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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

We Love a Parade: 1939

We Love a Parade: 1939

September 1939. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "Boys watching Letter Carriers Convention Parade." 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon. View full size.

 

Rough cut

Something that stands out to me about this photo is, the boy's pants are ragged, but, he's clean and his shirt is neatly ironed. As my grandma used to say, "it's no sin to be poor, but it is a sin to be dirty. You can always get a bar of soap."

On the other foot

Slit-pants seems to have a shoe on his left foot.

[Actually, the kid is bilaterally shoeless. - Dave]

Now we just cuss at them

My mom taught me to darn socks in the sixties, and I was pretty proud of that thrifty skill. We didn't have the classic darning egg, but used a light bulb as a base. I still use the same technique for mending small holes in sheets and the like. As for socks, now when I see a hole in one, I say, "Darn sock!" and throw it away.

Contemporary Font Style

Amazing how font styles, as on the sign in the distance, change over time. That font style was fairly contemporary for the 1930s, and wouldn't have looked out of place in the 1960s-70s. It isn't a font style you would likely to see in the first decade of the 20th century.

As for those slit pants, put that photo in a current ad campaign (distressed/photoshopped to make it look current & hip, of course), and slit pants would be the new "cool."

I had a brother

I grew up in the sixties, and my older brother always looked like this. We weren't poor. My mom was a tad thrifty, and play clothes were nothing to be fussy about. He was grubby, torn jeans, barefoot often - it was because he played very hard. You can tell by their tidy haircuts and clean hair that they're well cared for.

Be Careful Shorpy

Showing the well-worn garments of these boys will start yet another new trend in fashion of "extreme shabbiness" taken to the nth degree. Whatever the reason, these clothes were what they had to wear. Today when I see celebs who make $20 million per movie or record deal, I am often fascinated by their carefully ripped, stretched, shrunken, patched and stained clothing. And what is it with the knitted, woolen hats that so many "stars" think makes them look cool? In their case, they CHOOSE to look like ragpickers although I'm thinking these kids did not have a choice. Still, a parade DID present some entertainment and create happiness for lots of people. I used to like them until I hit fifty or so and then realized how ridiculous it was to watch people march in formation to music. Maybe its just cranky old me. And you rotten kids stay off my lawn.

Holey terror

The mom of the center kid could just be resigned to the fact that he's a "holey" terror, whose clothes would quickly wind up in shreds no matter what. Plus it's still the Depression, and you had to wrench the last bit of usability out of everything. And it's probably Saturday, and who know what Junior would be getting up to with his goony friends all day long; why let him ruin good clothes? Speaking of getting the most out of stuff, remember Mom darning socks? Do people still do that much these days?

I can relate

My father worked for the railroad (1950s). We were poor. Back then you lived in the shacks they provided and made do with the little you had. All of my clothes were handed down from my older brother or donations. I was very small and thin for my age. I had to fold over the waistband on my pants a large amount and my belt went almost twice around my waist. Although not as torn, my pants were heavily mended. Shoes, when I had them, were wrapped in tape to hold them together. Shirts were an option. Dressed as I was, no one ever looked down on me. We may have been poor, but through the eye of a little boy, I never felt so.

The boy in the middle

My impression of this boy was that his pants was an older brother's that mom recycled as play pants for him, as to keep his regular pants good and unripped.

Innocence Lost.

Same time in Berlin thousands were watching troops goose stepping down the Unter den Linden, while the best we could do was muster a ragtag group of letter carriers marching down Main Street.

It's Dennis The Menace!

At first glance I thought the long belt dipping into the back pocket of the boy on the right was a slingshot. Hmmmm, blond hair, cowlick, striped shirt, slingshot in pocket -- it's Dennis the Menace!

That is one raggedy pair of pants on the boy in the middle. He's in his stocking feet, too. Was it poverty? Did his mom just give up on trying to keep his clothes intact? Did he just march (shoeless) to the beat of his own drum?

Parade for the poor kids?

People think they have it tough now. Look at the clothes these boys are wearing.

 
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