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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Oysters Any Style: 1939

Oysters Any Style: 1939

1939. Mobile, Alabama. "Collins store -- Royal Street near St. Louis Street." The Panama Cafe looks like our kind of place. Note the Dr Pepper truck in the alley. 8x10 inch acetate negative by Frances Benjamin Johnston. View full size.

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Collins Store ? ?

What's the significance of the "Collins Store" in the caption? Some explanation seems in order.

156 N Royal

I believe this is where the new U.S. Customs Services is today, between St Louis and St Anthony. By 1951 the phone number had changed to 2-9874.

"It's Good"

Those Barq's folks sure knew how to craft a compelling slogan.

Going Down?

If there are basement stairs on the other side, it was, and still is, common to lower the knob for easier access from stairway. The knob height indicates a steep and dark stairway. Try a cane sugar Dr. Pepper for the old fashioned flavor.

Barq's Rootbeer

Barq's rootbeer was my drink when I was a kid. It was great stuff for a rootbeer float. It's still bottled today but I don't think it tastes the same as 60 (gasp!) years ago.

Kids Entrance?

What's with the LOW doorknob on the BIG door on the left?

Any ideas/guesses?

Oysters Rockefeller and a carafe of Montrachet please

Follow your nose. I'm pretty sure that the fresh seafood aroma wafting from this oyster bar enticed passers-by to check it out, as the flies clustered on the holey screen door working their way inside. I can even smell it now emanating from this picture, the hot French fries, bubbling pots of oil and hints of the salty sea while contemplating the layer of slick, greasy coating covering every object in the restaurant. The owner obviously lives upstairs in the far left window apt. with an identical chair as in the diner. Could that be the cook sitting on the bench for a breath of fresh air? No waiting.

Soda almost any style, too

Not only will the Panama Cafe prepare your Oysters Any Way, they also sell Coca-Cola, 7-Up, Barq's Root Beer, Dr. Pepper (10 - 2 & 4) and even offer Dentyne Gum, for that after-the-oysters breath freshening.

156 N Royal, long gone of course.

But if you wanted to call them back in the day, just ring up Belmont-9415, according to the "U.S. Telephone Directory Collection" at

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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