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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • CARNIVAL OF THE ARTS, 1937

Home Entertainment: 1943

Home Entertainment: 1943

February 1943. "Blue Island, Illinois. 2439 Orchard Street. Bobby Senise and mother listening to a radio program. Home of Daniel Senise, engine foreman on the Indiana Harbor Belt Line." Safety negative by Jack Delano. View full size.

 

Cool Chair

I love the chair and ottoman. Does that style of furniture have a name?

The Human Comedy

This immediately made me recall reading Saroyan's "The Human Comedy" except it's the Midwest rather than California.

Watching the Radio

This scene reminds me of what Grandma Rose used to frequently tell us kids:

"TV off! Use your imagination!"

It's curtains for you, Mister.

I grew up in a house with inexcusably vulgar drapes in the living room and dining room. In the bedrooms and bathroom we had curtains that extended only to the bottoms of the window cases. What gets me going is the modern fashion of completely naked windows, no matter how traditional the rest of the interior features might be. And in the Cosi Fan Tutte world of today's English, saying drapes instead of draperies is probably not the social suicide that it once was. Better Homes & Gardens' online site makes a practical distinction between curtains and drapes, courageously defying the Wrath of Post:

Drape vs. Curtain

When is a "drape" really a "curtain"? Although the terms drapery and curtain are often used interchangeably, there is a technical difference. Curtains are made of lightweight fabrics and most often are unlined and operable. Draperies extend to the floor, tend to be lined, and are sewn of heavier fabric.

Curtains vs. drapes

I was about to launch a pedantic tirade over A. Tipster's use of the term "curtains" in reference to what I'd call "drapes," but a simple online search proved that the matter isn't so simple. Everybody can do their own, but the most interesting bit I found was etiquette maven Emily Post's 1950 fulmination over the word "drapes": "This word is an inexcusable vulgarism." Therefore, I instead commend Tipster for displaying a scrupulous sense of propriety.

Coulter pine cone

The giant pine cone came from a Coulter pine. This medium-sized pine tree is most prevalent in the coastal mountains of Southern California, but there are stands of it as far north as the Bay Area, and as far south as northern Baja California. Coulter pines produce the largest and heaviest pine cones of all species, and people working among them are cautioned to wear hard hats at all times.

Norman Rockwell

This brings back soooo many memories! Junior is clutching a rib and pulmonary artery recently plucked from his chest by the Mother-Goddess, who is going to make a sacrifice on her ottoman-altar just as soon as she fires up some incense in that Mayan firepot and tunes in the appropriate flute music. I love those curtains!!!

"Pine" cone

If walking through a redwood grove every day of my grade school life, and then frequently playing in one on the school grounds itself make one a true Californian, then I'm your boy. Therefore, I can attest that the cone is from a pine tree of some kind, not a redwood, whose equivalent is a little dinky thing. The other item no one's mentioned is the thing under the basket on the bottom shelf of the table: could be a photo album, which should get Shorpy mouths watering.

I could not spell it...

Loved your hilarious reply as I really wanted to use that word but could not figure out how to spell 'tchotchkes' as it was not in my 1975 dictionary. Found out it comes from both Polish (hooray) and Yiddish words. Nothing wrong with Elvis and Gladys, she too lived at Graceland, the motherlode of both tacky and tchotchke.

Oh Joe

I know this is a little recent for Mr. Manning but hey Joe? Such a nice family, Mom always in apron, Dad hard-working. Hope Jack came home from the war safely. If we knew where they were now, wouldn't it be interesting to contact them and say "Hey, take a look at Shorpy"? These photos bring back such a flood of memories for me. My mom had nine brothers and they all served in WWII. One never made it home, two were badly wounded. I picture my grandmother sitting where this lady is, listening to war news. And by the way, I am proud to go by "Mom."

Three-legged pot

I think the pot and the sombrero are both souvenirs of Mexico. The three legs and the lifting rings are typical of American native folk pieces, and it's decorated with the cactus motif expected by tourists.

Souvenirs from Out West

I'm not a "know-it-all" as I cannot identify the two implements that are keeping Bobby amused, but I do know that the items in question were all keepsakes from the souvenir shops in the West and Southwest in days of yore. The pottery was simply a novelty planter made by American Indian or Mexican craftsmen out of clay, as was the sombrero which had a decal on the front of where it was from. It did not necessarily serve a purpose as "souvenirs" are often useless curiosities. The giant pinecone was from the California behemoth redwoods, the fiber or straw totebag with ethnic people pictured is from the Southwest and the trophy looks like a bowling prize. The comfortable affection between mother and son is very similar to Elvis Presley's easy, kindred, unconditional love with his mother Gladys. We need a lot more of this type of family relationship today. It's a great picture that really takes one back, thank you Shorpy.

[Speaking of tacky tchotchkes, let's see if we can't work Elvis and Gladys into more comments. Well done! - Dave]

The radio

is a Philco 40-155, sold in 1939-40. It's a quite nice large table-top radio, with 8 tubes, covering the AM broadcast band and international short wave bands. It had built-in loop antennas for both broadcast and shortwave. I am currently restoring one, and it's a quite good performer.

They were lucky to have a relatively new radio, since production of radios for consumer use was halted shortly after Pearl Harbor. Repair parts were scarce, due to allocation of most production to the military; if your radio died and replacement parts could not be found, you couldn't just go and buy another one.

Mothers and sons II

I'm a new mom to a baby boy, and this shot really warms my heart. It shows that their relationship is a cozy and comfortable one. Funny, though, Ma looks more like Grandma or Aunt Bee to me. Pa seems too young for her. The worn Bible is a lovely touch, but what is that strange gewgaw next to it? Forget the sombrero; this is the doohickey I want to know about. It too looks like something one of the boys must have made in school: a three-legged creature with arms akimbo, carrying Christmas wreaths? Donuts?

Mothers and sons

My favorite thing about this photo is the comfortable affection between mother and son. It makes me think of my own kids and how they still like to cuddle their old mom on occasion, regardless of their ages.

Great site

G'day all.

Absolutely love this site, it's such a refeshing change from the doom & gloom of Main Stream Media. The clarity of the pics and the informed comments make it a must read site for me.

John
Melbourne Australia

2439 Orchard today

Nice place.


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Dad

Is "Bobby" perhaps Robert L. Senise, father of actor Gary Senise (also born in Blue Lake}?

[Interesting. Although Gary's last name is Sinise. - Dave]

Watching the radio

It's interesting how people used to watch the radio. I also notice how much the Bible on the table has been worn from being read.

My best guess for the thing on the table is an ash tray. My mother tells me that students were commonly taught to make ash trays in school over much of the 20th Century, so perhaps one of the boys made it. It would make sense, since it is on the same table as the ambiguous trophy.

It looks like Billy has a twig in his left hand and some sort of plastic knife in his right, but I'm not sure if that is right for several reasons.

I wonder what periodical Billy is using as a pillow.

Strange objects

Can anyone identify those things Bobby is fiddling with?

On the other hand, the thing on the table that looks like a ceramic sombrero is obviously a combination ash tray and citrus juicer. Wartime rationing strictures required that all ornamental devices also serve at least one, preferably two, practical purposes.

UPDATE: Dave's close-up inspires this guess: a couple of Mom's knitting or embroidery implements? Or maybe manicure thingies?

The bad old days

Daniel Senise (who isn't even in the photo) and Bobby Senise get names, but Mrs. Senise is just "mother." If Jack Delano was working in 2009, instead of 1943, his editor would probably rip him a new one, with her bare hands.

[Jack Delano took dozens of photos of the Senise family -- Betty, Daniel and their three sons and dog. He gives all of their names in the introductory photos and then as needed so we can tell the boys apart. - Dave]

 
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