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White Wash: 1951

White Wash: 1951

The location: Fourth Avenue North in Birmingham, Alabama.

1951. "Segregation in the South." Which extended, evidently, even to pillowcases. Photo by John Vachon for the Look magazine article "How Far From Slavery?" Who'll be the first person to tell us where this might be? View full size.


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Below is the same view from February of 2021.


Parked up high at right for your viewing pleasure is a 1940 Studebaker, most likely a President Coupe, but possibly a Commander Coupe. Studebaker was 8th in U.S. auto sales with 117,091 cars sold during the 1940 calendar year. A 1940 Studebaker Champion was the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car, and a 1940 Studebaker Champion was Judy Garland's first car. The radio antenna appears to be an aftermarket accessory as the standard Studebaker antenna had a cowl-mounted antenna.

Progress against the odds

Interesting to note that even in Birmingham, even in 1951, there might be black folk with sufficient resources that, as some whites feared, they might send their laundry out to be washed commercially. How uppity!

Obligatory Shorpy Street View

The location of the laundry is now a vacant lot, but the building behind with "AMERICAN LIFE" emblazoned across the top still stands.

View Larger Map

4th Avenue North

Hotel Granada: 2230 Fourth Avenue N., Birmingham, Alabama.

I typed in the offending slogan and found another photo of it in Google Books.

Two Things

I don't know where this was and I wasn't born as of 1951 but I will say that in the Northeast growing up we did see this kind of activity. I remember a small variety store in our neighborhood that would only let the white kids in on the way to school to buy snacks or whatever. It bothered me even as a youngster. Sometimes I'd buy items for others and give them to them outside the store.

On another note, here in the Northeast, Fluff refers to the marshmallow we'd put in our peanut butter sandwich, not TP.

Birmingham, Alabama

The Granada Hotel was a long-time fixture in Birmingham. The neighborhood around it became notorious for drugs and prostitution. The hotel burned some years ago, but its shell has been reclaimed and is now in use as a center for homeless women and children.

At least that's my guess.

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