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Patriotic Gesture: 1942

Patriotic Gesture: 1942

September 1942. Rochester, New York. "Earl Babcock's school day begins with the salute to the flag." A few interpretations verging on Jazz Hands. 4x5 inch nitrate negative by Ralph Amdursky for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Wire chalk holders

Chalk holders were used to make the perfectly spaced lines on the blackboard. We had something similar in my music classes in the 1960s, to make the five precise lines of a musical staff. I've never seen one as large as this. Looks like it covered the whole board in one pass.

Chalk Holders?

Looks to me like the classic slate blackboard that could produce incredible reactions when someone's fingernails were scraped on it. So what are those wire things along the left hand ledge of the blackboard? They appear to have pieces of chalk of different sizes in them. Perhaps that made it easier for the kids to write on the board with when the pieces of chalk became too small.

Fifty years ago my grade 12 math teacher in Vancouver, B.C., had a special metal large pen-type holder for the chalk so that her hands would not get chalk dust on them. She was very fussy about the appearance of the slate blackboard, and used a chamois to remove any dust before use.

I count about thirty kids in this class - by the time I started grade 1 in 1952 the baby boom was in full swing, and there were 44 kids in our combined grades 1 and 2 class. I agree with davidk about the differences in Canada. In 1965 we also sang our national anthem, Oh Canada, and at a regular high school there was a short passage read from the bible, and the saying of the Lord's Prayer. The flag was the old Red Ensign, and in that year the new Maple Leaf flag was adopted. We never saluted the flag or recited a pledge, but were quite aware of the American procedures.


Completely new to me. I had no idea gestures were ever part of this. It was always hand-over-heart for us, 1953 onward. I'd say that I prefer that. A lot.

You put your right hand in

I was taught this type of pledging. The outstretched hand is only one part. As I learned it, you placed your hand over your heart while you started "I pledge allegiance", then you out stretched it towards the flag while continuing "to the Flag of the United States" then sweeping it out to the side while saying "of America. And to the Republic", now aiming back at the flag "for which it stands" then placing it back over your heart while continuing the rest, "one nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all." There were regional variations. The "Under God" part was added later.

You put your right hand out

I was in second grade in 1942. The pledge began with the hand over the heart and was then extended to the flag. The correct hand position was palm up.

Alien salute

As a Canadian, I was always delighted that I didn't have to hold my hand over my heart and recite a pledge of allegiance. (We did, however, sing God Save the Queen: "...send her victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us...") Now here are these mesmerized children, many of them with their eyes closed, all with their outstretched arms terminating in a strange hand gesture. I realize your country is under unusual stresses at the moment, but what am I to make of this disturbing scene?

Bellamy variations

It's interesting to see this more supinated version of the Bellamy salute than I've seen in the past. In other photos I've seen from the period, the kids seem to be using something closer to the fully pronated version adopted by the fascists of the time.

Bellamy salute

By the time this photo was taken, the classrooms had only 3 months to go before they'd be putting their hands over their hearts instead. Is this the first in a series of A Day in the Life of Earl Babcock?

WWII finally did that in

and the hand over the heart became the way to pledge allegiance. As an immigrant over 50 years ago, my mother made me fall into the trap the writer of the pledge set in the 19th century, and said I shouldn't pledge allegiance to a flag of a country I wasn't a citizen of. We'll see if this type of salute comes back!


I think I prefer the "hand over heart" method we used when I was in school.

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