BY ELLEN SCHUMER
City Hall Historian
Copyright Ellen Schumer © 2008
In 1948, my best friend Jeannie and I decided we should have the most wonderful Halloween costumes. Of course we were trying to win first prize in a contest being held at San Francisco City Hall. We decided to be the dancing “Old Gold” cigarette package and match box, which was an ad from the Original Amateur Hour on TV.
We found boxes. Somehow at the time, personal products were shipped to Pharmacies in huge cartons. The two we found, were exactly right for us. Jeannie and I thought this was going to be such an easy task, since we had the right sized boxes. We decorated them using the old tin foil which was silver on one side and gold on the other. We also painted and used outlined the letters, colored them and cut them to paste on the boxes.
The next challenge was the footwear. We didn’t have the fancy boots that the real dancers had, so we used galoshes, which didn’t fit very well. We had to take a trip to a store on Powell Street called Lew Serbin DANCE ART which sold elaborate costumes and trimmings. There we were able to find the tassels that adorned our ill-fitting white galoshes to serve as the dancer’s boots.
Also, one of the tassels we glued on fell off in the middle of our dance, but no one saw our tears because we were inside of out “packaging”.
We felt so dismayed when Mayor Elmer Robinson, in the rotunda of San Francisco City Hall announced that the first place award was given to a “faire princess”.
Today, this costume would probably not be recognized, since Old Gold brand of cigarettes are no longer being made, the Amateur Hour is long gone from TV and the purchase of cigarettes is getting harder too.
See Related: ELLEN SCHUMER’S IMAGES OF SAN FRANCISCO
City Hall Historian
Ellen Schumer serves as San Francisco City Hall Historian and manager of the San Francisco City Hall Docent Tour Program. Ellen is a fourth generation San Franciscan with enormous energy. She also has an amazing working knowledge of San Francisco and it’s history. She remembers where shops and businesses were which have been gone for years. Ellen has an enormous background in design and retail, having owned her own garment design and interior design shops both in San Francisco. She dresses exquisitely and speaks on numerous subjects with great enthusiasm and knowledge. Email Ellen at Ellen.Schumer@sfgov.org.
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