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Garbage Out: 1943

Garbage Out: 1943

May 1943. "New York. Emptying garbage and trash from Harlem apartment houses." Photo by Gordon Parks, Office of War Information. View full size.


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Gold star?

I can't tell from even the larger photo, but if the banner with the three stars is as Mack W posted, the family has two sons on active duty (blue stars) and a third who died while on active duty (gold star). A family who gave a lot to their country.

My grandparents had two blue stars for my father and my uncle until March 1945, when my uncle was killed in Europe. Then one gold and one blue. I have been told that my grandmother was never the same after she heard the news, and she lived another 19 years.


I recall these "escalator" garbage trucks (in NYC we did not say "trash") from the days before hydraulic compactors. These were predated by open top trucks - the poor guys in the street would empty the cans thru a side door in the truck, or sometimes have to toss a loaded steel can up to his partner in the truck, and then catch the can when tossed back empty.

Service Stars

Second floor window above the trash cans - this family has sons serviing in the military. Given that the date is 1943, this makes perfect sense.


Memories can be found in the smallest, most mundane objects. Take a look at the second floor window on the left. You can see a circular shade pull. My father was an accountant for a texile mill and I remember him taking me through the factory one day. Seated around a table were three grandmother-types who were crocheting these around a metal ring. They were able to produce a completed pull in under ten seconds, all while carrying on a lively conversation.

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