Today’s voters will hear election results from many sources almost immediately after the polls close: News organizations will have the information online as it comes in, and radio and television will be announcing the news as it happens. Facebook and the Twitterverse will be filled with speculation as soon as is conceivably possible.
This wasn’t the case in the 1920s when crowds would gather outside the local newspaper offices to await word. Few were content to await word at home so they gathered and waited. The newspapers couldn’t guarantee the timing of any announcement so they developed plans for entertaining the crowds.
Outside the St. Louis newspaper office, the audience was promised movies, including a first-run release, Mutt and Jeff in The Politicians, a Harold Lloyd comedy, a review of current events, a Charlie Chaplin comedy and—this is my favorite–a “never-before-seen-by-the-public” motion picture made by “x-ray process, showing movement of the kneecap, etc.”
Those who chose to go to other public buildings that were set up to make announcements would hear the returns announced periodically through a new “sound-multiplying machine,” the Magnavox telemegaphone. In between announcements, the sound-multiplying machine was used to amplify phonograph records.
In this day and age when we are able to get up-to-the-minute reports, we should pause for a moment to appreciate how lucky we are to have so much information at our fingertips!