Enjoyed with friend
Blaustein the cooling waters
at the beach at C.I. concluding
the evening at an open air
movie at Brighton.
Papa and his friend Blaustein (who was also Papa's brother in the Zionist fraternal organization Order Sons of Zion) were among half a million visitors to Coney Island on this day. The large crowd was apparently well-behaved, though one young man was arrested for violation of the Volstead Act and another broke his neck diving into shallow water. (My grandmother, who lived nearby and would have been 15 at the time, probably heard about this incident and vowed never to so much as say the word "dive" within half a mile of water for the rest of her life.)
I like to think that the "open air movie" Papa saw was something appropriate to the surfside setting like the recently-released The Sea Hawk, a rip-snorting tale of Spanish galley adventures deemed by the New York Times to be "far and away the best sea story that has ever been brought to the screen." If first-run films weren't available to Brighton Beach exhibitors, Papa might have seen something that had hung around for a while, like The Thief of Badgad, The Ten Commandments, or Girl Shy with Harold Lloyd.
My own memories of visits to my grandmother on Brighton Beach make it hard for me to picture the screening setup (I keep thinking that someone must have just pointed a projector at a makeshift screen near the end of the boardwalk where my grandmother and her friends would congregate at night) but I'm sure it must have been in a formal outdoor amphitheater with wooden bleachers and roving concessionaires and a regular weekend movie lineup. I wonder if the memory of this night stuck with Papa: images flickering on the screen, ferris wheel turning lazily in the distance, ocean breeze blowing cool. Did he close his eyes for a moment, think to himself that everything would be okay if he could just find some way to stay right there? Did he remember the feeling years later when he moved out to Brighton to raise his family?
Here's how the parking lot at Coney Island's Dreamland looked on a crowded day (this photo was taken on July 22, 1923):