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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • ROSES BY VINCENT VAN GOGH, 1890

Corporal Nourishment: 1942

Corporal Nourishment: 1942

May 1942. "A corporal in the Army takes his girl to dinner. Bakersfield, California." Photo by Russell Lee, Office of War Information. View full size.

 

The shoes

Those shoes are NOT wingtips, but they do have broguing. I recall seeing a picture of an American general wearing similar brown brogues. So they were definitely acceptable with that uniform. And I suspect the socks are a light tan. I think that was the uniform sock color at the time. And yeah, before Spandex, socks fell. Period.
And while I'm here, may I just say that this soldier's girl is a DOLL. Pretty woman!

Unit Patch

After noticing his shoes I saw that he wears no unit patch on his shoulder.

Changing of the colors

I believe it was 1957 when the U.S. Army changed the boots and shoes from brown to black. New ones weren't issued, but we had to dye the existing footwear. We could have done them ourselves, but most of us paid to have the color changed.

Look at his Army hat.

The hat seems to be a very high-quality hat, not an issue item. I wonder if the corporal wasn't a California National Guardsman or Army Reservist from the Bakersfield area now on active duty. National Guardsmen/Reservists would purchase commercial uniform items instead of or to replace issue items.

Her Shoes

From what I can see of her shoes they look very much like a pair my mother was wearing in a picture I have, taken at roughly the same time. All the pictures I have of her and my aunts in that time period look so elegant. As with this lovely lady, hair done just so, skirt and top nicely matched. And lets not forget the shoes!

Looking military

...didn't mean what it does today. There was a jaunty aspect to WW2 servicemen, with their tilted covers and brilliantined hair, that would be totally unacceptable today.

Army vets of the era

I've talked to Army veterans of this era and although I've never seen it before personally, I've been told that wearing white socks with the uniform while on leave was considered to be "cool." Of course, wearing one's socks rolled was also considered to be "cool, as well.

Even when I was in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam era, it was common to see soldiers in the airports wearing non-standard uniform items in their comings and goings around the country and overseas.

These practices were also common among sailors, who would pick up non-standard uniform items in the ports where there were thriving industries catering to this market.

I definitely wouldn't go so far as to call this soldier a "sorry soldier." We certainly know nothing of him or what became of him. He may be a decorated combat veteran for all we know.

I would guess that the soldier was on leave, because if he were to be on liberty, I'm sure the MPs would be on the look out for such things.

Re: Brownshoe Army

Regarding Texcritic's comment, brown shoes began to give way to black when the dress green Class A uniform was adopted in 1955. It took a while to get all those brown shoes out of the system, and to get the new black ones in.

I've talked to several Army veterans who served at this time, and they all remembered being issued two pairs of brown combat boots, two pairs of brown dress shoes--and two bottles of black shoe dye.

The old WW2 style uniform with Ike jacket was slowly phased out during this time. I had an uncle who served from 1957 to 1960--in basic he wore the old style uniform, but had the dress greens by the time he got out. The old style uniform was officially declared obsolete in 1960.

Ah, You Kids

...never had to deal with socks where the elastic - which was only at the top, anyway - gave out after a week and the whole sock slid uncomfortably down inside your shoe, leaving your heel naked and blistered. That rolled top is one solution.

Maybe he is a member

of the 117th Beau Brummel artillery unit.

Brownshoe Army

Until sometime in the early 1960s, dress shoes were brown to match the olive green Class A uniforms. The present forest green uniform came in to replace the prior uniform and necessitated black dress shoes. During my time as a draftee the phrase "brown shoe Army" was used to denote something as our of style.

Although wing tips were not likely standard issue it is entirely possible that in May 1942, some civilian footwear was issued as a substitute until uniform production could catch up with man power.

Those socks, though, that just indicates a sorry soldier.

War is Hell

If he was sent overseas (and I'm sure he was) I can imagine how tough it was to leave that beauty alone among the 4F wolves.

Movie Star

The young lady is movie star attractive. Army shoes back then may have been brown rather than black. The rolled socks are a hoot.

Civvie Footwear

Either this corporal is a reservist who's not yet received his complete clothing issue or his squad leader is blind, because the shoes appear to be wing tips, decidedly non-regulation.

The Inevitable Ketchup Bottle

My dad served in the Army from 1941-1945, and as a child I remember that he put ketchup on everything he ate, including mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs. I asked him why and he said that during his time in the service, the food, especially when he was in the Pacific, tasted so bland that ketchup was put on every meal to enhance it's flavor. He did this his entire life, and despite the fact that mom's cooking was so darn good, my brother and I put ketchup on our food too. Mom yelled; dad simply smiled.

A study in contrasts

Wonderful shoes, those brogues, but horrible socks. Also, while she’s eyeballing him, he’s intent on forking that food down.

This photo speaks volumes

1) You have got to love the rolled socks!

2) Take a good look at the young woman's look of love toward her soldier - priceless!

3) It goes to show you that Heinz Catsup was and is an American standard.

If he's lucky

Maybe she won't notice his goofy socks.

 
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