Monday, May 18, 2020

Hard Times Parties

In The Shadow radio episode "Makeup for Murder" (originally aired on December 1, 1946) the show opens with Lamont and Margo having won 1st place for their costumes and makeup for a Hard Times party they hosted at a vacant saloon.

I had never heard of a Hard Times party, so I decided that I would investigate!  Here's what I have learned and conjectured based on my research.  Hard Times parties were held in the 1930s and 1940s.  They were a themed costume party where attendees would dress like they had fallen on hard times.  They would wear shabby and worn down clothes and shoes to show they had no money and no job.  Now, I'm going to guess that only the wealthy and maybe the middle class would hold such parties.

The real only clew I had to research was the reference to a Hard Times party in the radio show.  I've spent hours researching and was only able to find a few references.  Here they are:

  • The Ann Arbor District Library published a photo from October 1938 and listed it as a Hard Times Party.  You can see the photo here.
  • The Washington County Insider posted a photo of a "‘hard-times party’ from the 1940s. A group from Amity was celebrating at the West Park Ballroom."  You can see the photo here.

It's interesting that Lamont and Margo hold a Hard Times party in 1946.  To me, it would make more sense to hold a party like that in the 1930s during the Great Depression.  But in 1946 the US was coming out of World War 2 and the Great Depression, so there could still be some fun to be had in holding a Hard Time party.

I'll keep looking for more info on this subject, but I hope it helps add some interesting behind the scenes information on this particular episode of The Shadow radio!!

1 comment:

  1. Never even considered a Hard Times party as having been a real thing. Seems a bit insensitive but that comes from the view that is shaped by the 21st century. No judgement as I've always understood that our hero is a product of another time. Rewriting history is not productive. Great detective work, Agent J.