amiable doorman, refused them admission.

“It seems that the gentleman, who would not give his name, decided to spend his Sunday afternoon horseback riding, and happened on Main Street, which is a pretty busy thoroughfare on any afternoon, even in those days. The horse became frightened and unmanageable and ran away with his rider. He stopped only when halted in the lobby of the theatre when Mr. King demanded admission. Neither the horse nor the rider would purchase tickets to see the picture — and went on their way.”

That’s the way it was in October 1935.

For more information, contact the Greater Astoria Historical Society at (718) 278-0700 or visit www.astorialic.org.

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