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Pete and El: 1944

Pete and El: 1944

February 1944. The folk singer Pete Seeger entertaining Eleanor Roosevelt, honored guest at a Valentine's Day party to mark the opening of the United Federal Labor Canteen in Washington. View full size. Medium-format safety negative by Joseph Horne for the Office of War Information.


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The ghost of Woody

Apart from the fascinating subject matter, it is interesting to note that the background cartoons on the wall (or the kraft paper applied to the wall) were very likely done by Woody Guthrie himself. Apart from being "America's Balladeer, Woody was a very accomplished cartoonist and sign painter. You can see a little of a sign in the right section of the cartoon, with a few of his neat letters. Of course he was famously buddies with Pete Seeger, and would have likely been in the same circles, and showing up at the same places. He was noted for sticking up for the little guy, and expressing his hard work and triumphs; hence the cartoon's comical characters, who are trying so hard to exercise. Pete is now 91 and still singing. Hooray!

Integrated Group

The room was integrated not because of Eleanor, but more likely because it was a labor canteen of a progressive CIO union. But Eleanor, as first lady, was making a political statement by attending in segregated Washington.


I love the cartoons on the wall behind.

Eleanor looks very happy.

Valentine's Day

Celebrated at February 13th, according to the Washington Post? Or did they celebrate it on the nearby Sunday in those days?

[Are all Christmas parties on December 25? - Dave]

Labor Canteen

Washington Post, Feb 12 1944

"The Labor Canteen, sponsored by the United Federal Workers of America, CIO, will be opened at 8 p.m. tomorrow at 1212 18th st. nw. Mrs. Roosevelt is expected to attend at 8:30 p.m."

Labor Canteen

I'm adding this canteen to my list of places to visit when I get my time machine. As a longtime labor activist, it makes me proud to see the progressive values this organization espoused at a time when many social clubs were segregated. To go there and hear the incomparable Pete Seeger would be a dream come true.

Pete Seeger

One of our greatest Americans. A courageous, compassionate man and an incredible songwriter.

Interesting Mix

This is a fascinating picture because during WW2 everything was still segregated -- so having Colored soldiers and sailors mixed in socially must have been because of Eleanor.

[Not so. - Dave]

The Banjo

This was before he started using the longer-necked banjo capo'd up. To me, you say "Pete Seeger" and one of the things that comes to mind is that long-neck banjo, seven frets to the fifth peg. Amazing to see him so young -- he was nearly 20 years older than this by the time I was born. And I'm sure many don't realize he was in the Army.

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