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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FRENCH BICYCLE GODDESS, c. 1898

A Boy and His Toys

A Boy and His Toys

I'm sure Santa has been or will be good to this serious little guy, reminiscent though he may be of Augustus Gloop. I can't read the calendar, but the 31st falling on a Friday makes it either 1926 or '37. After researching, I found out that "Boy Scouts to the Rescue" came out in 1921, and the little poem "Am I Ready for School?" was mentioned in a 1924 Louisiana State Health Department bulletin. Any thoughts? [Update: The calendars are from January 1941.] View full size.

Toy soldiers

The toy soldiers on the shelves to the right - my dad passed along to me some that he had when he was a kid. Since Dad was born in 1925, I would guess that they are WWI cast toy soldiers. Very nice collectible.

Springfield, Illinois?

I thought that whole photograph felt awfully familiar. I was born in Springfield in April of 1945, and lived there until 1964.

Thanks for the details, folks.

Eau de Corduroy

To this day I can still remember the smells of the Shrine Of The Little Flower if by chance it rained on a Friday. The combination of wet corduroy and the egg or fish sandwiches we brown-bagged for lunch would fill the halls of learning with an odor I still remember 60 years later.

It was a tough life, my children, when you had to walk uphill to school during driving rainstorms while protecting your homework and lunch. And yes we had to walk uphill going back home, too.

Dear Gramma...

Thanks for the pants...

I recognize the stance of a mandatory thank-you letter being written. The picture is just proof that it was done. Good one.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Most of the photographs were taken around Macarthur Boulevard in Springfield, Illinois.

Where is "this neighborhood"?

I like to add state and city details to the pictures!

Collective wisdom

I went off to Christmas activities and came back to read what you all shared - it's overwhelming and I thank you. This picture came from a lot taken by an amateur photographer who lived in my present neighborhood. They span several decades and extended family and friends.
Older than Yoda: I always wondered about those horrible pants!

Do your best

The Official Flags of the BSA referenced by Gary Faules at 11:57 am, indicates that this is for Den 2 not Pack 2. Dens are subsets of packs and there are usually a number of dens making up a pack.

The Shirt

That shirt he is wearing says 1940-41. His mother must have forced it on him. In 47-48 I got a similar one in a box of hand-me-downs from my cousins.

Buckshot Corduroy

I believe the boy got brand new Christmas pants and they were made of fabric called "buckshot corduroy". I remember this from the very early 40's (and for about a decade later) and they were extra heavy, thick, bulky and embarrassing because when you walked, it made the sound of someone tearing up cardboard and the faster you walked, the more tearing took place. People could be heard swishing everywhere, even when their shoes were nearly silent and it was an unwelcome attention-getter. Yeah, this kid was hefty, but we can't all be sylph-like and physically perfect. When one plants a McIntosh, one gets a McIntosh. Two rotund parents create a rotund kid, but that is just as God made him. I would guess this was about 1941.

Another year

1943 is also a year with a December 31st falling on a Friday.

[That's a January 1941 calendar in the photo. - Dave]

Wave your flag up high

According to The Official Flags of the BSA the blue flag is a Cub Scout pack flag.

http://www.mninter.net/~blkeagle/flags.htm

Dead Giveaway

If you look at the board above his head you will see an image of an automobile. I believe it is a 1937 Chevy. But whatever it is, it is late 1930's or early 1940's.

Allow Me to Pile On

The Twenty Game Combination also seems to be from at least the late 1930's:
http://www.tias.com/cgi-bin/google.fcgi/itemKey=1923109051

Merry Xmas, keep up the excellent work on the website!!

Deep in (evil) thought

Pugsley Addams contemplates new and exciting uses for dynamite.

It all adds up.

In response to the A.T. question about the thing on the stool, a Google search turned up a Wolverine Toy Adding Machine (1940's). It's too late for this Christmas, but you can buy one on eBay for about $15.

Hey Wally! Hey Beav!

This is the corner of Wally and Beaver's room that you never got to see. The pendant says "Illinois State House" and I'll presume that the square flag is for Cub Scout Pack #2. That "thing" on the stool looks like an adding machine or some sort of early calculator - but not a ten-key. Beyond that, the picture looks a little stagey to me, not like a "real" boy's room - unless his Mother just spent the day in there cleaning and tidying for the photographer. I can see Dave putting on his white gloves as I type this, but I'll say it anyway: that boy has an awfully FAT ASS for a kid, doesn't he? And now that I've been banned, I'll go for broke and wonder out loud what nasty stuff might be hidden at the bottom of one of those drawers - you know, under his butterfly collection? Merry Christmas, Dave!

Remaining Mysteries

What do you suppose he's staring at and what is that thing sitting on the stool?

January 1941

The image on the lower calendar is "A Boy Scout Is Helpful," painted by Norman Rockwell for the 1941 Boy Scout Calendar.

Happy to be of help,

The Art Sleuth

The Pants, The Pants

The boy is wearing long pants, not very likely in 1926. Everything else in the room says late 1930s into the early 1940s, except that combination gas/electric wall sconce. Definitely an older house, but not so very old in 1937 or 1941. I'd go with January 1941, since the calendar art does appear to depict Father Time and the New Year Baby, and Christmas decorations stay up in many homes through Twelfth Night (Epiphany, January 6th). Whatever the date, thanks and Merry Christmas to you Dave, and everyone else, for providing us all with so much innocent merriment year-round.

Phone

That phone looks awfully small for this period; I'd be willing to bet it's a toy. As to the period, everything about it - toys, clothes, furniture, graphics styles - screams late-30s to early-40s to me. A bit before my time, but my brother would have been about this kid's age then, and there was still lots of his stuff around when I was growing up and cohabiting his bedroom.

Toy Soldiers

The toy soldiers are made by Manoil, so it's gotta be '30s at least.

On my honor I will do my best...

"The Boy Scouts to the Rescue" was written by Charles Henry Lerrigo and the hardback with cover was copyrighted in 1920 and there was ony one printing ever published. That one appears to be brand new judging by the condition of it.

[That book had a different cover. - Dave]

Around or after 1939

The book under his little tree gives us a pretty close date... "Boy Scouts to the Rescue" by Leonard K Smith was published by Little, Brown in 1939.

The book is not to me mistaken with "THE Boy Scouts to the rescue" by George Durston, published by Saalfield in 1921.

If you look at the bottom of the book cover, you can clearly see the letters RD, so it's a pretty safe bet that it's the Leonard K Smith book. Also the Durston book has a very different cover.

The truck, the truck

The cab and fenders of the truck under the Christmas tree suggest mid to late '30s at the earliest. Far too rounded and aerodynamic-style to be 1926. Looking at the cars pinned to the board above him, I'd venture to say the calendar shows January 1941.

Maybe a little later?

I'd probably lean towards the later date, as the boy has a reasonably modern-looking wristwatch. I was under the impression that wristwatches were still "newfangled" and pretty expensive through the 20s.

Also, the telephone should be a clue. I don't have any idea when phones made their various changes, but that style tends to make me think newer rather than older.

It's also interesting that, if this is the boy's bedroom (and not a corner of the livingroom or den) then having his own phone is pretty noteworthy. Just having an extension was a nontrivial additional cost- this was back when you leased the telephone itself from the phone company.

Any experts out there to help?

Oh, one more hint I just noticed: See the cars on the feltboard? Those are definitely '30s-and-later designs, and not '20s.

Any guesses on the cord coming out of the lamp? I'm assuming the Christmas tree is plugged into that- or possibly the desk lamp itself, which would explain why the tree isn't lit. The house could easily be old enough it has no- or very few- actual outlets.

The truck.

That truck under the Christmas tree looks like a more advanced design than any of the other mid 1920-s examples I've seen on Shorpy.

Also, that carved elephant is awesome.

The Phone, The Phone.

The telephone is also a giveaway. Although invented in 1919, dial telephone service did not come into popular use until the 1930`s, and this phone is a later model.

Just a swag

I'd hazard a guess of 1937. Take a look at the toy truck by the book. Seems to have a decidedly 1930's look to me. That and the lamp and the telephone would make me think the later 1930's.

The plane, the plane

Just under the top shelf of the book case below the toy soldiers and the tent at the right in the picture is what seems to be a thin box. If you look carefully at the aircraft that's on the side of the box, you can see that it appears to be of a design that was not made until at least the mid to late 30s. An aircraft expert could help more.

The Good Scout

That's Baby New Year and Father Time on the calendar, which would be for January -- 1930, 1936 or 1941. This photo has a mid-30s, early 40s look to it. What a great picture!

 
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