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Meet the Babcocks: 1942

September 1942. Rochester, New York. "The Babcocks, a typical American war worker's family." About whom we will learn so much in the coming days. Large format negative by Ralph Amdursky, Office of War Information. View full size.

September 1942. Rochester, New York. "The Babcocks, a typical American war worker's family." About whom we will learn so much in the coming days. Large format negative by Ralph Amdursky, Office of War Information. View full size.


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Speaking as another youngest son, one who never passed up a chance to get in the picture, one with an often doting and indulgent mother, the pose tells me something entirely different. I can well imagine her introducing him as "And this is my baby, Earl," for the rest of her life.

Stop squirming

From the look on the young one's face, it's obvious he wants to be somewhere else. And from the way Mom has her arm entwined around his, she's making sure he sits still for the picture.

Another Safety-boy here

Can it really be over 50 years ago.
I still remember the times to report
8:30 - 11:40 - 12:35 and 3:10, unbelievable.

Family spread

As a younger mom I find the 6-7 year spread between each child to be quite a significant time gap. Was that normal for the time period? Could there have been child losses between kids that would account for it or is this just an unusual spread?

Crossing Patrol Belt

Otis & Jim, We had the same belts as elementary school crossing guards as senior sixth graders. The patrol staff had 3" wide white canvas shoulder belts and the patrol captain had a leather shoulder belt. And we all forgot to mention the snazzy tin badges that were on the shoulder straps of our belts. I guess we came from a more formal regimented time. It says much about the self restraint we possessed that we didn't let such power and authority early in life color our judgement in later years.

Paul, patrol captain, retired.

The Family

You know after looking at the family portrait they kind of look like the Babcocks.

Which one is Chester?

He'll be the one in the Van Heusen shirt.


Mom and Dad look so much alike it's a little creepy. Funny how often you see this in married folk.

[What's interesting to me is how many couples from this era look like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. -Dave]

Ring and lapel pin

Dad is an Elk.

School Crossing Patrol Belt

Otis, I wore one of those school safety-patrol belts as a first- and second-grader, but the one I wore was wider and made of yellow canvas, as I remember it. I was so proud of that.

Funny how those memories are brought back by these discussions! I hadn't thought of that in many years.

Little boy's belt

When I loooked at the belt it reminded me of a school patrolboy's belt. When I was in elementary school, many years ago, schools had patrolboys to help ensure safety. They wore a Sam Browne-style belt.

Fife's Company

The man reminds me of Barney from the Andy Griffith Show.

Ditto Maggie

I had the exact same reaction--that's Maggie Smith!

I want to learn more.

I am pretty much the same age as the little kid. I can really relate to those times.

That Belt Has To Go

The seated young man, who in the Patriotism of the WW2 era, is dressed in what appears to be a military style outfit complete with the Sam Brown belt. Although we know better he could be mistaken for a then current member of the Hitler Youth.

Could They Be?

With the ages adjusted for the three year difference; Howard (43), Mary (41), Shirley (21), Howard, Jr. (13), and Earle (7) listed in the 1940 Federal Census? Howard the elder is listed as a machinist in the "Gun Industry" which sounds promising for a story about "a typical war worker's family."

Why Sam?

I'll tactfully ignore the unfortunate pockets on Mrs. Babcock's dress and ask a question: Is that a uniform of some sort that Junior's wearing? It includes a Sam Browne belt complete with the shoulder strap.

I hope in the promised additional photos we get to see a better view of that ring that Mr. Babcock is wearing.

The Boys

I wonder if the boys ended up serving in the armed forces in later wars? The youngest would have been of draft age during the onset of the Vietnam war and the oldest during the Korean conflict.

Compare the families

I could not help but notice the vast economic difference between this obviously well-off family and the family of dirt-poor white migrants from Edinburg, Texas just a couple of days ago. We are told to "bloom where we are planted" but in this case it appears that a heavily industrialized area offers a much better quality of life. There is only four years between these two photos. Topic for discussion - rural vs city living.

Separated at Birth?

Is that Dame Maggie Smith before she became an expat or is it her long lost twin?

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