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Be It Ever So Humble: 1940

Be It Ever So Humble: 1940

August 1940. "Old house in Upper Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania. In the background is East Mauch Chunk." Photo by Jack Delano. View full size.


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Re: Shutters

As Jovust asked about the lower level solid shutters, I'd recall being told to remember what those items were original called - "Shutdoors". As best as I can remember, the shutters on the lower level were solid for security reasons. You closed them and locked them just as you would the front and back doors. The upper levels were under no such restriction because unless a burglar had a ladder, they were less susceptible to break-ins.

Louvres & transoms

Vonderbees inquired about operational louvres on shutters in old houses. Houses of a certain age were built with a passive air flow system intended to pull hot air out of the building, and let in cooler air from below. The louvres could be adjusted to shut out hot sunlight, and to let in cooler air. Often there were vents on the sides of the attic to further this air flow. It used to be everyone knew to draw the blinds or shutters during the day and keep them tightly closed until the outside temperature was cooler than the inside temperature. Even today a house can be kept relatively cool without air conditioning during a Pennsylvania summer.

North and Walnut

I think the house sits on the NE corner of Walnut Street and North Avenue. No street view alas, but the chimney is in the right place and seems to be at the correct angle as seen in the photo. If that is the house, it's been added to on the east side.

Unjustly Obscure

On my face book page you used these words along with the credits.
I could not agree more having never heard of Jack Delano until I met
up with Shorpy and have been blown away by his work ever since.
Thank you Shorpy.

With a little love, some elbow grease,

and a $200,000 gift card from Lowe's, that would be a cute little place!

Those folks in Upper Mauch Chunk got it made, but they're always looking down on those East Mauch Chunkers.

That Old House

Old, yes. Neglected, yes, but still holding promise. The structure is straight, the roof is solid, and is in a good neighborhood (the house next door looks well kept). They do have electric, although not a refrigerator, judging by the ice card in the window, their "icebox fuel" is running low. The boy has the essential toy for a youngster -- a stick.

Lean to

It appears to be listing to starboard a bit. Or maybe my
computer screen is listing to port. At any rate the roof looks nice.

The right idea

Whoever is in charge of the maintenance of this house has the right idea. If you only have the resources to maintain one thing on the exterior of your domicile, it should be the roof. Looks like fairly new rolled roofing, with mastic generously coating the seams. Now lets get some paint on this baby!

A sign

Sign in window looks like it is for a coal company delivery. Does that tell the driver how much to deliver?

[It means a 15-pound block of ice. - Dave]

And what if you wanted coal?

I shutter to think

The concept of real shutters is interesting to me since all of our newer houses have those fake plastic ones that aren't really functional. I happened to notice the other day in the posting "Slick and Quick" that the shutters in that photo were solid on the ground floor and had operating louvers on the top floor. Then I see this shot today and it is the same thing. Anybody know more about the reasoning behind this?

The Good News

No floods.

Fast forward?

I love how the boy in front is running straight toward us. Or seems to be. The only 'motion blur' is at his forward arm. Is he just posing that way to be silly? The smile on his face is a bit mischievous. Also interesting is the contrast of what looks to be a new roof on the old house.


Despite its age—even at that time—it does better what 98% of new homes do not: functional shutters. If there's a pet peeve of modern house design that I can't stand, it's the eyesore of shutters that are obviously hingeless OR far too short for the large windows they adorn. This old home is made beautiful if by that one aspect alone!

Now Jim Thorpe, PA

Fascinating. Didn't find the house however.

Name change

Mauch Chunk is now known as Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvasnia, and is the burial place of that famous athlete.

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