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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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Christmas: 1951

Christmas: 1951

My sister and brother at the house in Merchantville, NJ, during Christmas in 1951. My brother still owns the Lionel trains seen under the tree. Looks like it was a good year for the kids. View full size.

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Fatal Tinsel

I don't know when the custom started, but the tinsel on that tree is almost certainly made from lead. Our family used it all through the '50s until one year my favorite cat -- eight toes on each front paw and seven on the back -- ate a bunch of it and died a week later. I also still have my Lionel train.

Ignore the Wallpaper

In all the family photos from that era in that house, the wallpaper grabbed center stage! Let's see, my brother was 3 and my sister was 5 in the above picture. I was still nine years away, not to be seen until 1960. It seems that all the good kiddie riding vehicle were either before my time, like the above car, or after I out grew them, like the "Big Wheel." All I remember was my tricycle.

Test Drive

The neighbor kid got a car just like that for Christmas one year (1958?) and I got a bicycle. I was royally jealous of the car until he let me drive it. Then I realized you couldn't go very far or fast, because the pedals were a clumsy mechanism.

After that I loved my bicycle!


Cute sister, SharkNose! You have a current picture?

Love the car

I had a fire chief car, which looked very similar to that one. It had a bell for a hood ornament. I pedaled many a mile around my neighborhood in it. I'm afraid there is no one left who could tell me when I got that car, but I'd guess 1950.

The car

I was so struck with the wallpaper that I failed to notice the car. My stepsiblings had a pedal car each. I don't know the make of them. I do remember they were solidly built.

My brother, ever trying to exceed himself in toy destructiveness (he fed string into my record player and flour pasted my walking doll), decided one day to focus on the cars.

He hauled them upstairs and tossed them out my bedroom window. "Geronimo!" CRASH. "Geronimo!" CRASH. Finally it occurred to him to tie a rope around the steering wheels and haul them back up through the window so he didn't have to drag them up the stairs.

Surprisingly, those cars survived the 6 or 7 drops and were saved when my father hauled my brother to his room by his ear for a week's incarceration.


That is some wallpaper! However, the carpet is very much like the one we had in the living room for many years -- until my dad replaced it with mustard yellow shag.

Didn't have to say "cheese"

I'd have an S.E.G. like that on my face if I'd been your brother, too. I would have killed to have one of those. But, living as we did on the side of a hill, there was barely enough room to make a u-turn with my trike.

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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