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Reading Circle: 1942

Reading Circle: 1942

May 1942. "Southington, Conn. Class of young children." Reading David's Friends at School. Photo by Fenno Jacobs, Office of War Information. View full size.


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Fenno Jacobs: Keep him comin'!

Fenno Jacobs, known as a major-magazine photographer, came to Southington in late May, 1942, for the Farm Security Administration, to photograph life in a typical American town, which, other than being more industrialized than most small towns, it was.

Among the nearly 300 photos he took, there, are scenes of school children raising the flag, and giving the "Bellamy" salute, as seen here:, which others photos in the set reveal to have been taken at the Milldale School, 1924-1990's, in the south-central part of town.

Many interior schoolroom shots, like this one, can look very much like Milldale School did, but subtleties of brickwork, window spacing details, and outside-the-windows views, indicate that THIS picture was taken at the Holcomb School, near downtown, built 1926.

There is another Jacobs picture of this exact scene, wherein the fellow reading, who seems to need his finger to help him follow the words, is standing proud and forthright, and delivering the message as if he had been born to preach.

Southington was a truly great town to grow up in, in the 1950s and '60s, when there were yet some farms remaining, and much undeveloped land. Sprawl has won the war, however, it's just too central a location.

This reading group

doesn't look much different from Miss Jacobs' first-grade class in 1960 in Southern California. We were working on the classic "Dick and Jane" series: "Jump, Jane. Jump up!"

Pretty Up to Date

Considering the first PCC streetcars were being introduced the year this book was published - someone certainly cared.

The Reading Circle. Not Dead yet

Believe it our not, my wife (a teacher for 36 years, retiring nine years ago, and then going back to substitute teach), was still doing the reading circle before she retired and as a Substitute.

She still had some of the best readers in the school.

Chairs and tables

Those chairs - as well as the tables and shelves - are just like the ones from my elementary school days more than ten years later. In fact, the room could almost be my first grade classroom. Things were made to last in those days. Even the clothing the kids are wearing wouldn't look out of place in the early 1950s.

Let's read together!

Clang, clang! Clang, clang!
"Here comes the street car", said Tom

David's Friends at School

Published in 1936 by Paul Robert Hanna (1902-1988), a professor in education at Stanford, author of 16 books and over 80 educational essays. He lived in a house designed for him and his wife by Frank Lloyd Wright (Wright's first in the San Francisco region).

A Trip to the Park

Looking over the shoulder of the boy in the striped shirt, it appears that David and his friends are boarding a PCC streamlined streetcar for their field trip. My grade 2 reader in Windsor, Ontario in 1953 was "Friends and Neighbours", and there was a story about two boys who took the streetcar across town to visit an amusement park. Unaccompanied. And they ran out of money for their return trip. But they had a nickel left, and used that to telephone Jim's uncle to come and rescue them. Another life lesson in the 1950s.

How Do You Look Today?

Love the reflection of the reading boy in the mirror.

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