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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORWAY IN SEPTEMBER, c. 1920s

The Inner Childs: 1920

The Inner Childs: 1920

Washington circa 1920. "Peyse & Patzy[?]. Childs Restaurant." Acres of white tile for that hygienic, sanitary look. National Photo glass negative. View full size.

 

Correct time?

Looks more like a couple of minutes after 4 to me.

It's 12:20

where are all the patrons?

Don't Order the Liver

This place looks more like an autopsy room. It's kinda gross. I couldn't eat there. Way too cold, sterile, and ugly.

Notice to Patrons

In keeping with the all-washable decor, the "Notice to Patrons" appears to be a classic reverse-painted glass sign. Fancy examples featured burnished gilding, "glue-chipped" and mirrored backgrounds, and lettering inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Surviving examples are expensive collectibles today.

Great Expectorations

Nice place, but where's the spittoons?

Still All the Rage

Restaurant walls covered in glazed tiles never went out of style in Southeast Asia. Two eateries that I frequent here in Bangkok look just like this.

On the Grid

Of course once you start to get cracks in all those pretty white tiles and the grout starts to mildew, the vibe goes from operating room to bus station bathroom, or worse. A la the dental office in "Brazil."

Childs' play

William and Samuel Childs began the Childs chain of restaurants in the late 19th century in New York City. Their restaurants were always white-tiled -- floors, ceilings, walls -- to give patrons an impression of sanitation and order. Some even put their cooks on display, preparing food in the front window both to entice hungry passers-by and to reassure them that their food was prepared in a sanitary manner.

After 1898 most Childs restaurants were self-service cafeterias, since this both cut operating costs and allowed customers to inspect the food before buying. (At the time it was believed that disease could be spread only by food that was obviously spoiled or dirty.) Those that weren't self-serve featured waitresses in crisp white uniforms.

A closer look

Hat rack - coat hooks
Cut glass sugar bowls
Sign looks set into the wall or replacing a small window?
Table legs appear to be on blocks.

Crash-rash-rash-rash-rash

I'll bet there was an awful echo in the dining room, especially when someone broke a plate of oyster shells or rib-bones.

I'd eat there (with earplugs)

I think it's absolutely gorgeous. The acoustics are probably unbearable, though.

White Castle meets IRT in DC

Cross White Castle with a New York City subway station, and their offspring might have looked like this.

Perfect

Except for that napkin on the floor under the table. Wonderful tile work, floor and ceiling!

 
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