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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Lux Aeterna: 1943

Lux Aeterna: 1943

March 1943. "Brakeman Jack Torbet, sitting at the window of the caboose pulling out of Waynoka, Oklahoma, on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad." Photo by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Slack action

He will take all of that stuff off the table once he hears couplers banging.

Brakeman's signal lamp

I was surprised to see that the brakeman's lamp is exactly the same as a Burlington Northern lamp that I have from the 80's. The only difference is that mine is made of orange plastic with clear plastic cage over the bulbs. Same bulb layout, same hoop handle, same shape and probably the same 6 volt lantern battery inside. These were used to signal the engineer from trackside like in the Jack Delano photos.

Fiat lux dupliciter

Nice contrast between the lamp still run on kerosene (or other liquid fuel) versus the signal lantern on the table corner being battery-powered. The lantern is on its guard/stand with the lens facing down; the ring is the carrying handle, if you were wondering. Everything looks pretty sturdy including the thermos that could *gasp* actually keep things hot or cold for a reasonable time.

Authentic Kromer

Torbet’s cap is a genuine Stormy Kromer, still made to this day. In the early 1900s one George “Stormy” Kromer was driving steam locomotives for the CNW Railroad in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. His search for the perfect cap was futile, so he had his wife, Ida, make him one. Next thing you know his conductor wanted one, and the rest is history.

A gorgeous picture

The kerosene lamp, the dark interior, the darkness outside, and the bored and/or pensive expression on the man's face all combine to produce an evocative picture. Photoshop out the blurry high-powered flashlight on the table, and it would be perfect.

42 years old

John Allen Torbet was born in Iowa on 18th September 1901 the son of the Reverend Walter and Anna Lytle.
He married New Jersey born Helen Carver (1908-1996) around 1930 and they had 3 children.
The 1940 census has the family living at 225 Palm Drive, Piedmont CA where Jack was earning $1800 a year, working a 56 hour week.
He died in Butte County, CA in 1988

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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