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An American Family: 1942

An American Family: 1942

August 1942. "New York. Chinese-American family in their home in Flatbush." Back in Brooklyn with the boy we saw earlier here. Medium-format nitrate negative by Marjory Collins, Office of War Information. View full size.


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Probably not ashes

The item on the left end of the mantelpiece is an ancient bronze ritual vessel (or a reproduction). It's not likely it was used for ashes. The other items just look decorative.

A great "pomp"

The young man sitting on the left of his mother is sporting a great "pomp" hair style. Many young men of today would be jealous of his achievement.

Rather than Aunt Edna

I believe the larger urn was to hold potpourri. The large opening allowed easy tending of the contents and wafting of the aroma. My mother also kept a large jar on the mantel filled with all kinds of natural ingredients. Unlike the dry kits I see in stores, Mom's recipe was slightly moist and used fresh flower leaves, spices, and other goodies. The contents would get to look rather ugly but continued to smell pleasant, I have no idea how. The lid was removed a few hours a day or a day or two a week to be very subtle.


I'll have to say I remember those Tire Ash Trays also, I thought they were a 1970's thing, no idea they went back so far.

Questioning the view

Are we seeing, in the mirror, the Photographer looking down into the viewfinder or is it just the reflection of the guy on the far right?

[Among other clues, note the matching fireplace sconce in the reflection. - tterrace]


Would it be a safe bet to say the items on the fireplace mantle are urns containing ancestral ashes?

OWI message

I'm interested in the message that OWI was trying to convey with these photos. Something along the lines of, "These Asian-looking people are actually wholesome and loyal Americans, just like you! Not all people who look like this are the enemy, like those people we're putting into camps!"

Tire Ashtrays

I like the matching rubber tire ashtrays on the coffee table. These were very popular at one time, and are quite collectable today.


My folks had a "rubber tire" ashtray that looked the same as the 2 on the coffee table here.

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