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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Violet's Birthday: 1926

Violet's Birthday: 1926

Washington, D.C., circa 1926. "Mrs. Gardner Orme group," a.k.a. the Little Foxes. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

Refined Deportment!

This must have been a group of Mom's teaching their daughters "Etiquette."

These Mom's were greatly influenced by their Victorian Mother's who valued "refined deportment."

You can imagine just before the photo was shot, one Mother saying, "Now, Girls, lay your hands gracefully upon your lap."

Actually, Etiquette has become a lost art.

Recently, while having a party, a few "Twenty-Something-Girls" asked if they could help. I said, Yes, would you girls please set the table.

What a mess! They had no clue where or how to set the table. It's a whole new world now! Sadly, in some ways, not for the better.

[Another lost art: The Apostrophe. - Dave]

Strange phenomenon

Each time I come back to the photo, Violet appears smaller.

Merely waiting for the camera to depart

I am sure that the girls are as happy as any bunch of friends at a party would be. It is evident that they have been required to pose for the camera, with chairs accurately positioned for effect, and the girls told to sit "just so" - and the photographer has certainly produced an effect. Someone wanted a formal picture, and without doubt they got one.

Once the picture was taken, they would have all become just what you might expect - girls having fun at a party, full of smiles, chatter and gossip. These girls didn't need any chemical aids!

Epilogue: Violet Elder Orme

Young Violet, an only child, is seated in front of the fern; her parents, who made their home on Massachusetts Avenue, were the former Violet Elder and Washington sportsman and auto dealer Gardner Phillip Orme. He met a violent end in 1941 along with three other men when their car hit a tree in Miami; Violet died in 1966, her mother in 1977.

"Are we having fun yet?"

Violet should serve her friends Zoloft and Wellbutrin at the "party" instead of M&M's.

Sharp eyes!

The first few times I looked this picture over I didn't even notice the spider web in the upper left corner of the room.

[There is no spider web. That's a flaw in the emulsion. - Dave]

I'm wondering how much that Samovar on the buffet would bring on Antiques Road Show today. It doesn't look to be made from silver (maybe copper)

The girls, for the most part seem to suffering from a bad case of the blahs or possibly this is a wake for Poor Violet.

Snip, snip

Looks like they all get their hair styled at the same place.

I Know Why They're Not Happy

It's because they all look like angry men.

Expressions, again

Seems pretty clear to me that these are waiting-to-get-it-over-with expressions, meaning the whole photo-taking rigamarole. We're not looking at the party, we're looking at the thing that's holding up the party.

Just a bad dream

My guess is Violet is on the left, given the entire end of the table, with her eyes closed, praying that it's all just a bad dream.

Not a happy bunch

I guess the clown didn't show up.

What A Sour Bunch!

Not a very happy group. Or perhaps people didn't smile much in those days.
All sitting smugly with their 'Flapper Bob' hair styles and clothing.
They look quite wealthy...little did they know the Stock Market would crash only two years later.

Ready, Set

Squint. Nothing like a 1000 watt mogul base flood to bring out the eyelids in the crowd. Most of my 16mm home movies from the 40's/50's look like this. Even the spider in the left ceiling corner is gone. If I had that many eyes and no lids I'd take a powder too.

Thrilled to Death

It's probably just from the flash, but none of those girls look like they are in a partying mood!

Stoned foxes

A good number of Mrs. Gardiner Orme group appear to have consumed some of Alice B. Toklas' brownies.

Anyone have some Doritos?

Half of them look stoned.

Maybe it's the cake with the headstone that's like totally bumming them out man.

Which one is Violet?

Because if I were her, I don't know that I would WANT to save this picture for posterity; except for the cute girl with the open eyes on the right, this is a rather morose (and occasionally even creepy) looking group. (And sadly, poor Violet's cake has what looks like a floral tombstone on it too -- yikes!)

 
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