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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • GEORGE WASHINGTON CROSSING THE PIES

The Young Moderns: 1952

The Young Moderns: 1952

Alfresco dining on the patio circa 1952 in this unlabeled Kodachrome. Do I hear Brubeck on the hi-fi? Third in the "Linda" series of 35mm slides. View full size.

Patio space, sunken rec room and trees down the hill

My guess is that it isn't rooftop space but a small patio against the back of the house in a small suburban backyard. The edge of the cement/concrete "floor" beyond the wine bottles has a few sprigs of grass and a sandy space between the concrete and the top of a retaining wall. On the retaining wall is a railing; but there is a break in the railing between Dad and The Daughter in Blue. Perhaps a walk-through to the yard or steps down to the yard? There's another sandy space in the yard beyond the railing then there seems to be a break off to a darker area. My guess is there's an embankment or depression or wooded hillside where the trees are rooted below the level of the patio. That might explain why they give the appearance of the patio being higher than it is. The trees are actually lower. Oh, and the windows are probably to a rec room or basement that is also lower than the patio level. Reminds me of my aunt & uncle's yard in Cincinnati near Ault Park.

Mom doesn't seem to have touched her wine, nor has her bench mate to her right. And I found the juxtaposition of ketchup on the table with wine, silverware and decent china to be less than de rigueur. Ah, well.

Comparing wristwatches

I was looking at the watch on the woman's wrist in the Lil Boomer photo and was wondering if it was the same watch as on the wrist of the woman on the right in this photo. Difficult to tell.

http://www.shorpy.com/node/14453

Family tree and other thoughts, Watson

It is funny that we're all trying to figure this group out.

These are part of the "Linda Kodachromes" (So only Dave knows for sure) But I'm going to have at it anyway.

Look back again at the little girl's birthday. She's related in looks particularly to the older woman in the green dress and the younger woman in blue denim. So I think that's mother and daughter/granddaughter (little baby girl). I think the woman in the green dress is the wife/mother of the house. She's also on the lounge in the picture with the baby (re: watch on wrist). The father would then be (age-wise) the man in the suit. Dinnertime in the summer, he'd be coming home from his city job just in time for an evening meal outside.

I think his older son has his back to us (hair color, hairline, size). The other woman hidden from our view may be a mother-in-law or married to the son. I see a touch of lighter hair and it's frizzier. The two at the end may be siblings or friends, but not married (he's not wearing a ring, she's young) plus they have the same nose as the lady in green.

The table setting speaks to some depth, time and money in the household. Modern artistic dishes, real silver from the '30s (family pieces or wedding gifts?) and the goblets are older as well. Two bottles of wine with dinner, which for some reason I keep thinking is fish. Perhaps the whites been drunk already and the red is a dessert wine. The whole setting speaks to an established style infused with modern.

Now to the photographer. This person's place is the only one with a glass of water. Suggesting someone too young to drink. The photo also suggests someone who is not adept at photography at all. No one is ready for this shot, all are turned away. It's definitely a quick snap. Also, he/she is not that tall.

One more thing: This is a rooftop "patio," a found space. It's up at least atop a first story (above a garage at the back of the building. See tree height). It's quite tight (table angle, position of photographer). The building's windows & "roman" brick style suggest an urban/city home environment.

That's all I got. Will we ever know?

Another yarn.

The missing person is a professor--of physics maybe?--who is taking the shot. The woman in the green dress is his wife. The man in the suit is a visiting foreign professor, escaped from Hungary maybe? The other four at the table are graduate students and their wives/fiancee's. The brick work and the maple/beech woods say this is a new modern subdivision in East Lansing Michigan. The professor and his wife were originally from New York City, he got his PhD at Columbia, and they continue to vacation on Cape Cod every summer. It all makes sense.

Within Reach

It's a testament to the enduring power of midcentury style, or at least its resurgence in popularity, that very little in this 60-year-old photograph would be out of place in a contemporary design magazine--although the young man with the buzz cut is missing de rigueur wispy facial hair. The lowly Heinz bottle has earned its place as a kind of Platonic ideal.

Three Couples and a Salesman

I am guessing that the "photographer is the husband of one of the two ladies on the right side of the table, probably the woman in the green dress. The woman hidden behind her is either her daughter or the husband or sister of the fellow in the red shirt.

As someone mentioned earlier the odd man out in the suit and tie is probably a salesman, most likely selling insurance.

Wine: What it is, how to use it

These people were not just on a patio but on the cusp of a trend. Ad from 1953. Click to embiggen.

Relationships

I think we have in-laws and newlyweds. Red shirt guy is unmarried brother-in-law. Home is probably that of the photographer; unless he was a particularly obsessive camera-bug, he wouldn't have lugged the Leica along to a casual dinner party, but just went inside to grab it for the shot.

Missing

I had assumed that the photographer is the husband of the woman in the light green dress and that the young wine drinker in the plaid shirt is the unattached guest invited to dinner. By the way, I do appreciate the individual components listed by Deborah, but I’m not as enthusiastic about how it all comes together. I find the wineglasses especially clunky and under-sized. But then the US was not a heavy-duty wine-drinking nation back in the fifties. A+ for effort, though.

[Those "wineglasses" are goblets. - Dave]

Dress code

I'm nostalgic for the days when men wore coats and ties even for informal gatherings. I've been doing it lately myself; I'm trying to start a revolution. It's not working. All that happens is that I get assailed with sarcastic comments. Comments from people who are wearing their pajamas in public, or who look like an unmade bed.

Won't hurt a bit

Is that a vaccination scar on her left arm?

Missing persons.

I see that there are two empty places -- one might be the photographer, so who is the odd one out? If it were two couples hosting a visitor, fine, but is it two women or a man and a woman who are away from the table?

I'm guessing the man of the house has his back to us, his wife was sitting to his left, serving the wine and taking the photo, and the other missing person could be the woman on the right's husband, or the wife of the newly arrived guest who still has his travel suit on.

[There are six people in this photo -- three men and three women, with one Missing Person. - Dave]

In Good Hands

I believe the gentleman in the suit and tie is trying to sell them insurance.

Slay me now, indeed!

Slay me now -- this is gorgeous. Atomic wire end tables...

Absolutely! I was two years old then, but - even if my assessments are too rosy and not really true - I see these folks and envy their confidence, the lives they would have in the coming decade (1957 Chevy Nomads!!!), technological devleopments like stereo and color TV. And let me pretend the gent on the close end of the table was an amateur radio operator and was about to buy an E.F. Johnson single sideband transmitter and Viking Desktop Kilowatt!!!

That Red Plaid Shirt

I had one just like it a few years after this photo was taken. It scared away most girls and all but the toughest dogs.

Upscale crowd

Wine, suit & tie for an outdoor meal, real silverware, nice china instead of paper plates, well groomed all around, jazz would seem more likely than pop music.

Give it about four more years and they'll be talking about how perfectly dreadful that Elvis guy is.

Style notes

The roman brick on the house suggests a modern design, long and low, possibly with overhanging eaves. I hope we get to see it later in the "Linda" series.

Also, the couple across the table illustrates that, unless you're on the same bowling team, it has never been a good idea for spouses to dress alike.

Proof

That there was color back in the black and white 1950s.

Mid-century masters of good living

Slay me now -- this is gorgeous. Atomic wire end tables, Dansk salad bowl (on its own wire stand "for tossing" beautifully patinaed!!) The hand-painted earthenware, paired with silverware, a silver salver and condiment set; and to top it off, crystal wine glasses. It's a casual meal though, given that the Heinz ketchup bottle is actually on the table. What a setting. Love it!

[Also note the wine bottles and caddy on the end table at right. -Dave]

 
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