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May 18, 2013

Sunday movies in Oneonta finally shown in 1934

(Continued)

At the Friday night hearing, 10 requests were made to have names stricken from the petition. About 100 attended, arguing for and against the election. Common Council, at its July 5 meeting then introduced a resolution calling for a special election on Tuesday, July 25.

That vote never took place, as state Supreme Court Justice Andrew J. McNaught granted a show cause order in an action instituted by city resident Lynn W. Hathaway against the city, to hold such an election. Hathaway, the plaintiff, felt that the special election would be illegal. The case was argued by both sides at McNaught’s chambers in Stamford on July 19. The next day McNaught ordered a halt to the July 25 election.

Common Council met again on Aug. 1, and based on the court’s restraint for a public vote felt that the 1932 election results still stood. The Council voted unanimously to be opposed to movies being shown on Sundays.

Apparently the mood had changed by 1934. With the end of Prohibition, sales of liquor after noon on Sundays had been permitted in Oneonta. Not only did the theater owners want to bring back the issue of Sunday movies, some residents wanted to see baseball games played on Sundays, which had also been traditionally forbidden.

J. Kenneth Yager, an Oneonta Alderman, offered an ordinance to legalize Sunday movies and baseball at a Common Council meeting on May 1. Yager argued that with the Sunday liquor sales, “clean and wholesome recreation should be made available Sunday afternoon.”

No vote on the ordinance was taken, so there could be public discussion. The Oneonta Ministerial Association was present at the next Common Council meeting on May 8 to make their protest known.

Common Council met again on Tuesday, May 15, for an historic vote.

“A compromise ordinance which will allow the showing of moving pictures and the playing of baseball in this city, for which admission may be charged, on Sundays after 2 p.m. excepting between the hours of 6:30 and 8:45 p.m. when regular church services are being held, was unanimously adopted…to take effect immediately,” it was reported on May 16.

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