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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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Cal's Car: 1924

Cal's Car: 1924

1924. Washington, D.C. "President and Mrs. Coolidge at Bolling Field." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Bascom Slemp owned a Pierce-Arrow, according to the Wikipedia article on the car. There probably weren't too many Pierce-Arrows around Congressman Slemp's Lee County, Virginia, home.


Both cars are Pierce-Arrows, with their distinctive fender-mounted headlights.

Aerial Circumnavigation

I believe this to be September 9, 1924. Coolidge and the First Lady went to Bolling to greet the pilots (Wade and Smith) who made the first aerial circumnavigation of the world. Coolidge's secretary C. Bascom Slemp was also reported to have attended according to the NY Times (9/10/24). I'm almost certain that's Slemp behind the first lady. The NY Times also reports that it was a rainy day and that many flags were on display, which you can see in the background here.

Coolidge in 1924

Granted that Coolidge was not a "smiley face" at the best of times, 1924 was not exactly a time when the Coolidges would have too much joy in their lives. In July 1924 their younger son, Cal Jr., died as a result of blood poisoning that developed after he played tennis barefoot on the White House tennis courts with his older brother. Based on Mrs. Coolidge's clothes this photo probably dates from before that event, but it's generally felt that his son's death left Coolidge even more withdrawn than he normally was.

Hats Off

We can see two of the men holding their hats over their hearts. The men in the background are bareheaded. They were showing their respect to someone or something - any idea what it was?

Silent Cal

Old Cal was not exactly a smiley face. He was succeeded by Herbert Hoover, another sourpuss. Then came the Depression. No wonder the charismatic FDR was elected four times.

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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