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The Lolly Boys
       In an article recalling ushers and usherettes of
       a bygone era, I’d be slipping badly if I did not
       give the lolly boys a plug or three. We had four
       little trimmers of a Friday and Saturday night
       at The Cinema.

       Lolly boys at all theatres came in all shapes and
       sizes and ages - we even had a really old bloke
       of 40 or so at The Cinema and they all carried
       a large tray suspended around their neck by a
       leather strap.

       Before the movie started and at interval they'd
       stroll quietly around the theatre, gently calling
       "Ice,  Dixie  ice,  Columbines  and  Maxmints,
       PKs,  chewing  gum  or  chocolates."  That's
       exactly what they called out - it never deviated,
       never. Any old lolly boy will tell you I'm spot
       on! The "Ice" was a round Dixie cup full of ice
       cream which came with a flat wooden spoon
       that was in a little paper bag and guaranteed
       free from splinters.

       In the numerous city theatres, the lolly boys had  The main foyer - Hoyts The Cinema, Richmond, Vic.   Image CATHS Archive.
       the various "intervals" down to split- seconds.
       They would dash from the Regent and Plaza  other personal chit chats. On the night I speak  when  the  last  patron  had  gone  and  we  were
       to the State, and other would work the Capitol  of, I'd arrange to see a lass when I'd finished,  locking  up,  reminds  me  vividly  that  The
       to the Lyceum and somehow fit the Tivoli into  and we'd pop along to a party. Unfortunately,  Cinema  in  the  early  20s  had  been  a  roller-
       their schedule. Why, to get a hard-working job  another young lady also turned up at the same  skating rink. It actually was as large in areas as
       as a lolly boy, a young cove would have grown  time,  and  it  was  simply  one  of  those  "it's  the Glaciarium over Princes Bridge, adjacent
       his hair long if the boss said that was the way  moments like these".   to  the  Snowdon  Gardens  where  your  Arts
       he wanted it.                                                           Centre  now  resides  with  the  hideous  art(?)
                                           You need to be a smart convincing talker, but  work outside the entrance.
       The lolly boy was extremely helpful to all the  the best I could rustle up was to ask them both
       old  gents  and  their  darling  wives  who'd  sit  to join me for a coffee at my East Melbourne  Recently,  when  I  looked  at  Casino  at  the
       inside through the interval reading their Film  flat, while I played a few Guy Lombardo and  Russell Street Complex, I watched a delightful
       News, which sold in the lounge for four pence.  Alice Faye records to smooth over the situation.  young  lady  usher  show  an  elderly  couple  to
       In the city of a Saturday night the mercurial  After an hour or so, when you could cut the air  their seats, and the torch stayed on until they
       lolly boys carried 2/6 and 3/6 boxes of Hillier’s,  with a knife, I took the ladies to a rank to get  were safely seated. So, I'm the first to admit it
       MacRobertson's and Romance milk chocolates,  them  a  separate  cab,  and  that  is  when  the  is so rewarding to see courtesy has not left our
       which  some  lucky  girl  would  get  from  her  Turkey Lolly hit the fan.  movie houses, and I'm certain there will always
       sweetheart. But, then again, she may have had                           be  delightful  usherettes  around  us  as  we  get
       to  settle  for  an  OK  Peanut  Bar  or  bar  of  When  the  fight  erupted  between  the  young  older and are not as agile as a mountain goat.
       Hoadley's Milk and Nut for threepence and four  ladies,  and  the  Richmond  gendarmes
       pence. We are still in the good old days, Digger:  intervened,  I  was  the  only  one  put  in  "the  But, I can tell you two certainties you can put
       the Grand Prix and Jenny haven't arrived as yet.  bird-cage", locked up for the night and, later in  money on: you are not going to see any of those
                                           the week, fined two pounds.         bright and breezy lolly boys flitting from theatre
       Yep,  the  lolly  boy  was  an  indispensable                           to theatre and selling you plutocrats a box of
       segment  to  us  in  those  years,  make  no  error  Yes, sir, it sure was a tough job being a theatre  Romance chocolates and a Dixie ice cream for
       about  it  and,  to  all  those  still  about,  best  of  usher.        your lady friend or your darling wife. And, it is
       health to you.                                                          London to a brick you will not be seeing any
                                           Enter Television                    ushers in their jaunty jackets and natty black
       At the period of my ushering, I was only 27 and  When  the  magic  of  television  enveloped  our  trousers escorting a happy couple to their seats
       was extremely partial to conversing with young  town  in  1956,  we  all  knew  "progress"  had  in the lounge. And, when I look back and see
       ladies about the political state of our nation and  finally  reached  the  lounge  room,  and  the  my workmates at The Cinema in the 40s, they
       advanced theories of life in outer space, among  suburban picture theatre started on a toboggan  not only were neat, clean and smart, but they
                                           slide,  seeing  the  eradication  of  scores  of  carried  out  their  duties  as  ushers  displaying
                                           suburban movie houses. Within two or three  principle and fidelity to their employers and the
                                           years they had become second hand furniture  moviegoer.  They  were  perfect  examples  of
                                           stores, plant nurseries, storerooms.  courtesy, consideration and cheerfulness. ★
                                           As I pass the building that was The Cinema in
                                           Bridge  Road,  Richmond  today,  it  sells  Credits:
                                           barbecues and pie warmers. I can still visualise
                                           the  vast  amount  of  people  flocking  in  on  a  This article was written by the late Bertie Bertram c.
                                           Saturday night and when the theatre was almost  1995. It is published here with permission.
                                           packed,  the  manager  would  dash  out  with  a
                                           signboard reading "house full", and he would  Images on Page 6 are “frame grabs” from the Hoyts
                                           stand there beside it with a smug smile.  training film Guests in Our House.
                                                                               Mike Trickett collection.
                                           At interval, all the males would stand out the
                                           front of the theatre on the footpath "having a
                                           puff". The eerie emptiness of the theatre itself,

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