A Theatrical Delivery

Jul 14, 2012

RAY:  This is the final puzzler of this season! This is from my underground railroad series and it was sent in by Joe Scott.
Like lots of other cities, Chicago has a subway system that consists of a maze of tunnels linking various parts of the city. But beneath the streets of downtown Chicago, there's another system of tunnels. And this tunnel system was excavated between 1899-1910 by the Illinois Telephone and Telegraph Company. The purpose of these tunnels was to provide space for telephone lines of course.  
There was also an electric freight-carrying railroad with a narrow gage 2-foot wide track.  And this small four-wheel-drive electric locomotive hauled diminutive little freight cars between stores, offices, factories and delivered packages, mail, food, coal and even people… small people.
Well during the early years after it's completion around 1911-1913, the telephone companies that owned the tunnels began selling something to movie theatres. What were these theatres buying?
And here's a hint. It wasn't popcorn. And it wasn't telephone service or film canisters. But it was something interesting. What was it?

RAY:  Here's the answer. Now if you've ever been in a tunnel or a cave, what’s the first thing you notice?
TOM: It’s dark.
RAY: There you go. They were selling darkness to movie theaters. No. They weren’t selling darkness. What they were selling was cool air. This was before air conditioning. But these guys figured out, we can pump cool air into the movie theaters and refrigerate these people. And the customers were frozen right in their seats. Anyway, do we have a winner?
TOM: Yes we do! The winner is Steve Weiss from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Congratulations, Steve!

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