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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • STOCKHOLM TRAVEL, 1936

Office Xmas Party: 1925

Office Xmas Party: 1925

        It's the Friday before Christmas, which means it's time for a hallowed holiday tradition here at Shorpy: The Office Xmas Party! Which has been going on for 90 years now. Will Clarence in Sales ever get up the nerve to ask out Hermione from Accounting? Is there gin in that oilcan? Ask the bear.

Washington, D.C., 1925. "Western Electric Co. group." There are enough little dramas playing out here to keep the forensic partyologists busy until Ground Hog Day. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

Times they don't change

The women definitely place this picture in time by their clothes and hair. The men, especially the back row, center in photo, remind me of my father's photos of the late 1950's. It's all quite timeless.

No one seems to have noticed

but the shy guy in front of GO GO is none other than Irving Berlin, on a guided tour of the Western Electric facility and already evidencing the reclusiveness of his later years. At uppermost left, we have the mustachioed miscreant looking disdainfully at those beneath him, which is everyone. And finally, we have Grishkin at lowermost right, a rather handsome woman whose lean and hungry look hath a troubled aspect not customarily associated with holiday gatherings (apart from those with family members present). She seems to have wandered in from one of those Russian plays that Ira Gershwin makes reference to.

All of which can only mean one thing - it's Christmas time here at Shorpy's. Greetings and salutations to all!

White Elephant Gift Exchange

I going with a White Elephant Gift Exchange for an Office Christmas Party. It explains the goofy gifts and the attire. Some of the exchanged presents still have tags on them.

Tales from the Jazz Age

I'd like to take a crack at imagining who some of these people could be --

Oil Can Girl (seated at bottom, center) - Never turns down a chance to cut a rug at a speke. Very generous with the contents of her hip flask, which in a pinch can supply fuel for her sometime-boyfriend’s Hupmobile.

Desk Girl (seated at bottom, left) - Staring intently at a winged, two-horned leopard and wondering if she should jump up and scream at everybody to run for their lives.

Lace Collar Girl (two left from Oil Can Girl) - Wondering why Desk Girl is staring so intently at the office kitty-cat.

Time Warp Girl - (immediately above Desk Girl) - Up until a few weeks ago was a liberal arts major at an Ivy League university in the year 1969, then stumbled through a time portal into 1925. Decided to stay and get a job because, well, things are a lot less crazy here.

Starlet Girl - (above and to the right of Time Warp Girl) - Avid reader of Photoplay, Picture-Play, Screenland, Movie Weekly, Movie Mirror, and lots more. Passionately believes that her good looks could bring her fame in Hollywood, if only she could manage to stop tossing money away on magazines and save up for the train fare.

Hat Girl (immediately above Starlet Girl) - Took a few slugs from Oil Can Girl’s hip flask, now having trouble remembering her name.

Trashed Girl (immediately to the right of Hat Girl) - Took even more slugs from Oil Can Girl’s hip flask, but still conscious enough to realize that if she stops leaning on the girl below her, she’ll tumble to the floor.

Handsome Guy (standing in the back, left side, farthest left) - All the office girls have swooned over him at one time or another. Been engaged six times, but it always breaks off when he tells his bride-to-be that his mother will be living with them.

New Pretty Girl - (third from left, standing) - Just started work this past month. Soon to be Handsome Guy’s next ex-fiancee.

Wow, this is way too long already. Anyway, you get the idea. This is fun!

This photo

is what prompted me to make an account on Shorpy. The first thing that jumped out at me was, is that a man in drag standing with his hand on the young lady's shoulder? The lady in question looks a bit like Drew Barrymore.

I noticed the indentations between the eyes of many of the men, and realized that they did take their glasses off for the photo, to minimize glare. No featherweight lenses in those days!

Colorized Version Hidden in Plain Sight

Check out http://www.shorpy.com/node/11937 for colorized version in Colorized Photos by members. Dave, do I get a prize for finding it?

An Evocative Photograph

The romance of old photographs is especially powerful in a picture like this. Studying the faces of what we assume are long departed strangers, we can't help speculating about the nature of their inner lives and how things turned out for them. Who ended up married to someone who made them happy or miserable? Which one(s) got ahead and who descended into poverty? Who died young - and so on?

With hindsight we know that only a few years after that Christmas party in 1925, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Then World War II winnowed out a great many - how did this group of individuals make out through all those difficult times? There are many such questions which occur to the curious.

This is an extraordinarily evocative photograph. The transience of everything is plain to see in this picture if you notice such things.

Love this photo....

Like so many of you, I love it when this photo is trotted out! We are so drawn to it and love imagining what this party must have been like, the silly little gifts, the party girls, and those who just wanted it to all be over with so they could get back to work.

Each year I am struck by the lady behind the one in the striped blouse. She looks like she could have been in my high school annual from 1970. Yes, I dated myself there! Her hair style looks like it could have been from the 1970's, unlike her co-workers with their many finger waves. Keep posting this one, Dave....truly a classic!

Lots of single women in that office

No wedding rings on almost all of them. Perhaps a woman worked until she got married, or at least until she had children - and then she was sequestered in the kit home built in one of America's booming trolley suburbs.

It must have been a major change for these ladies to go from office life, with its daily human contact and pleasures (such as this office party) to a few rooms, kitchen and nursery figuring predominantly. My grandmother still reminisced proudly about her work as a lawyer's assistant in the 1920s, way back before she got married, had three children, and spent most of her time in the top floor of a Boston triple-decker for the next 20 years.

Every year

Every year when I look at this, I think the same thing: do all those dames hate Desk Woman for the same reason, or different ones?

Party Time

The office parties and associated grab bags were created to give us all a chance to regift.
Allow me now to wish all of our Shorpy viewers, creators and commenters a very happy Holiday season. Let us all be well, prosper and keep returning to this wonderful site.

Could it be?

I've looked at this photo for three Decembers now, and I just noticed that the girl sitting behind the girl with the striped blouse, and how much she looks like she could be Johnny Depp's great-grandmother.

Raise your glasses

I'm sure one of our more knowledgeable posters might know better, but I wonder if glasses were removed to prevent unwanted flash effects?

What's Left To Say?

Besides their clothes and hair dos, two things that I’m glad have changed: The way Christmas trees look and protective coating for hardwood floors. And I’m guessing they had a White Elephant gift exchange, thus the whimsical gifts.

Re 2%

The cigar smoker on the right in the three-button suit and the gent on his right both are holding eyeglasses, all the more to ratchet up their smashing good looks. Well, maybe just looks.

The Girl with the Curl -- and the candy cane.

There once was a girl
with a pretty little curl
right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good
She was very, very good
and when she was bad
she was even better!

My cue

I don't even start listening to Christmas music until I see this picture reheated. It's a classic.

2%

Of the 47 people in the photo, only one is wearing glasses. Did the Ion Department require perfect vision of its workers?

Is there anybody out there?

Surely one of these people in the photo has a living relative (great grandkids, grandkids, etc) that might be able to shed some light on this photo.

Naughty or Nice?

This oft-repeated photo is starting to remind me of the traditional holiday tune by Eric Cartman (of South Park fame) singing about the Swiss Colony Beef Log; irreverent but fun.

What's printed on that document?

Dave, can you zoom in on the piece of paper being held by the guy kneeling in the center, right in front of the tree? It's almost as if he's trying to show it to the camera. Thanks!

-------------------------------------
Just a something something
TO WISH
You and Yours
A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year
Division Four Office
1925

The face that could sink a thousand ships

The guy holding the cigar, oh man I want to punch his face!

The other 13

I have just spent an extremely enjoyable hour reading all the comments reaching back to 2008. Of the 47 people in the photo, 34 have been commented on. So what about the other 13? Six guys in the upper left have been ignored, plus seven gals in the pack. The most prominent of the abandoned baker's dozen are, to my mind, the two women standing side by side, closest to the tree. Both have bead necklaces: one tucked in, one on the outside. They seem neither hot nor cold, neither suicidal nor drunk. The two of them actually look (dare I say?) like really nice people.

Worth a second or third look

There are some half dozen ladies in this photo. Like the one right behind the corner of the desk, with the chevron shapes on her dress and the one directly in front of the door on the left that are definitely worth seeing again.

Merry Christmas Shorpyites!

NOW it's the holiday season...

..when Shorpy breaks out this holiday classic! I wonder what pop-culture figures of the past year will be likened to our hard-partying crew?

Par-TAY!

I totally wanna party with this crew. I've always loved the Roaring-Twenties era, and the show Boardwalk Empire is doing a great job with the fashions and the music. I think Nucky Thompson needs to sprinkle a little Xmas cheer on this group. Volstead Act be damned!

Talk About Your Lonely Hearts

This could be the Sgt. Pepper album just before The Beatles stepped into the shot

Young bald guy

Every time I see this, my eyes go to the young, very handsome man who is looking over the shoulder of the rather portly guy on the right side of the photo. Balding men didn't have many options, then, like they do now, but I rather doubt that the premature balding kept all the young ladies away from him!

I wonder which of these men were veterans of WWI?

At the Ion Department Christmas Party . . .

That exotic woman sitting in front of the desk in the lower left STILL seems distracted by something just out of camera, and the woman in front of her is still watching her carefully.

It's a wonderful photo worth our annual holiday attention!

--Jim

Not Al Jolson

Wade in NW Florida: if he looks like anybody of that period, it would most likely be Eddie Cantor, not Al Jolson.

Best Christmas Party Ever

First, Dave, you have cured my holiday depression. I found this during a post-Xmas hangover and there are no words. I was instantly addicted to your site. Thank you.

Second, if there is anyone out there with connections to the BAU I would like you to seriously consider imposing yourself on that relationship and get them on it. I'm dying for a more complete story. You must be too if you're reading this. You know who you are. Pick up that phone and give him/her a call.

Another year older

I just love this photo. There's so much to analyze. Saw it last year for the first time. Here we all are, another year older. That would include those in the picture, in a macabre sort of way.

Why the oil can

Those three objects in front - Maybe just spur-of-the-moment party silliness?

Al Jolson

Is that Al Jolson in front of the "Traffic signal" bald guy? He's peering out just a bit from behind the guy with the vest and holding his glasses. 1925, the timeline is right. :)

Thank you, Dave

I hope this re-posting will bring new fans. Merry Xmas,everyone!

Iconic Status

This photo has taken on a level of immortality that few others can hope to achieve. A Photograph for the ages that will always be appreciated and admired. A Tradition is born! Thanks to Dave and all that visit here; hopefully someday your office pictures will be shown here and we can all marvel at how far we've come in so short a time.
Tiny Tim said it best so I shan't repeat it but that is my wish for one and all.

Shorpy Christmas card

If Dave would produce an annual Shorpy Christmas card I would buy a few boxes, and I'm sure others would as well. Cards with this photo would be seen in every business cubicle in the country and quite a few places around the globe. It says Merry Xmas for me.

So much to read into

This picture is as familiar to longtime readers of this blog as our own family photos and as evergreen as that Christmas Tree was before it was cut down. One can imagine so much here, for example that as soon as the photographer finishes with his duties, the Volstead Act will be violated by most of the people in this room (there are a few who look as if they might disapprove), and the usual office party shenanigans will occur, some of which might have consequences in the months to follow even if they all swear that what happens at the Office Party stays at the Office Party.

Party Hearty

Ooooo -- Roaring twenties office party, bathtub gin. Oooooo -- I think I just threw up in my throat a little bit.

3rd row

from the top 3rd from the left. I'm in love.

Oh wait.

She apparently had a good time with my grandpa.

As she is my grandma!

"The gal sitting on the floor behind the Oil can has had a drink or two already, and she is plotting mischief. I can see it in her eyes! Was she the good time that was had by all?"

Festivus

Its good to see this one again. I just keep looking at the people and see more than a few that would have been great company. I hope everyone, viewers, commenters, Dave and webmaster Ken has a great Holiday Season in the company of friends and loved ones.

The ion Department

A quick flip of the door confirms we are in room 504 of the ion Department.

Cost of that tree

Could not have been more then a dollar in 2011 money

Must have been last minute!!!

Up to no good?

The gal sitting on the floor behind the Oil can has had a drink or two already, and she is plotting mischief. I can see it in her eyes! Was she the good time that was had by all?

"Pure horse, Danno. Book 'em."

Having just spotted the drug paraphernalia on the left - the scale, the packaging materials, the kimono-wearing parrot - our undercover coppette in mid-pack has whipped out her official police hat and ignoring the cries of "that baggy's not mine!" is about ready to haul the whole gang downtown. A bust like this baby was sure to bump her upstairs and away from all these dreary office parties.

My hat!

How did she get it?

Lord Almighty!!!

It's the butler in the pantry!!!

I have never, ever seen so many guilty people in one photograph.

Unbelievable that it was not staged. But it obviously wasn't.

Wow!!!

Another Shorpy Party!

I love this photo and we're going to test the limits of the reply counter. Merry Christmas everyone and have a grand new year!

Secrets never revealed

There is no question that many secret alliances and not-always discreet hook-ups probably took place during and after this festive celebration 86 years ago. Luckily for those involved, there were no surveillance cameras, cell phone cameras, tape recorders, security guards, texting devices or other pesky snooping devices that could cause the merrymakers a permanent record (and deep lifetime regret) of their missteps. They were the roaring 20's when people gathered their rosebuds where they may and parties were for having the best time you could have. I'm betting many of these revelers took their sweet and sordid memories of that night to their graves.

 
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