Humor in Theater Wage Dispute

by Laurel | December 13th, 2011

13 December 1932

Theater Dispute Case Proves Entertaining

D. H. Brand of Brookline Goes on Stand in Suit of Holyoke Show Place

A small but highly entertained audience yesterday heard the testimony of David H. Brand of Brookline, the first witness in the case of People’s Amusement Corporation of Holyoke against the billposters’, stage employees’, and musicians’ unions of that city, to restrain alleged interference by the defendants with the business of the Holyoke theater resulting from a wage dispute.

Various defendants named in the suit had business talks with Brand, and it was his testimony of these lively conversations that caused considerable merriment during the course of the morning session of the first day of the hearing before Special Master John H. Schoonmaker, appointed by the superior court.

Brand said that he told the union’s representatives that he would pay his rates, without dictation to him. He had had 23 years of experience in show business, he said. In June stage hands’ representatives asked him what his policy was going to be and he told them that he was going to give six acts of vaudeville, screen features and shorts. He was told the union would give him four men. He said that he replied that he was going to hire six, “two to work and four to play pinochle.” This scored the first laugh of the day.

Slang expressions do not appeal to Mr. Brand. When he told the union he would hire three stage hands at $5 per week each, one of the men told him he was “not so bad.” “Who said I was bad?” was the prompt rejoinder of Mr. Brand to that compliment. The union man said he would have to report to his union. David Taylor and William Hancock said that they would give him two motion picture operators for $134.50 a week. Brand said he would pay $40 a week each, adding his experience in show business had taught him how much payment should be made.

A week later a musicians’ union representative was told Brand would pay $40 a week for men and $50 for a leader of a six-man orchestra. Later Brand was told the man had no authority to accept the offer. This delegation told him the offer would be approved with a 20-week contract, but he said there would be no contracts. He was spending $20,000 to $25,000 to renovate the theater he told them. The bill posters’ representative wanted $40 a week each and Brand offered them five cents a card. He told a representative of the stage hands that “a boy could do their work.”

From The Springfield Republican.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Suggested Holyoke Books

Mountain Park -- The Holyoke destination we all loved.

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College, Postcard History by Donna Albino. Many Holyoke women have attended Mount Holyoke. Author also maintains an amazing MHC website based upon her personal collection.

Holyoke - Chicopee, A Perspective

Holyoke-Chicopee: A Perspective, by Ella Merkel DiCarlo. DiCarlo, a former Transcript columnist offers a fascinating compilation of her essays. Published in 1982, this out-of-print book is worth looking for in the aftermarket.


Holyoke, by Craig Della Penna. The first Holyoke book in the Arcadia series, published in 1997.

Belle Skinner Collection

Belle Skinner Collection, by Ruth Isabel Skinner. Published in 1933, this book is long out of print but copies are still available in the aftermarket.

Mitch Epstein: Family Business

Mitch Epstein: Family Business Published in 2003, available in the aftermarket. Epstein's furniture.