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Kitchen Patrol: 1957

Kitchen Patrol: 1957

Chicago circa 1957, and it looks like somebody's getting written up for Kitchen Clutter. 4x5 acetate negative from the News Archive. View full size.


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Chicago checkered Police hats

Checkered hat bands and the demise of the eight pointed cap appeared in 1966 after the then Supt.of police O.W.Wilson returned from a visit to England. The white stripe on the trousers was phased out around the same time.


Is this a regular Chicago policeman? If so, it makes me wonder when they started wearing the caps with the checkered band.

Chicago Housing Authority

I don't think the Officer is a Chicago Policeman. The hat looks wrong. I think the lady is being written up for some violation by the Chicago Housing Authority. She has a helpless scared look on her face. A very sad picture, indeed!

Grips on the gun

I agree that the gun is a Smith & Wesson M&P .38 Special with a 4" barrel, but the grips are aftermarket and nothing that S&W put on their guns from the factory. S&W did put diamond shapes around the grip screws on their guns of that period, but those grips are custom.

The poor old dear-

The lower shelf was cluttered because she could no longer reach the things on the upper ones, and had to have her necessities within grasp. I'm a bit younger that she probably was then and still cringe whenever I have to climb up on my wobbly kitchen stool.

A Modern, Modular Kitchen Sink

By Youngstown Kitchens, as illustrated in their sales brochure, featuring "boomerang" handles. A group of company salesmen sing the praises of their new product line in a rousing promotional ditty, here:


Was not aware that adjustable safety holsters were available back then. At least it looks like one, with the adjustment screw at the base, used to tighten/loosen the holster tension.

The Gun

The diamond grips identify the service weapon as a product of Smith & Wesson. They were very common on their J and K Framed revolvers issued as duty weapons for law enforcement during this period. In this case the weapon is obviously not a J Frame (snub nosed) weapon that would have been carried by detectives, but rather a full sized revolver with the standard 4" barrel. All of which indicates that it is almost certainly a Model 10 Military and Police Special chambered for six rounds of .38 special. This was one of the most common issue weapons in American law enforcement as late as the 1980's when police departments began switching to high capacity semi-automatic pistols. Alas the diamond grips were discontinued in the late 1960's for reasons that are not entirely clear, though I suspect it was either aesthetics or cost savings.

The Golden Years

Dinner for one -- usually out of a can. Empty pantry shelves. Endless clutter that doesn't make a difference anymore. Unable to keep warm, when everyone around you is in short sleeves. Social calendar empty except for "wellness" checks by the local police.

Maybe life on the farm, with an extended family was not so bad after all.

The list

"Ok, Mom. you need a loaf of bread, some lard and clothespins. Anything else?"


1) There is some type of wire or cord going from her chest up to her head, maybe to her ear.

[Hearing aid. - Dave]

2) On the table are a lot of papers and envelopes, with more in the pan on the drainboard. Bills, leading to eviction? Hope not!

Chicago blue(s)

This lady was not a criminal, but a mere victim. She called the local precinct after two very young toughs in the neighborhood (grammar-student dropouts Jacob and Elwood) stole a six-pack of Meister Brau from her pantry when she wasn't looking. In response, the boys would be sent to a Catholic orphanage in Rock Island, the first of a few efforts to reform them. The rest is history.

Bad call

Sink strainer it is. Shorpy rule number one: View full size!

Just Getting By

This lady would be a candidate for Medicare, but a pity it was not available in 1957. Her hands appear to be red and swollen, suggesting she is unhealthy, and would the cord from her chest to her head area be a hearing aid?

From the neighborhood A&P

On the windowsill next to the carrot can, I see an empty jar of Ann Page Damson Plum preserves.

What bell?

That's a sink stopper.

Cooking Light

I see at least three light bulbs on the window sill. I wonder if she has to unscrew them in order to plug in the toaster which seems to be dangerously close to the faucet — a recipe for disaster in this pre-grounded, pre-GFI wiring era. The switch hanging by the frail looking cord? Anybody's guess.

The lady of the house still has her coat on. I wonder if, perhaps, her heat has been turned off?

Dinner bell?

ManyBuicks, I looked for a dinner bell and am missing it. You aren't referring to the metal sink strainer, are you? We have one just like it on the same place on our kitchen sink.

Those are some unusual grips on the policeman's revolver.

Use of Milnot is not allowed in Chicago - Here's your ticket!

You must use standard evaporated milk. No Milnot. Milnot is a form of evaporated milk that replaces the milk fat with vegetable oil. Stuff is nasty! Can is on the far left.

Later ...

After the lady's stressful episode is over, and her routine returns to normal, including fixing supper, she can be counted on to hit that dinner bell when the meal is ready.

What's going on?

I'm looking forward to talk on the gun, the products on the ledge behind her head, the contents of the white basin, the Philco fridge (identical to the one in the shed of a family cottage, working brilliantly for at least as long as hers - it predates me, born in the same circa year as this photo), the scary electrical switch dangling from the ceiling, the simple and elegant B&W tile, the strange notation on the label (Mr 41?), but what I most want to know is what is going on with this cop and this dear old lady who has weathered much and is in the midst of yet another strain / challenge / bit of a mess / pickle / what now?

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