First Film for SSAW

This is a quote from a “sortabiography” written by my father, Stan Watkins in 1964 (he retired from the Bell Labs in 1948), in which he mentions his future career adding sound to films in the 1920s:

In 1909 I saw my first talkie, or rather ‘singie,’ in a movie theatre at Shepherds Bush. This was one of the early ventures into the field of sound (I think it was the Edison system) and it wasn’t very good. The audience were amused by it but it made no lasting impression. It wasn’t until the advent of the electronic amplifier in the early twenties made possible better sound technique that talking pictures were commercially practicable, and we shall come to that later in the story. I do remember that this early show included a couple of songs in one of which a comic individual played an outsize brass instrument while a group of ladies sang “Come and hear him play his umpterara” and in the other a romantic couple sang “Put on your tata little girlie, da, do, do, I want you to (tiddle um tum, tiddle iddle um)” which seems to indicate that even in those days the words of pop songs weren’t always highly intellectual.

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