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Top Shelf: 1942

Top Shelf: 1942

May 1942. "Greenbelt, Maryland. Federal housing project. Shopping in the cooperative grocery store." Hunting for that last can of Spam. Photo by Marjory Collins for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.


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Thank Goodness for Marjory Collins!

Love this photo! We use photos like this one all the time when doing research on Greenbelt, Maryland. The Greenbelt Museum has restored one of the original townhomes built here in 1937 as part of the federal housing project and we operate it as a house museum. These photos of the cooperative grocery store help us know what to display in the kitchen! The store was written about in the Greenbelt newspaper, The Cooperator, (another cooperative venture, in case you couldn't guess!) because of its modern trappings. "...everyone seems to be pleased with the self-service idea and the traveling market baskets," wrote the reporter. The original cooperative grocery store was a part of Greenbelt Consumer Services, which folded in the 1980s, but a new cooperative formed and "The Coop," as it's now known is thriving today.

Are My Seams Straight?

Asked the lady of the photographer after the picture was taken. Ladies of that era spent inordinate amount of time asking that question of any family member before they sallied forth into public. It was a time when visible bra straps and crooked seams meant they were not properly dressed.


Root Juices. The essential roots include sassafras, sarsaparilla, licorice, burdock and dandelion. Thank you, Charles Elmer Hires, pharmacist from Philadelphia, for this wondrous elixir.

Why stretch for Spam

When the Treet is right in front of your face?


"Everything but the oink" pretty much describes it, and I still partake on occasion, but todays version is lacking some of the spice they must have added years ago. My dad would acually ship 10 lb. cubes of the stuff out of the Philidelphia area (best scrapple around) with dry ice, to friends that requested it. With eggs and toast or sliced about 1/4 inch and fried with cheese on bread, there is no substitute!

Empty bottles

Back in my bowtied grocery carryout days, the bottle return would be deducted with the coupons at the end of the sale. Then we would always try to be the one to sneek off with the full cart of bottles to sort by company and smoke a cigaret in the back room.

Scrapple anyone?

As an oblivious and trusting kid during the WW2 years, I would eat whatever was put on my plate without questioning its origins. Scrapple was pretty common usually served with fried eggs and toast and resembled sausage patties or hash. It was only after I started inquiring about what was in it and not getting any clear answers that I had to find out the truth through personal research. The word 'scrapple' comes from pork scraps, mostly hogs heads boiled and scraped clean and usually contains skin, fat, heart, liver, tongue, snout, tails and brains. This is mixed and boiled with cornmeal mush, onions and spices and strained into pans to set up, then is sliced and fried. This info brought my scrapple consumption to a screeching halt but I have known many who are still fond of it and will go out of their way to find a source where it is sold. Those faint of palate need not venture any further.

This is my hometown.

The Co-op is still going strong in Greenbelt. I love all the Greenbelt pics!

Except for the shopping cart

and the cracker price tag, that looks like my Prepper neighbor's basement.

Empty bottles?

Might I ask if anyone knows why there are a number of empty bottles in the basket? If she was returning empty soda bottles to the store, that would be the first thing she'd do, right?

Bucket list

Who'd of thought that 60 years after this photo was taken the factory that those NESCO buckets were probably made in would be added to the National Register of Historic Places (or that such a list would even exist).

Got it!

Daddy will be so happy, Johnny! Mommy found the last can of SPAM!!

Little Algernon

Is just about to dive into the canned goods.


Fancy mop bucket with wringer!

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