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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Big Easy: 1935

The Big Easy: 1935

October 1935. "Scene in Jackson Square, New Orleans." 35mm nitrate negative by Ben Shahn for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5


Glad that another commenter mentioned the benches in Jackson Square are still the same. It's always a good spot for a rest & people watching.

Ma and Pa Kettle

do New Orleans.

An affluent gent, and the travelling saleswoman

The Gent has a lean and hungry look, and a nice fedora. A pricey hat by the width of the band. Expensive spectacles, and a nice silk cravat, of a pattern I do not recognize as one belonging to an affinity group. His tie is not too well knotted so he probably did the chore himself. A spring tie bar instead of a tac, and a lapel pin, probably service connected. Good suit, likely HS&M, which he has not troubled to slack at the knees. So he will either wind up with baggy knees - or he is affluent enough not to care. Expensive shoes, well broken in, in need of a shine. Carrying what appears to be an art deco pipe so is probably a smoker. Socks typical of the pre-lycra era, baggy. Probably a respectable merchant, waiting on the streetcar.

The woman is reasonably well dressed, with the white blouse and dark suit of the saleswoman. Not too particular about posture, or in wearing what passed for upper story support at the time. Notice she is wearing pantalettes instead of a slip, and typical silk hosiery. The shoes were not chosen to match the suit, so she probably is not worried about her feet being seen at work. She's carrying a typical salesman's case, which could be a "pitchman's kiester" but I see no "tripes" to go with it. She could be a street vendor, a pitchwoman, but it's more likely she is employed as sales staff at one of the many nearby stores. La Maison, perhaps.

Whatever her position, she is certainly interested in the man, so it's a reasonable guess she is single.


Some mighty fine shoes on the old battleax.


I keep coming back to this photo. Who are they? What are they doing? What's she got in that case? And why can't I afford terrific glasses like he's wearing?

More than anything, though, these two make me think of a half-dozen different Flannery O'Connor stories. He's a little bit too well-dressed, but otherwise, they'd fit right in.

No Comment

This picture is begging for a comment and I feel that I should. But I am at a loss for words.

Wimp & wife

This has to be Mr & Mrs Wallace Wimple, on vacation from Wistful Vista.


The geezer's seen a lot over the years and views life with realistic suspicion. Mom's seen a lot too, but she don't care.

What's the geezer got in his hands?

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

These two didn't get the memo.


"Act natural, they're watching us."

Not that easy

What a picture - it begs a caption.

Her: "Hey sailor, wanna have some fun?"
Him: "I'm not that easy!"

Emotional Bookends

She seems either laid back and calm, or perhaps just worn-down by her companion's agitation. Nervous Norvus, on the other hand, seems to have his engine running well above idle. He sits there striking match after match just to drop them near his feet. Judging by his glare, he may go postal at any minute. Yikes.

3/4 Century later

Park bench in Jackson Sqaure recently.


Perhaps these characters inspired some of George Booth's cartoons.

First thing that popped into my mind was

I wonder if this is Mr. & Mrs. Jack Sprat.


She knows she is the bee's knees and she knows what she wants. Today it seems she wants him! Poor fellow looks a bit nervous, doesn't he?

Close encounters of the weird kind

I've had the pleasure of strolling Jackson Square several times. The sights are always entertaining to say the least. However,on our last visit we encountered the Naked Cowboy. My wife was amused. I on the other hand was scarred for life emotionally by the experience.

Run, Forrest, Run

Would you care for a chocolate?

Lean Times

Sort of a Jack Sprat genre perhaps.

All dressed up and nowhere to go

They seem very smart to just be hanging around on a park bench. Although they are similarly dressed, they don't seem to be together, given the amount of space between them, maybe just a sign of the times?

Owww. owww..

What's in the box?

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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