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Fourth and Main: 1941

Fourth and Main: 1941

July 4, 1941. "Fourth of July parade in Watertown, Wisconsin." 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Something familiar

Stumbling across this picture on Shorpy was a jolt - seeing as I'm currently sitting in my office on the second floor of that Woolworth's building. The theater is indeed still there...all movies are $3.

Last peaceful July 4th

I love all of the details/ephemera of daily life this picture reveals. The tall lady facing the parade was probably wearing a "maternity dress", judging from the flared jacket she's wearing. Just thinking that some of the older Boy Scouts would probably make it into the war in a few years; hope they made it back.


Old feedsacks are an amazing piece of forgotten American folk culture. Feed companies started bagging their products in reusable brightly printed cotton fabric in 1919, and continued into the 1960s. I discovered the wonderful world of feedsack fabric when I made curtains for my art deco era kitchen. A dazzling variety of beautiful patterns were produced over the years.

Still there

The Woolworth building is still there, although it looks rather less grand today (as the Creative Community Living Services building). The theater next door still seems to be in operation as well:

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Then showing at The Classic

While the name of the movie theater in the back was The Classic, there was nothing classic about the two films on the marquee that day. "Time Out for Rhythm" was a bad musical with a not-so-bad tangent featuring the Three Stooges. "Adventure in Washington" was an effort to recycle the sets from "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," with a poorly-written drama about mischief among Senate page boys. The young star of that film, Gene Reynolds, would go on to write, direct or produce some of the best television episodes, including the first four seasons of M*A*S*H*. The six-time Emmy winner will be 90 years old in April.

Free Material

My mother made dresses for my sister from feed sack material. I see where some busy woman made dresses for all the women and girls in the family on the left.

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