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[i]So I Was Watching This Movie The Other Day...[/i]


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I've been thinking about creating this thread for awhile. I hope it can become an ongoing discussion and resource.

 

*So I Was Watching This Movie The Other Day...*

 

Like many, I've watched an "old" movie and at some point in the film, a reference was made to a person or some sort of custom, situation or behavior that I didn't "get". On the lucky occasions, I "got it" but knew that others younger than me probably wouldn't.

 

I laughed when James Cagney refers to two men with beards as the Smith Brothers. But I haven't seen Smith Brothers Cough Drops in the drugstore in ages. Are they still available? And will future generations ever get the joke?

 

In *Sullivan's Travels* the young boy that picks up Sullivan while is hitchhiking is "practicing to be a whippet tanker". I had to look that one up. (Whippet tanks were used in WWI. They were small armored vehicles that were highly agile and could zip around a battlefield at great speed.)

 

But then there are other types of actions or references that aren't so easily answered. Maybe persons here can shed some light on these "questions". Like this one...I've seen multiple movies that include this "behavior" that I don't understand.

 

*"Why do people crack open a bedroom window at night?"*

 

In *The Farmer's Daughter*, Joseph Cotten scurries around the bedroom the next morning to shut the window that was open overnight. And many a Mother tucks in her children at bedtime and cracks open a window before turning out the light. But Why?

 

Is this a left over behavior from a time when there was gaslight and it was a "safety measure" against a build up of gas overnight from a faulty gas jet? Or was it still necessary when people had gas heating in their homes? Or did people think it was "healthy" to have fresh air in the bedroom? And do people still crack open windows in bedrooms overnight? I ask because it never happened in my house growing up.

 

If anyone has an idea, please share.

 

And if anyone has a question about a reference in an old film that has confused them, go ahead and add it here. Hopefully we can create a dictionary of cultural literacy - the film edition that will be valuable to others that come after us.

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That's an excellent question. I've seen that in a lot of movies and television.

 

In one of the Sherlock Holmes pictures, there's a bunch of men in a board meeting. A man feeling the draft from the open winidow behind him gets up and shuts it. Two seconds later a man comes in, announces that "it's stuffy in here" and throws the window wide open.

 

You may be right in that it has something to do with a faulty gas jet leftover from the olden days. It cracks me up though when they do it in the dead of winter.

 

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....crack open a bedroom window...

 

When we were little, my Dad used to insist we sleep with the window open about 2 or 3 inches during the winter to let in fresh air because it was" healthier " to sleep with the window open a bit. I do not recall ever feeling too cold. Of course this was at a time when Gas Bills were a lot lower then the are now.

 

I think in this day and age the Gas Bills would be too high to sleep with a window cracked open and as well, it just seems our winters now seem soo much colder then they were when we were little.

 

Anyway, that's were the term "crack open a bedroom window" came from....

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In the old days we had open flames for heaters and fireplaces: burning coal, wood, or gas, and I used to hear as a kid that these open flames used up the oxygen in the room, and it was good to let in a little fresh air, even in winter.

 

And also, in spring, summer, and fall, we had no central air conditioners or window units, so we left the windows open on hot nights.

 

I lived in an old Victorian house about 20 years ago, and I leaned why windows in such houses were so tall, and they opened at both the top and bottom. With the top open a little and the bottom open a little, the heat up at the top of the high ceilings would go out the top open window, pulling cooler air in through the bottom open window, creating an air flow with no fan required.

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*"It cracks me up though when they do it in the dead of winter."* - Janet0312

 

I know! It is funny as all get out. Everyone seems to hate having the window open in the morning so why do they do it the night before? There has to be a "purpose" behind it.

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*"my Dad used to insist we sleep with the window open about 2 or 3 inches during the winter to let in fresh air because it was" healthier " to sleep with the window open a bit."* - twinkeee

 

So there's one vote for the pallative effects. Thanks twinkeee.

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I was one of those kids. My Mom insisted that the window be open eveynight about 2 - 3 inches. I asked her why because none of my friends had to have their windows open even in winter. She said it was healthier to have fresh air. And she would be glad to put another quilt on my bed if I got cold. Our house was heated by hot water that was in copper tubes in the ceiling/floor and the house was new. So I doubt a gas leak would be an issue.

 

As a kid it was just one of those things you accepted and moved on.

 

 

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Crack open a bedroom window - my two cents: I believe a lot of

people need fresh air for sleeping and , well, always. Some Just need

the air they're in to be circulating. Throw me into the latter category.

Even today, driving around with all the windows rolled up as a cold

front was moving through, I had the A/C blowing to remove stagnant

air. In older vehicles an open window, even in freezing temps, was

required to remove exhaust and fuel vapors. The same goes for older

homes, as Fred mentioned.
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*"In the old days we had open flames for heaters and fireplaces: burning coal, wood, or gas, and I used to hear as a kid that these open flames used up the oxygen in the room..."*

 

So there's a vote for safety precaution. Thanks Fred.

 

And I've got tall windows that open at the top and bottom too. I like them. I wish I had a transom too.

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Thanks, I knew what it meant, but I wondered about the derivation. I did google further, one option is that maybe it was invented to substitute for "hell," or something like that. I guess we just never used it in my part of the 'hood.

 

 

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>Fred said:I lived in an old Victorian house about 20 years ago, and I learned why windows in such houses were so tall, and they opened at both the top and bottom.

 

Ahh thanks Fred, that's a great idea! I'll try that next time I'm painting and need ventilation!

 

I always liked the phrase heard in movies, "Take a powder" and found out from other films that aspirin was originally given in powder form. Yes, these little tablets & caplets are a NEW convenient invention. Guess "take a powder" meant "medicate yourself & relax".

 

"Scram" of course is a shortened version of "why not make like an egg & scramble?".

 

MrTiki was offended when I'd call him a "Cop" he thought it was derogatory until I explained it was abbreviated "constable on patrol". See? We're not the first generation to shorten names by initials.

 

And TikiKid is getting a very good education on the English language, jargon, slang and history, ALL from watching old movies!

 

I love those old phrases.

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> MrTiki was offended when I'd call him a "Cop" he thought it was derogatory until I explained it was abbreviated "constable on patrol". See? We're not the first generation to shorten names by initials.

I've read policemen's badges used to be made of copper - ergo, COP.

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It may have been a safety issue, or just for fresh air. Also in the eras before gas and electric furnaces, when they used coal. It would run until the coal burned up so you couldnt shut it off! (My mother told me this) So it could've been done to prevent the room from getting too hot...........I wouldnt have liked that aspect. You're either freezing or sweating your azz off!

 

 

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Not true, we had a gas furnace with a thermostat and still slept with the window open a bit because my Father insisted the fresh air was healthy. He was an Architect and knew what he spoke of. He always instited that most homes where 'Too Air Tight ' and not healthy, that is why we now have CO Detectors in all homes!

 

Anyway, I was never too cold but I am sure the Gas Bills must have been high.

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I was talking about when furnaces still used coal. I dont think they could be turned off till the coal all burned. My grandmother's house started out using coal (with a chute window) and was converted to gas later like many others. It still had the chute in the basement window after. You still see older houses with that metal cover..)

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