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Christmas in Miami: 1954

      A holiday chestnut worth reheating over the Shorpy Duraflame.
"Christmas 1954." My grandmother Sarah Hall (1904-2000) in her living room in Miami Shores four years before I was born. She made the mantel decoration, which saw service for many years, with Brazilian pepper berries from a big tree in the backyard, mixed with pine cones, all attached to a chicken wire frame. Grandmother, handy with a needle and thread, also made the curtains. She was, needless to say, big on Christmas. 35mm Kodachrome. View full size.

      A holiday chestnut worth reheating over the Shorpy Duraflame.

"Christmas 1954." My grandmother Sarah Hall (1904-2000) in her living room in Miami Shores four years before I was born. She made the mantel decoration, which saw service for many years, with Brazilian pepper berries from a big tree in the backyard, mixed with pine cones, all attached to a chicken wire frame. Grandmother, handy with a needle and thread, also made the curtains. She was, needless to say, big on Christmas. 35mm Kodachrome. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

A holiday chestnut

Definitely worth reheating. We can see this photo has been commented upon for twelve years now, and that it has been presented to us for pleasure and comment in 2011, 2014, 2017, and again now. It brings us together at Christmas, we here in Shorpy-land, and it makes me grateful for this online community of people who take pleasure in this site and who make the effort to express their feelings and knowledge to the rest of us. This year I note those near the bottom in the comments section, back in 2011, who no longer seem to be with us: Vintagetvs, OTY, pattyanne, Born40YearsTooLate, switzarch, CarolMcC. I miss these former Shorpsters, they and stanton_square, Mr. Mel, aenthal, and many others. Some may have given up following the site or stopped commenting, some may have passed on. Thanks to Dave and tterrace for bringing us all together, and best wishes of the season to us all.

Giving today's designers a run for their money

I love your grandmother's aesthetic, beautifully done.

When we aspired to quality

In addition to the elegant items made by Dave's grandmother Hall, her other furnishings reflect her eye for quality. The end table at left has a keyhole, and probably locked. The settee and chair appear to be rosewood. The end table at right has a white marble top, which complements the fireplace mantel. I can't identify any items on the shelves for certain, but they're nice. I suspect the next generation in Dave's family was happy to have these items passed down to them.

Now I'm gonna grouse like the old man I am -- there are several traits young people have today that I like and respect; but I despair that the young people I've encountered have no appreciation for quality furnishings. Anymore, I end up telling them, "If you want a piece of black pressboard furniture, there's an Ikea in Plano. The reason it's so heavy is that's the weight of the glue holding the woodchips together. Solid wood furniture doesn't weigh as much."

Another Photo

I’ve seen other photos of this room, including this one.

Class All the Way

Your grandmother was certainly talented! I also really like the interior colors. With very little adjustment I could live in this decor!


What a beautifully appointed home. And we all know she was the architect of it all.


Lady and decor. We should all be so lucky to have such in our lives.

Two things!

This fascinating photo of a classy person has two elements I find remarkable. First, that built-in shelving and the way the wallpaper (it looks like wallpaper to me) works with it. [The walls are painted textured plaster. - Dave]

The second is the use of color in this room. Not only are the main colors perfect and soothing, but the contrasting colors work so well. For example, the red edging on the drapes and the pale-green fronts on the shelves. Those subtle touches really set off the main colors and add elegance.


Thanks, Dave, for sharing this and for all you do for us!

Classy Christmas !!

Dave, your Grandmother was obviously very talented, and a very classy Lady.The art & style she put into this room is wonderful.

Merry Christmas to all here at Shorpy. Thanks Dave for all you do to allow us to see great pictures like these daily.

Deck the Halls

Glad to know she got to live a long life, another 46 years from then on! A later photo of her would be nice, as well as an early one (wedding, for example)?

Ok, Christmas 1954

Think it’s time this picture gets retired. Looks like many rooms at Christmas I recall back in 1954. Very nice but the gushing comments appear a bit overdone. Hummm wonder way.

[Brilliantly put, although you probably meant "why" and not "way." - Dave]

Grandmother's favorite?

With a second look at your Grandmom's face, while lovely, I sense a strong resolve as well, that would brook no shenanigans from the kids (including grandkids). Or am I wrong and she was a pushover for Dave's charms?

[Grandmother was sugarplums and poinsettias 365 days a year, as all eight of her grandkids would attest. - Dave]

I beg to differ with Carol McC

In the mid-fifties, white walls were not in. That was later, around 1960 or a bit later. Our house had dark walls like this (I was seven in 1955): brown and dark green if I remember rightly.

Fave time of year

The Shorpy Christmas photos have begun! This is my favorite time of year!

One Impressive Lady

What an amazing woman with great talent. I'd love to sit in that room and just take it all in. Tasteful and artistic. A lost art at Christmas.

W O W ! ! ! for the lady. and the photographer?

Impressive!!! everything is in place and looking flawless.
Also, was the lucky husband also the photographer? very nice photo

Impeccable taste

Reminds me of my Nana's house; not only did she have the same bowl as the one on the bottom right shelf, but it also appears that, no matter how sophisticated the decor was, it was never a "Don't Touch!" room, but rather cozy, welcoming and comfortable.

Lovely decor!

A magnificent room (and stark contrast to the wildly colorful and eclecticly overdone Minnesota family I love following here). I bet the rest of the house was equally impressive. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Those drapes!

As someone who has made pinch pleated drapes, I am in awe of your grandmother and her drapes. Wow, what a wonderful job, what a wonderful room, and what an interesting person she must have been.

Class and Beauty

Much less of this today. What a time. Merry Christmas!

Can't beat 35mm Kodachrome

Beautiful classy lady & home. I love the white dipped pinecones. I too have many 35mm slides my grandfather took the colors are so crisp on them when developed into pictures.


I was a month old at the time this photo was taken. I am so impressed with this beautiful room. Seems to me that in that time period, white walls were the norm so she was really going new places with that lovely color. I also like her collection of cranberry glass, especially the pickle caster on the left. Hope it's still in the family. Thanks for sharing, nice to see how things looked at the time I made an appearance.

Your turn

It's great seeing your grandmother, Dave. Now can we Shorpy fans see our Shorpy webmaster?

[We've already seen me. - Dave]

Class act

Dave what a beautiful grandmother and setting. I was born earlier that year. Thanks for all you do and Merry Christmas!

A Beautiful Lady

... who kept an immaculate house.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA


"Big on Christmas' indeed! A very, very Merrye Christmas to all the Shorpy "family"; it's been a fun ride once again, and I look forward to splendid new adventures in 2012.

Stylish Grandmother

Dave some people have it and some don't, your grandmother had plenty. What a beautiful home I especially love the table on our left. We can all see why you love photography this shot may have been your genesis.
Merry Christmas and thanks again for our favorite web site!

Nice Antiques

Merry Christmas, Dave, and let me join the others in admiring your grandmother's great taste and sophisticated decorating talents. That's a smart and very urban color scheme for 1954. The tailored curtains are revivals of a Federal period window treatment, seldom done with this degree of precision. And the antiques are like familiar neighbors to me. Out of curiosity, were they mostly family pieces from up North, or did she collect them? The little sofa and round parlor table are 1860s; the fancy side chair by the fireplace is Boston or Philadelphia, about 1845; the worktable at left is probably late 1830s; and the molded clear flint glass lamp bases are probably Sandwich or Cambridge whale oil lamps of about 1850. Here's a similar pair with their old pewter wick holders still intact.

Pine Cone Thing

She made her own curtains lined in contrasting colors and she also made the amazing mirror surround? I am totally in awe.

Merry Christmas to Dave, the mysterious Ken, and unacknowledged contributors whose photos are buried in the Member Photos Section. Best regards also to Canada, tterrace and the Farkers whose work makes me gasp with laughter.

Thanks, Shorpy!

[Grandmother also made her own clothes. Not to mention togs for the grandkids. And then there was the crocheting -- much crocheting. Shorpy says you're very welcome! -Dave]

Kodachrome mastery

The technical details of this shot interest me. First of all, it looks like it was illuminated by photoflood, with both main and fill lights. The main is indicated by the sharp shadow on the marble of the fireplace; the presence of a fill somewhat off-angle from the main is shown by the double shadows on the bric-a-brac shelf and the pine cone thing around the mirror. The distance of the photofloods was accurately calculated so as not to overwhelm the regular bulbs in the lamps. The white balance is right on, indicating a probable use of Kodachrome Type A, or tungsten-balance photoflood emulsion, ASA 16. Using my trusty Kodak Master Photoguide from 1962, when the original Kodachrome was still available, the exposure calculator for the film and two bulbs at roughly the apparent bulb-to-subject distance here indicates an exposure in the area of f2.8 at 1/5 second or the equivalent. In other words, a carefully set-up shot by someone who knew what he was doing. May even be professional; at the very least, an advanced amateur. (Still, exposure bracketing would have been advisable; do any other shots survive?)

Wow, just wow

Awesome, Dave. Your grandmother was quite a seamstress, decorator, and had great taste in furniture. My grandmother was a great seamstress, too. She sewed clothes, quilts, sleeping bags, doll clothes, costumes, you name it. She had all kind of gadgets, like a eyelet press, for making belts, and a hem marker, a thing that combined a yardstick standing vertically on a base, a bulb and hose, with a container filled with talcum powder. The container slid up and down the yardstick, and when the bulb was squeezed, it would make a nice horizontal line (to mark the hemline) about an inch long. And of course, I enjoyed playing with that.


That's all; just beautiful! Merry Christmas!

Martha Stewart was only thirteen

Your beautiful grandmother was way ahead of her time in creating an exquisite home environment through her own resources of sewing, collecting and impeccable taste. The atmosphere in this room is timeless and the decor is of superior quality and subtle uniqueness, but the sparkling antique crystal and ceramics are showstoppers. The polished marble, shiny mahogany and immaculate order of her living quarters is very impressive. I could never live in a place like this because I'm basically a hopeless slob and have been told by most of my close relatives that because of me "we can't have anything nice." This is nice. And by the way Dave, you are SO YOUNG. I figured you to be about 80 yrs. old up until now, so Shorpy has a long life ahead of it as long as you keep it going. Merry Christmas and thank you for spreading so much happiness around.

Creative and Classy

That is a seriously tasteful room. The tailored window dressing helps to tone down the old style furniture. The subdued red and white decorations and lights with natural elements look almost modern. I absolutely love the fabric on the sofa.

A lovely lady

and a tastefully decorated room!

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