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Waiting in Memphis: 1943

Waiting in Memphis: 1943

September 1943. "Greyhound bus trip from Louisville, Kentucky, to Memphis, Tennessee, and the terminals. Waiting for a bus at the Memphis station." Photo by Esther Bubley for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Victory pants?

I thought cuffs were banned during WWII to save on cloth.

What was the rule on seating?

Somehow I suspect that the home front heroes to the right got the better seats on the bus than the soldiers.


The folded copy of the Memphis Press-Scimitar in the man's left suit pocket may help to pinpoint the date, thanks to the letters "S OCC" in the banner headline. September 1943 was the month of the leapfrog amphibious landing by U.S. and British troops at Salerno, and the Italian surrender which prompted frantic efforts by Germany to take full control of everything north of the battle lines. From looking at other dailies that month, my educated guesses are September 10, 1943 (and NAZIS OCCUPY ROME, or possibly ALBANIA) or September 30, 1943 (and YANKS OCCUPY NAPLES).

A lot of drama, too

It positively bristles with individual tensions and unspoken stories. As a tableau, it looks like something from a Tennessee Williams play. And I'm always amazed when I see people travelling with their stuff wrapped in paper and tied up with string.

A Lot of History in This Picture

The Sergeant sitting on his duffel bag is wearing a 3rd Army patch. The 3rd was home to the first African-American divisions in the U.S. Army. In September 1943 the 3rd was still in training status. They shipped to England and came under the command of Patton at the beginning of 1944.

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