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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • VINTAGE MIAMI: c. 1960s

Crossing Guard: 1937

Crossing Guard: 1937

San Francisco, 1937. "Don Lee Oldsmobile on Golden Gate Bridge with police officer." Whose cruiser we can see reflected in the bumper. 8x10 acetate negative, originally from the Wyland Stanley collection. View full size.

 

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Lesser model

Representing the dealer is a six cylinder Olds. The up-scale 8 had a waffle pattern grill. Both engines were thankfully improved from the 1936 offering.

Your Father's Oldsmobile

The panel below the short '37 Olds grille was supposed to suggest front-wheel-drive -- engineering which at the time was limited to expensive exotics, race cars, and the innovative, high-priced Cord cars. In reality, it would have taken considerably more than a cleverly styled valance to take the Olds image -- or performance -- out of the realm of solid, stolid, and ho-hum.

Watch this space

Judging by the pile of dirt in the middle of the bridge deck and the casual (parked) stance of the subjects, San Francisco's signature span must have been in its final days of construction. I certainly remember the first time I drove over it upon my return from Vietnam some 45 years ago, but I've never appreciated the lights before. Thanks, fellow Shorpy buffs!

Bridge lights now

Sometime before 1980, the original sodium vapor lamps were replaced with boxy units. The standards were retained, but I was bummed by the result.

Old cops

I love old movies and I always wonder why all the cops in movies from the '30s and '40s seem to be 50 years old. Maybe because most were, judging from this photo.

Olds Aside

Those lights and their supports are superb. Look like something from today's catalogs. Good design endures.

Agree, the new 'boxes' don't work quite as well as those originals. Disappointing to say the least.

Funhouse mirror

Those streetlights

are just about the coolest thing I've ever seen. Also, there's a great article in the Hemmings Daily Blog today about Don Lee, his early coachbuilding company, and his connection to Harley Earl, who launched GM's Art and Colour section in 1927.

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