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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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Strangers on a Bus: 1943

Strangers on a Bus: 1943

September 1943. "Greyhound bus trip from Louisville, Kentucky, to Memphis, Tennessee. Passengers on the Memphis-Chattanooga bus." Medium-format nitrate negative by Esther Bubley for the Office of War Information. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Yay! Another Esther Bubley

Yay! Another Esther Bubley pic! I wish there was an Esther Bubley link under "Photographers" in the sidebar...


If you will notice there are no women standing. If a woman came on a bus a man would rise and give her his seat. It was a kinder and gentler time.

[These are ticketed passengers on a trip that will take many hours on a route covering hundreds of miles. Everyone had a seat -- nobody stood. - Dave]

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

"South by Southwest."

Bubley Spot On

Esther had a nice eye for framing.

Re: "Southpaw"

Time for one of your quarters, Dave...

[Done. - Dave]

More Hitch than Capra

These are not the cheery travelers in "It Happened One Night." They're more like the sinister bunch in "The Lady Vanishes."


This is no joyride. Look at the misery!

The Night Porter

"All the lonely people. Where do they all come from?"

Left-handed belt store

Got him on that one. But, as a bonafide left-hander, I can say the issue does arise when you have been given a belt with a buckle which has an inscription on it. Although when the writing is upside down, I can read it a lot more easily. Yet this trivial belt direction humor does show we left-handers learn quickly to adapt to a right-hand world. The upside is we end up somewhat ambidextrous.


We've got a wonderful array of character types here: a sailor, a maiden aunt, a housewife, some businessmen, an elderly gentleman farmer, and people snoring comfortably in the back. This reminds me of the wonderful scene from It Happened One Night when all the bus passengers sing "The Man on the Flying Trapeze." It's a real slice of life, and I absolutely love this picture.

That surreal quality

I notice someone's left hand holding the flash at the left side of the image ... Ms. Bubley must have enlisted a passenger to hold the flash and aim it rearwards. Either that or she had an assistant traveling with her. Either way, that's a very tight situation going on there, and sort of creates that surreal quality of contrasts. I can also imagine that she and her camera might have displaced at least two of those persons standing in the aisle? Not a natural-looking scene!

[Esther seems to have made frequent use of floodlights and assistants. - Dave]


I don't know who's more distressed, the sailor or the woman sitting next to him.

[They're in different rows. - Dave]

Act 1

It really looks like the promotional still for a movie.
Talk about life imitating art.


Grandma Walton has a front row seat.

Cast of Characters

This is a very disturbing photo. Very Hitchcock or Twilight Zone.


Reversed negative or the dude in the vest has a left handed belt.

[So where would s Southpaw go to buy a "left-handed belt"? - Dave]

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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