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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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Bad Party Ideas: 1959

Bad Party Ideas: 1959

Sometimes parents get very bad ideas. In the case of my fifth birthday party, my mother got this one. She decided that children did not need tables and chairs and bought a roll of shelf paper instead. She took the furniture out of the kitchen and laid two rows of paper on the kitchen floor. We all had to sit on the floor to eat the cake and ice cream with the shelf paper serving as a festive “table cloth.” She thought it was brilliant. I thought it was a nightmare.

After I decided to post this picture to Shorpy, and had scanned it, I asked my mother why she did that. She continued to boast what a great idea it had been. But she did admit that her inspiration was that I had invited more children than we had tables and chairs for. Either we bought more chairs by the time I turned six, or I invited fewer guests, because she did not do this party on the kitchen floor again.

On Shorpy:
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Been There; Done That!

In the early 1960s, I was invited to a birthday party for my friend Keith. I forget whether it was his 5th or 6th birthday. We did it on the floor, too!

Yeah, The Arm is Creepy Weird

There are several other photos taken at this party including one where my mother and Dorothy Neil (guessing that she is the owner of the disembodied arm) are in frame. Her daughters Darlene (in dark dress with big bow on back) and Debbie (who is first in the right row and mostly blocked from view by her younger sister) are the kids I can identify because they appear in my family photos many times. They lived next door to us.

The curtain is one of the original bamboo curtains that the Levittown houses were built with, that has been cut down. To save money Levitt used these bamboo curtains instead of doors on all closets. My father replaced them, one by one, with sliding wood doors, which is how my mother came to have a bamboo curtain for the island counter she had built for that kitchen.
I shall have to go find some of the other shots from this party to post. Not sure how long that will take. But I will find one that shows whatever my mother was wearing, and I will find one of the reverse shots that show faces for the kids.

Bonus points

... to aenthal if she can name any of the kids. (First names only are needed, to protect the innocent.) Plus, I'm increasingly disturbed by that disembodied arm behind what I think might be an island counter, or maybe those are curtains in front (???). With regard to the failure of a novel and untested idea, pardon your mom for trying something new, even if it looks like a human board game crossed with Twister. Maternal kudos to Arlene for hosting this party 59 years ago. (I would love to see what she was wearing that day.) And aren't the little girls just so adorable in their party dresses and pretty hair!

Boy in back row

He's also thinking: Oh great, thanks loads, Andrea - except for that one other guy and me, this is an all-girls party.


Boy in back row is thinking your thought.

SHORPY OLD 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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