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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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Almost Teens: 1959

Almost Teens: 1959

I'd be turning 13 later in the year, and so presumably would most of my 7th grade classmates. Typically though, we see variations in the state of puberty onset. I can't speak for the dog, who I imagine was some neighborhood mutt who stopped by for the laughs. Two of the guys have the garb and coiffure of typical "bad boys" of the era - back then we called them JDs - but these were more like wannabes. One is smugly displaying an empty pack of Benson and Hedges cigarettes he'd found - or at least that's the story. Chance - or possibly some attractive force emanating from the patterns - seems to have gathered the check-shirt boys into an eye-warping cluster. Also, one-in-every-crowd guy has star position.

I'm in the sweater standing next to our teacher, who was not only my first male one but the first to engage me intellectually. A man of varied interests, he fascinated me with his lectures - much of which he'd write out on the blackboard for us to copy while he spoke extemporaneously, occasionally punctuating it with flashes of his wry and ironic wit. There was an upright piano in the classroom from which he led us in sing-alongs of old songs - "Red Sails in the Sunset" was one of his favorites. One day, coming back from recess, one of the guys in class sat down at it and started pounding out the "Peter Gunn" riff. I was mightily impressed.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Winner of the Future Hottie Contest

the brunette in the center of the second row, right in front of the guy with the big grin next to the JD wannabes. Note that he's giving the traditional kind of middle school accolade to beauty, with his "V" sign.

I was 12 in that year. No-one had pigtails then, as I recall, but if they had I'm sure we would have pulled them.


I am really impressed by the little blonde in a dark sweater, right in the middle of the picture. She looks poised and self-confident. Anyway, life seemed much more beautiful back then, didn't it?

The "sign"

I've adjusted the levels on a screenshot of just the sign and believe it to be a cigarette tin from Benson & Hedges. The scan quality doesn't quite give me enough detail to be worth posting here though.

[It's a paper box. - Dave]

Good call Dave, thanks.

Across the decades

Shorpy himself would fit right into this photo - in fact, he bears a slight resemblance to the JD on the right.

They might be (Redwood) Giants

What a difference a year would make.

Heh heh heh

The wide beaming optimistic grin on that kid's face, the one between the last checked shirt and the first JD, warmed my heart. Then I saw your blow up of WHY he's wearing a wide beaming optimistic grin. Still warms my heart, just for a different reason. (And thanks for reminding me OF the term "JD"; I'm gonna get a lot of use out of bringing THAT back!)

Young confident human faces

Just joined the site so I could say WHAT A GREAT PICTURE and how touching it is - I'm about five years younger than that group - how times have changed - I hope people are equipped to cope with whatever times they have to live in.

And in 1979, I would have been 13 and in seventh grade

So, as the song goes, the beat goes on.

However, from the picture, I have the the hotties I would have been interested in.

The brunette right in front of TT
The girl fourth from the right, back row
The second from the right girl in the sundress

In the garage

Looks like a young Weezer lineup on the right side of the second row from the top.


Here's the doggie.

A proud Cadette

Top row, third from the right. As a 7th grader she's midway through the Cadette level of Girls Scouts, and she must enjoy Scouting because she's proudly wearing her neckerchief.


Something I just noticed:

Skirting the Dress Code

Sundresses at school? Those two girls must have been junior temptresses with their no collars and exposed shoulders. Yes, boys of '59, they knew what they were doing.

Vietnam Era

It just struck me that these boys would have come of age as things were really getting serious in Vietnam. I would bet that there are at least a couple who served, and probably also some who protested against it. These kids were facing a few great years, followed by some very difficult ones.

What's the scoop

on the character holding the sign. I figure he either went to jail or became a millionaire.

Looking Fine

What an awesome pic! You are rocking that sweater, I must say!

Awesome pic!

Thanks for an incredible pic. I remember the JD terminology.
Amazing how I was a freshman in high school at 13 (NYC) and
you guys were in seventh grade. I absolutely love the DOG!!
Look at that smile!! Again, thank you so very much for sharing.

Where are they now?

Does every 7th grade photo in 1959 in North America look exactly the same?


You are right, the dog looks like he's really pleased that you all came to be in his picture. Perfect.

The hotties

Whenever I see pictures like this, I always wonder which kids were the popular and/or good looking ones back then. I look at my own yearbooks and, with enough distance, recognize that the kids who were good looking were never the ones that were almost never considered good looking at the time.

So, which ones were the hotties?

[You lost me at the second never. - Dave]

OK, Romeo

Which of those hotties did you have your eye on, and what became of her?

Where's Red?

The third girl from the right,(the one with the large white beads) has to be a redhead. Look at all those freckles and that tousled hair!

Life goes on

I am almost exactly 10 years younger than you -- turned 13 in April '69. And oh, how the world had changed!

And then 10 years after THAT, how it had changed again. By that time (1979) I was married for almost two years.

Life is relentless like that.

American Pie

This brings me back to 1957, when I was in the seventh grade. Some of the guys in my class were born with the right hair for a deluxe DA. Not me, I was ahead of my time with uncooperative curly hair, which I hated.

Buddy Holly & The Crickets and American Bandstand were on TV, which we all rushed home to watch every afternoon. That was the source of our culture.

I guess tterrace, after February 3, 1959, your class had to settle for "Red Sails in the Sunset."


I was exactly 12 years old in 1959. I don't think we were allowed to wear dungarees to school in western New York. Even though it was a public school. Other than that though, any one of these students would have fit right in to my school. And props to the young man holding the little sign, for the goofiest yet endearing look on his face.

The Challange of Teaching

Fresh out of my undergrad degree and waiting for my first full time job to start I signed up as a substitute teacher in the Broward County, Florida, school system. I spent about a week working in a junior high. Like trying to control a nuclear reaction with pure willpower. Especially remember an art class working with paper mache.

["Challange"? I'll bet! - Dave]

Full size?

Can I view the full size image?

[Click the photo. - Dave]

Seventh Grade Tweens

The most challenging time of a youngster's life and the most challenging grade for a teacher, if my experience is any indication. The girls usually mature a little faster than the boys and that seems to be the case here. Lucky for you to have had a good (male) teacher. Was he Native American or Hispanic by any chance?

The dog is posed better than most of the boys.

SHORPY OLD 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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