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The Children's Army: 1942

The Children's Army: 1942

Washington, D.C., 1942. "Children playing, aiming sticks as guns." Kodachrome transparency by Louise Rosskam for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Louise Rosskam

My all-time favorite Shorpy photo is one Louise took of Shulman's Market in 1942 (and as I just passed my 15th anniversary as a registered reader, I have seen quite a few photos on this site). Maybe this photo and that one were taken on the same day; certainly the same week.

Bugs were larger back then

Either the screen on the windows were to keep the occasional fowl ball from breaking the glass or they had really huge gnats and mosquitoes. Cool picture of the kids having fun playing outside! I bet they stayed out well past dark, like we did as kids in the early '60s.

[Even if they don't break the glass, those chicken croquettes can make a huge mess! -Dave]

One-third female

The three girls are hanging in there with the six boys, not quite as aggressive, and dressed like ladies, but part of the pack nonetheless. They look determined to see it through on a bright, chilly day. I love how the girl in the plaid jacket and atrocious clashing hat is so tenderly protecting the little strawberry blonde who, in her soiled blue coat, has commandeered a full-size purse.

Oh! The Glory of Kodachrome!

The colors just pop out at you when you enlarge this photo!
I remember showing slides of fall foliage, where the color would almost hurt your eyes.
What a wonderful canvas that film was.

Past Glories

I'm about the same age as commenter ETres, and I recall that we kids always re-enacted only WWII. As noted, there were several great TV series that fired our imaginations, all of them pertaining to that one and only war which seemed legitimate and non-controversial. None of us ever expressed a desire to simulate what was happening in Vietnam. Even at the time it was perceived as being somewhat messy and unworthy of the glorification we reserved for "the Big One." By the end of the decade all military toys were being phased out, but by then we had moved on to other interests.

Girls wear dresses.

No jeans or slacks for girls. I'm not quite as old as these kids, but can remember always wearing dresses, except in summer. Did they think our legs didn't get as cold as those of boys? Well, they did.

Purse snatcher

I'd bet that the little blonde sweetie is holding photographer Rosskam's purse.

Playing Army

This photo is a reminder of when I was about those kids' age in the mid-late 1960s. My favorite TV shows were 12 O'Clock High, Combat!, and The Rat Patrol. Also, the Vietnam War was in the news and on the lips of grown-ups. I was enthralled with it all, so I often spent time outside with my plastic Army helmet and toy guns doing battle with imaginary enemy soldiers and planes or as I'd tell my Mom: "I'm going outside to play Army!"

One funny story from that time: My parents befriended a lady who had daughters my age. She was a native of Germany (a member of Hitler Youth, as most kids were), married a U.S. soldier after the war, then moved to the U.S. Her husband, a career officer in the Army, had recently been killed in Vietnam. Mom and I were visiting at their house. Mom and the lady were sitting in the kitchen as we kids played in the backyard. We must have been "playing Army" because my Mom heard me yelling, "Kill those dirty Krauts!" She got really embarrassed and told me not to say that. Her friend wasn't offended - she just found it amusing.

The Bike's a Trike

Pedal driven front wheel, hard rubber tire, all-steel construction... definitely not a Hot Wheels!

DC Kids

I love this picture.

So much. <3

The bike

The bicycle at the bottom right gave it away for me. No tires, no rubber, which means WWII. Either it was not invented yet or being conserved for the war effort. At first glance thought I thought 50's or 60's until I spotted the bike. Great color for the early 40's!

children at wall in 1942

As an historian, I would like to find the grown up children and pose them as they were in '42. That would be a photo


The shoes, and the knickers.

So Beautiful

Man, these pictures are so good and children are so universal. I had to examine their shoes to verify that it wasn't a contemporary photo.

Back when kids had imaginations....

They don' need no stinkin' Nintendo.

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