What Broome County residents did for entertainment in 19th century – Pressconnects

by | May 23, 2022 | Entertainment

In today’s world, we seem to have moved away from what we could call traditional or old-fashioned forms of entertainment. With today’s streaming services, there is a constant flow of things to watch on television. The advances of video gaming can take the players to alternate universes, and times in history where battles and life can take you away from the humdrum of everyday life. Just ask parents who cannot get their children to stop playing and come out of their rooms.When I was teaching my history courses in the classroom, in pre-pandemic times, just before class would begin, I would look over a sea of heads looking down at their phones, with no one conversing with the student near them. The art of personal conversation seemed to be lost among the current generation. Of course, there was always the suggestion of going outside for some activities after one of your children came to you saying the well-used phrase: “There’s nothing to do.”I am sure that same phrase was heard by parents more than a century ago. While the phrase might be the same, the forms of entertainment have changed. Instead of PlayStation 5, children might have spent time with their parents in the parlor looking through a stereoscope (often called a stereopticon) at slides that mimicked three-dimensional scenes. Many of these were of international views, but the Broome County Historical Society has a collection of over 100 views of the local area dating from the late 1860’s to the early 1900’s. If you aren’t familiar the stereoscopic slides, and are over 50, think of the Viewmaster with its disk of images that you would insert and click to take a journey.Aside from that entertainment, residents of all ages could go to somewhere like the Stone Opera House on Chenango Street to take in a show or go nearby to watch a magic lantern show, or visit a nickelodeon (which is more than a song performed by Teresa Brewer). All of these were similar forms to the stereoscopic view, where the audience could sit and watch images being shown on a screen (this is pre-movies). Maybe this was their form of streaming services. However, the content was much less than what can be found on our televisions today.The costs for these services were also less than today — usually just a nickel (hence the nickelodeon). That would be worth over $1.70 …

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