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Club Firetrap: 1941

Club Firetrap: 1941

March 1941. "House being converted into a 'nightclub' near Laurel, Maryland." Medium format negative by Martha McMillan Roberts. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

high wire

What is the nature and purpose of the line stretched between the peak of the dormer and the cupola? Lightning protection? Some kind of radio antenna?

Angus J's hood ornament.

That's Ferdinand the bull.
Normally depicted laying in or holding flowers in his mouth.

Beat up Willys

The Willys coupe is a 1937 or '38. If the picture was taken in 1941 that coupe has had a rough life. The coupe in Angus J's photo is a 1940, identified by the rectangular grille and chrome strips on the nose of the hood. The 1939 had a grille similar to the '37-'38 but more pointed and the head lamps had a matching pointed glass.

1939 Willys

In 1945 my parents returned from their World War II military duties in Europe, and my father was accepted into the Harvard Business School. Here they are ready to leave his mother's home on Cornish Road in Toronto for Wollaston, near Boston. The 1939 model Willys is not in bad shape compared to the one in the photo, and there has been a slight redesign of the body. Since it is a coupe, the trunk was jammed to overflowing, which caused a scene at the U.S. border. My father had no recollection of the hood "ornament". Upon returning to Toronto in 1947, when I was born, it was replaced with a 1929 Nash, but that is another story.

Willys Indicators

The lack of a pronounced rain gutter above the door indicates that it is a 1937. The two vertical front bumper guards (ignoring the large aftermarket one in the middle) indicates that it was of mid-to-late 1937 manufacture, as the early production versions (starting in the fall of 1936) did not have them. The lack of three chrome trim spears on the sides of the headlight pods indicates that it is a Standard, rather than a DeLuxe coupe. It sold for $499 new.

Gives Me the Willys

I'll bet that the owner of that poor Willys wished, around 1944, that he'd taken better care of it. Amazingly battered up for a fairly late-model car. The name "Willys", contrary to popular belief, is pronounced "Willis"

Dead Center

I like the three bullet holes in the ash can. Ready for Saturday night.


I would say that car is a 1938 Willys Model 38 Coupe. Wish I had it in my backyard!

More of a NightMare

Straight outta Stephen King. Bet there's a Pet Sematary 'round back.

A swinging county

Having spent about six months in Ann Arundel county in 1950, I vividly recall that cafes often had slot machines installed -- not the kind that dispensed coupons for free cigarettes, either. I don't recall seeing them in Baltimore, but the officers' club at Fort Meade had them too.

Oddly, my mother would often give me a nickel to play the juke box, but not to play the slots!

Shorpy Vehicle Identification Imperative

This one's easy: Willys Americar coupe. The harder part: is it a '37 or a '38? Perhaps a Willys expert could chime in with a ruling.

I'm scared

... of the scare quotes around "nightclub," though I agree with switzarch that the corner porch is is interesting. It looks like a big place that could accommodate many "night activities."


The corner porch detail is really a fun element.

I see you

Even the car looks sad.

I wonder who the fellow is who is almost hiding behind the tree.

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