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Listening Post: 1942

Listening Post: 1942

Rochester, New York. "Mr. Babcock tuning in for war news." Howard B. in the latest installment of the Babcock saga; the photos, with a publication date of March 1943, seem to be from September 1942 if the newspaper is indeed new. Photo by Ralph Amdursky for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Comfortable homefront

Plush setting belies the fact there is a war. I wonder if electrical power was rationed?

[The furnishings here are typical for a middle-class family home of the time. Wartime restrictions on certain commodities did not extend to confiscation of people's existing possessions. Electricity as such was not rationed, though conservation was encouraged to help conserve electrical-generating materials such as oil and coal. -tterrace]

Re: Timely Stockings

Are those stockings also known as "spats"?

[No; spats fit over the shoe. -tterrace]

Why the Cardinals

The reason the D&C is featuring the St. Louis Cardinals is they were the parent club of the local minor league (AAA) team the Rochester Red Wings. Today the Red Wings are affiliated with the Minnesota Twins and the D&C is still being published (although it's a ghost of its former self).

Timely stockings

I think those arrows on his socks are called clocks. They were very popular on women's stockings in the 20's and earlier.

[And men's, too. -tterrace]

There's always eBay...

for old-fashioned shade pulls.

Upsidedown umbrellas

Two on top of the radio. What did they hold?
Flowers? Toothpicks? Cigarettes?

Ah! The Doily Headrest!

My mom put those on every chair and sofa in the house. I remember asking her once what purpose they served.

"To protect the furniture from oily hair", she replied.

"But we shower ever every day", I replied.

"No matter", she replied (somewhat indignantly) - and that was THE END of that conversation.

[Your mom was right. That's why that "doily" is actually called an antimacassar. -tterrace]

The chair! The blind pulls!

We had a chair exactly like that when I was young! And I haven't seen pulls like those in ages!

Shade Pull

Tahoemike, I was fascinated with looking out the window too! The Christmas wreaths we had for those windows were no bigger around than one of today's dinner plates.

Cool shoes!

Literally speaking. They must have been very comfortable on hot days with all those holes in the uppers. I think they were house shoes because people didn't get rid of their street shoes and wear out their expensive socks around the house. Dress socks like those are still around the same price as a dinner out.

September 13

I can't make out the date, but the headline about the Cardinals and Dodgers being tied in the standings means this must have been Sunday, September 13.

The Cardinals and Dodgers finished a two-game series on Saturday and were tied for first in the National League for the only time that season (the Cardinals went on to win the National League and the 1942 World Series). The Saturday game featured 6 future Hall of Famers (Enos Slaughter, Stan Musial, Billy Herman, Joe Medwick, Pee Wee Reese, and Arky Vaughan). It was a critical turning point because up until that series the Dodgers had led the National League since the first week of the season.

Assuming this was taken that Sunday, the Dodgers would have likely just finished getting swept in a double header against the Reds, capping a five-game losing streak (significant since they finished the season 2.0 games behind the Cardinals).

Western Auto

Truetone was the store brand of Western Auto stores. The radios they sold were not actually made by Western Auto, rather they were made for them by other radio manufacturers--usually ones with names lesser known than Truetone, such as Belmont or Wells Gardner. This man bought his enormous radio just in time: it is a 1942 model, the D1144, and wouldn't have been available for long after civilian radio production ceased for the duration of WW2.

Those shoes!

They're either very ugly, or very stylish. But they're definitely very something.
There's a two-out-of-three chance that Mr. Babcock was committing a white-after-Labor Day faux pas. He'd be okay if the date is Sunday, September 6, but not if it's the 13th or the 20th. The date cannot be Sunday, September 27 as that was the last day of the regular baseball season when the Cardinals won the NL title by defeating the Cubs, and the newspaper refers to the Cards and the Dodgers as being even.

How I Remember

I remember how fascinated I was by those little string covered pulls on the blinds when I was a small kid. I think I pulled a few off in my day. Does anyone know what they are called? They are way too fancy NOT to have a name. The man's socks and shoes are over the top! He would have been considered quite stylish at the time.

[Those are windowshade pulls. - Dave]

Furniture placement

Doesn't he know that having the chair so close to the radio will damage his ears?

As usual, the devil reposes in the details

Now, the first nit one might pick is that the Democrat & Chronicle was the morning Gannett paper, and the Times-Union the afternoon, and it looks to be late afternoon when the photo was taken, but the paper indicates that it is Sunday, so the T-U would not have been published that day. Evidently, the possible staleness of the news is what prompts Mr. Babcock to seek out H.V. Kaltenborn or Gabriel Heater via the ether. I cannot make out the date, but as it's September, we may have Mr. Babcock on a "white after Labor Day" offense with respect to those snazzy shoes.

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