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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Moving to Florida: 1956

Moving to Florida: 1956

Taken at the end of December in Arlington, Virginia, as we hauled our belongings behind our 1950 Dodge, heading to our new home in West Palm Beach. Image is from a Kodachrome slide, taken by my grandfather. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Re: re: Re: Kodachrome

Once again tterrace proves that he's the Master of Imagery.

re: Re: Kodachrome

Here's my stab at Kodachrome-izing timeandagainphoto's +55 shot.

Re: Kodachrome

I thought I'd mess around a bit in Photoshop to take a crack at approximating Kodachrome for EQJohnson in the shot. Don't think I made it.

National Trailer Rental

is now National Trailer Leasing. You can see its trailers behind tractor trucks all over the county! We rented a trailer from them to move the other way, from Southern California to the Northwest back in 1963. I was in the third grade.


Comparing timeandagainphoto's very helpful shot with the original makes me yearn once again for that wonderful emulsion!


I figured I'd swing by today and take a shot from the same perspective (below). It's looking southwest from in front of 2121 N. Quebec Street.

JohnZ14 - while I was there, I thought your car may have been parked in next to or across the street from your house or that of your grandfather, so I took shots of those in case you were interested to see what they looked like today (they appear to be old enough to have been around then). The brown house is 2120 (just out of the frame behind and to the right of the trailer) and the grey house is 2121 (directly behind the photographer).

The Grapes of Wrath

in living color!


Notice the California plate on the trailer. It's been around the block a few times.

This is Cherrydale

Rosslyn is several miles east, across the Potomac from Georgetown. I-66 is a couple of miles from here, and construction did not impact Cherrydale directly. I lived near this intersection of Quincy and Lee Highway/Old Dominion Drive for over 20 years, and it looks strangely much as it did in 1956, as one can see from Google street view.

Lee Highway

Much of Lee Highway still looks as if it's in mid-century time warp. The same can be said for Route 1. It always seems interesting to me that a place of such wealth can have shabby looking main thoroughfares.

Downtown Cherrydale

The round-windowed "house" is indeed an old church - St. Agnes, which has moved up a block. The intersection is essentially the same today, most of the old buildings have been remodeled but are still there. When it snows you can squint and pretty easily pretend it's the 1950s.

Mom taking a trailer

Props to your mother pulling a trailer with only your little sister with her. My grandmother would have, but my mom nor my wife would ever attempt such a feat.

They're Registered

The most evocative thing is this picture for me is the "Registered Rest Room" sign at the Texaco station. You could stop with confidence if you saw that.

I thought I recognized this

I used to live in this neighborhood from 1994 to 2003. Neat to see how it looked 40 years prior to my being there. Nothing like Kodachrome film too.

Car Paint and Rust

A picture right out of my childhood, and it seemed to me autos did age a lot more quickly then. When I reached the age of cognition, my family's 1954 Ford sedan also appeared aged compared to other cars on the road (maybe because automobile styles were rapidly changing in the late 1950s, and definitely because of the quality of auto finishes then, which oxidized quickly and lost their luster without constant waxing and polishing). JohnZ14's mother certainly was a woman of great fortitude to make the trek to Florida on her own with a 5 year old in tow in the days before interstates, fast food restaurants, and rest areas!

Not Only Lack of Mirror

The trailer only has one brake light on the driver's side.

Moving to Florida

I was thinking we had my brother's parakeet traveling with us, on this move to Florida. I'll have to check on this.

Second the New England comment

Other than the wealth of classic Detroit iron, and the Texaco "banjo" sign (the last of which were phased out by the early '80s, as I recall), this could easily be Danbury, Connecticut, in the '90s, when I lived there.

As for braking power: I wasn't around in '56, but is it possible the trailer had an inertia brake?

Postwar chrome and brakes

The problem with immediate postwar chrome was a lack of nickel for the base coat, which was all being put into jet engines. Fortunately by the time they got around to making my 1951 MG saloon they seem to have sorted it and the chrome is still in excellent condition. Some late-40s MGs had black painted headlights because of the impossibility of chrome plating them.

When I see cars of this period pulling heavy trailers and caravans, I wince. The brakes on my car are (still) awful and I can't believe that they were considered an improvement on pre-war brakes.

On the other hand it was probably still possible to drive long distances at a steady 50 mph without gathering a queue of irate traffic behind.


This just proves that if you don't know something's impossible it can be done in spite of it. That '50 Dodge with its 103 HP 230 cubic inch (3.7 litre) flathead six had all it could do to move itself empty, let alone with a thousand or more pounds added! Its Fluid-Drive transmission was one of the most inefficient drivetrains extant, with lots of slippage in all ranges. Maintaining even 50 MPH with that load would have required the pedal to the floorboard constantly with no reserve at all!

Thought it was New England

Take away the cars, and you really couldn't tell if it was 1956 if you lived here in New England. Texaco uses the exact same logo as does Firestone. The storefronts and the houses in the back would all be right at home here in 2010 New England.

Great Photo

Mal Fuller is exactly correct about the war-related problems with auto chrome! Also, base coat, clear coat paint started around the mid 1980s I believe, so Simoniz ruled the day! (note: the blurry black car above the green Olds is a 55 Pontiac Chieftain).

They don't make them like they used to.

I doubt any modern family sedan could pull that load that far.

The rest of the story

From what I can remember, car paint did not hold its shine very long in those days and rust was a big problem. Our 1950 Dodge (only 6 years old) seemed very old to me as a child.

You're right that side mirrors were not standard in those days. It truly is amazing that no extended mirrors were required for towing that trailer - or, if they were, we never were stopped for breaking the law. Many things that are standard today, were once options - even turn signals.

We were a family of FIVE and my mother was pregnant (but we kids did not know that). A few months earlier my mother had hauled another trailer of family belongings to our new home. She used our 1956 Plymouth for that trip and took my 5-year-old sister with her. My father stayed home to work and to watch my other sister and me.

Two tone Olds in danger

Looks to me like that two tone Oldsmobile directly ahead is in mortal danger. I recall that the brakes of the time were not altogether that impressive, and there is a bit of ice here and there.

For better or worse

The house with the round window is actually the back of a church. Based on its appearance on streetview, it looks freshly-painted and well-maintained. The dry cleaner building has lost all of its charm, though.

Delivery Truck

To the right of the Cleaners is a two-toned brown and beige delivery truck. My dad's company had a whole fleet of those in two shades of blue with their logo on both sides -- Dolly Madison Cakes. The trucks took fresh commercial bakery products to grocery stores all over their areas, working out of a network of "thrift stores" in cities and towns of all sizes. The thrift stores were small company-owned stores that sold day-old and surplus baked goods; pretty much the "outlet" stores of their day. But the core of their operation was the retail distribution. And the design of those delivery trucks, like the one seen here, were brought back in the last decade in cars like the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Chevy HHR small truck.

None of which has anything to do with this photo. Except that seeing that delivery truck made me think of it. Thanks for all the great memory-joggers Shorpy provides!

55 Years Later

The drycleaner is still there as are a gas station and the homes like the one with the round window (you have to move the view a bit to find that one).

View Larger Map

Norman Rockwell eat your heart out

Doesn't look at all like a photograph. This looks like a painting, particularly the way the gas station ends up on top of the frame and the road perspective leads into the center.

Lee Highway

Lower Cherrydale or Upper Roslyn. That section of Lee Hwy had the hills and houses uphill on the South side of the road. Between I-66 and new construction they are all gone now.

Careful there

Was wondering if you had extended mirrors for towing a trailer, but your Dodge doesn't have even a regular side mirror! (Although, as we can see from the other cars, side-view mirrors were hardly standard equipment back then, along with arm rests, dome lights and other things we take for granted today.)

Korean Chrome

Material shortages brought on by the Korean War adversely affected the quality of the chrome on automobile trim in 1951-52-53. I believe that the underlying copper plating was what was lacking.

Outta Dodge, er, Arlington.

I love this color photo, as a product of the 70's myself I was always sure before me everything was black and white.

I really want to take all these cars and put a buffer to them. I notice the paint is a bit duller, wonder if the old paint had clear coats back then.

Anyone know where this is in town for a contemporary picture?

Remarkably same

These buildings on Lee Highway look very familiar. Old Dominion Cleaners is still around.

Main Street 1956

I'm glad Dave moved this to the main gallery. It shows what a typical commercial district looked like at the time, before the storefronts got blandly "modernized." Also, look what this kind of climate does to cars: the 1952 Chevy on the left is only 4 years old, but it already looks like a wreck. The Ford at the right is in sad shape, too.

Go South, Young Man

Your photograph says to me: Snow all around, you are South-bound: good choice!

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