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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORTH TUSCANY COAST, 1948

From the Gang at Work: 1921

From the Gang at Work: 1921

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Manning, 617 Colorado Building." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

At least it doesn't say

"From His Grateful Employees"

Freemason

The arrangement on top of the mirror (with a G in the center) is a masonic seal, so the decedent was likely a Mason.

The contest

It seems that when a person dies, a competition immediately erupts among acquaintances and family to see who can send the most elaborate floral decoration to adorn the casket. All you have to do is call a florist, lay out money, and your condolences are displayed via lavish vegetables in the form of wreaths, and the like. It's easy. You don't have to give any thought to it, so remembering anything notable about the deceased, or expressing heartfelt sentiment, can be left to the preacher. You give him a tip. As for the poor dead person, what do they care? Not a jot. It's a funny custom in this culture and I don't get it. When I croak I hope people will actually expend a bit of effort to remember something we shared. With luck it will be a good memory, but even if it is bad I prefer it over oceans of witless, but mandatory floral extravaganzas.

Due rites

Out of respect, let's not leave Manning's death unremarked. At least people missed this person enough to send big piles of flowers.

Hope for the future

We always take up a collection and send flowers at the place where I work. There's already a kitty started for the big day when the boss kicks the bucket.

Truth dawns on Cops

The evil mastermind behind all those gangland killings - Freddie the Florist.

Such a shame

He (or she) just barely got a glimpse of the Roaring Twenties!

[As we can see, it's a he. - Dave]

Fair Thee Well

The ultimate retirement party theme! Bad sign if you're the guest of honour!

From the Gang at Work?

You're killin' me.

In the midst of life

There is just something very demoralizing about this image, even beyond the subject matter. Those vast banks of gray flowers, perhaps. Something of a memento mori effect.

And that looks as though it may be a steel casket, which I believe was still a relative rarity in the early '20s.

I am not crying

It's my allergies that are acting up!

Colorado Building

Here's the outside.

Fragrant funerals

I was four when my grandmother died and in those days, the funerals were at the home of the deceased. She was in repose in her living room for three days and two nights and the scene was similar to this, although not as elaborate. Since we were also staying at her house around the clock, I have never been able to forget the strong sweet smell of flowers that filled the house, most especially the carnations. Even to this day, the smell of carnations takes me back there, reminding me of that funeral in every minute detail. Off the subject, my son was in Queens, N.Y. at the cemetery for the burial of John Gotti and said there were at least three or four huge full-size vans filled with incredible floral arrangements. Van Gogh was smothered with sunflowers. What else do you wanna know?

Don't forget to write

Either the gang at work are sad to see him go, or they're celebrating like mad.

Press Corpse

George H. Manning is listed in the November 1921 Congressional Directory as a member of the White House Press Corps representing the Richmond News-Leader and Roanoke Times, both at 617 Colorado Building.

However, he continued authoring articles into the '20s and '30s, so I'm guessing he is not the coffin-dweller, but perhaps the one who commissioned the photograph.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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