JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Thick and Fast: 1938

San Francisco, 1938. "Yes, Columbus Did Discover America!" A jeweler (and car) with definite political views. Gelatin silver print by the German-born painter and photographer John Gutmann (1905-1998). View full size.

San Francisco, 1938. "Yes, Columbus Did Discover America!" A jeweler (and car) with definite political views. Gelatin silver print by the German-born painter and photographer John Gutmann (1905-1998). View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

3 X

Proposition 25, which was based on the Townsend Plan, not only failed in 1938, but it fell short by a much larger margin in 1939 (1,933,557 to 993,204). An attempt to put it on the ballot again in 1942 was thwarted when 14,000 petitioner signatures were disqualified. The Townsend Plan stamp below is one of the ways that word was spread to gain support for the plan.

In the book "Out of the Frying Pan" by Winston and Marian Moore (1939) the acrimony between the factions in support of and against the proposition was described by them as, "California, the unpredictable, was in the midst of an upheaval which amounted to almost a verbal civil war. Brother was turned against brother, father against son, wife against husband; it was an emotional crisis and none of them could be rational about it, no matter which side they espoused. Friendships of long standing were damaged beyond repair, in a contest that was more wrath-provoking than any political or religious argument. Everyone took sides and every street corner was a battle front. Its advocates hailed it as a cure for all of the ills which afflict mankind. Its opposers damned it as a subversive plot to ruin everything up to and including the California climate."

The watchmaker/jeweler's shop in the photo above was owned/managed by Harry Whitfield Childress (1880 - 1954) who was originally from Paducah, Kentucky. You can read part of his name in the window. He is holding the National Ham and Eggs newspaper. A copy of the newspaper masthead, and another photo, also taken by John Gutmann, in front of the same store window are below. The lady in this photo appears to be holding a copy of the same newspaper as the person in front of the store who is likely to be Mr. Childress (note the jeweler's smock).

His copiously covered car is a 1935 Plymouth DeLuxe 4-Door Touring. Instead of front door vent windows, the window crank could be turned slightly and the front window would move approximately three inches rearward to let in a breeze.

Watch Him Disappear

Thanks to frenchjr25 identifying the address as 3002 Mission Street, we can see that the watchmaker's shop has been swallowed up by the liquor store. If it wasn't the drink that got him, cell phones and wearable technology would have.


I had no idea that sign painters had a CapsLock setting.

Why don't you tell us...

Why don't you tell us what you REALLY think?

Building Address

This building is located at 3002 Mission Street and is still standing (2016).

Ham and Eggs

My grandfather liked to say, when life was frustrating: "If we had some ham we could have ham and eggs, if we had some eggs."

Not Your Sap

Now that's a word that doesn't get out much anymore, and that's a shame. Bogart used it with real conviction in The Maltese Falcon, telling Mary Astor, "I won't play the sap for you!"

78 Years Later - Only the vehicles have changed

Every so often I see a van traveling in our city festooned with all sorts of political-speak.

Proposition 25 ( the initial "Ham and Eggs" measure)

Most of the text in this photo relates to an initiative on the November 1938 ballot in California to create a system of "retirement warrants" in place of public assistance for those 50 years or older. Had it been adopted and implemented, retired California residents in that age range would have received tax-and-interest-free self-liquidating "warrants" of $30 a week for life. It failed to pass, by a relatively small margin of 1,143,670 to 1,398,999.

We've Come How Far?

Many of the observations and comments carry through today. There's a little Bernie, some Hillary, a dash of Trump, and a whole bunch of frustration in those old words. Along with cars and signs, how saturated was radio with political ads back then? What if everyone had TV in 1938?

Only in the City by the Bay

By night, an innocent watchmaker; by day, a brilliant political thinker and economic reformer.

Syndicate content is a vintage photography site featuring thousands of high-definition images. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Contact us | Privacy policy | Accessibility Statement | Site © 2023 Shorpy Inc.