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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

Hammer Time: 1926

Hammer Time: 1926

Washington, D.C., circa 1926. "Miss Tomlin's School." Run by Miss Queenie Ada-Maye Tomlin. National Photo Co. Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

Not quite so interested

At least one kid doesn't seem to be applying himself with the dedication of his peers. The one in the center, with his legs half-crossed and his hammer poised over nothing in particular seems to be thinking, "This is dumb. I'm bored."

Plastic Wood

About 25 years later, my shop teacher, Mr. Belcher would tell me "Urcunina, Plastic wood is for mistakes in the wood, not your mistakes."

Where's Stymie?

This looks for all the world like a still from an Our Gang short.

Looming in the background

The large brick and stone building visible behind the others is the back end of St. Matthew's Cathedral, which still stands and is a magnificent structure.

You can see the pair of arched windows of the Cathedral just above the roof line of the two-story brick structure behind the tree. St. Matt's fronts on nearby Rhode Island Ave NW, with the back abutting structures in the 1700 block of N Street. Many of the fine old townhouses still stand along this block of N Street, although they have been repurposed as law offices, the Tabard Inn and so on.

The site of number 1758 is now occupied by a modern glass office box. A small brick structure, looking much like the altered remains of the carriage house in the photo, with the little second floor window, still stands -- bricked up and forlorn.

[There's an interesting two-pronged alleyway in back, St. Matthew's Court. - Dave]


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Belaboring the Obvious

These children did not make any of the furniture they are "painting" and hammering on. That is the furniture of the play yard. And they are play-acting that they are working on it.

I mean seriously, have you ever seen a five-year-old paint a chair without getting one drip on his clothes or the ground? They have a bucket of paint brushes to play with, but no paint.

The little house may have been a project made by older children with the supervision of the adults. And the "chairs" that are made of cut melon crates (the boy on the far right with glasses has one) may have been child projects. But the main shelf, table, bench, and chairs are not.

Love it

Each kid seems to be doing something they are interested in, some working together, some working alone.

Mrs. Tomlin's School

According to "A Handbook of American Private Schools" published in 1926 by Porter Sargent of Boston:

Miss Tomlin's School, 1758 N Street, Washington, is a day school for little children, offering instruction from kindergarten through the seventh grade. There are special music and French departments, and afternoon activities are featured. Miss Q. Tomlin is principal.

It also has a notation of "$200" which was probably the tuition.

Interestingly, the National Photo Company collection also contains the image below of the exterior of "Mrs. Tomlin's School" listing the address as 1800 19th Street, NW. It is unclear why there is a discrepancy between the address listed on the photograph which was probably taken at the same time as the one above and the address listed in the handbook. The building at 1800 19th Street NW still exists and is in extremely good condition.

[The photo below is from 1921; in 1923 the Washington Post still listed the school's address as 1800 19th Street. After Miss Tomlin married the Rev. Alfred Cheetham in 1926, it moved to an Episcopal rectory in St. Mary's City, Maryland. - Dave]

Miss Queenie never noticed

... that the two boys on the left appeared to have traded not only one sock each, but one SHOE each, too. Those impish little scamps!

Awesome socks!!

I don't know how much help these kids got nailing together these projects, but they are way ahead of what kids could do today.

 
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