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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 • BUY WAR SAVINGS STAMPS, c. 1918

Lobster Feast: 1955

Lobster Feast: 1955

Circa 1955 somewhere in New England comes this unlabeled slide from the Linda Kodachromes and its table of boiled lobster and smoking people. View full size.

Another sticker

This reminds me so much of my Mom. She smoked unfiltered Pall Mall for many years, I finally talked her into filters which she called "core tips". She would pick the paper and tobacco off of her lipstick. It acted like a glue to the ciggs. Didn't break her stride a bit.

Lobster Stock

Obviously the end of the meal and it looks like it's just shells and carcasses left in pot. Plenty there for a nice lobster stock.

That pot of lobster

today would probably run about $600, very large lobsters too. The family must be from Maine, no melted butter on the table.

The Maine Trek

Mom emigrated to Ohio in the early 1950s, but we would make the trek back to Maine and Vermont every year or two. My grandparents lived in Poland Corners, and my aunts and cousins lived in Portland. This picture is extremely familiar. The lady in plaid could be Aunt Laura, and the lady in the foreground could be Aunt Jeanette. Today, I love lobster, but back then, as a Midwestern boy, it totally grossed me out.

Lobster at Tiffany's

I have that exact same lamp. I bought it at a flea market in Armada, MI in the early 90's. I wonder if that group sold it for cigarette money?

So round, so firm, so fully packed

In that quick, reflexive motion familiar to anyone born before filtered cigarettes, the woman in the foreground is picking tobacco off her tongue.

My father smoked three packs of Lucky Strikes a day, so I witnessed a good deal of tongue-picking.

Blue and White, times three

Someone really liked blue and white dishes, enough to buy three different patterns. One of them I don't recognize, but in the foreground we see the then fairly new Blue Danube pattern on the dessert plates; first imported in 1951, it was discontinued in 2010. A bunch of the coffee cups are in the perennial Blue Willow pattern which at least three manufacturers still make. It all harmonizes nicely with the lobster pot, not so nicely with the Chesterfields being snuffed out in the little dish in the foreground.

Filtered Cigarettes

The increasing popularity of filtered cigarettes at this time was often attributed to a desire for a healthier (perceived) cigarette, but actually the lady in the foreground shows the real reason. Unfiltered cigarette smokers, mostly of the female variety, were getting sick of picking flecks of tobacco from their tongues! Also, who's going to eat all that lobster still in the pot? I volunteer.

Hoity toity

In my memory of such dinners in Connecticut and Rhode Island, boiled lobster (and other shellfish) was always enjoyed on a table covered with several thicknesses of newspaper, nutcrackers, picks and Pyrex cups of melted butter.

 
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