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The Autumn Leaves: 1941

The Autumn Leaves: 1941

December 1941. "Burning fallen leaves. New York City suburbs." Medium format negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Memories of long-ago Autumns.

Walking home from school in the Fall, the haze hanging over the neighborhood of the fires burning at the curb and the SMELL of those leaves burning is something that after more than 50 years I will never forget. It wasn't healthy but did we know or care?

Lost Childhood Dream

We always burned our giant stacks of elm leaves on the street curb in Nebraska in the 1960's. This was before the dreaded Dutch Elm Disease destroyed them all. It wasn't a "sacred right of Fall", but it was just what you did, it smelled great, and you got to tend a fire. What more could a 12 year old ask for?

Knickers into the late '40s

My parents bought those for me into the late 40's. Mine were corduroy and made a zip-zip sound as the legs rubbed together as I walked. I also remember that the stockings were very hard to keep up without some sort of garter which was uncomfortable!

Wistful Memories

When I was a kid growing up in the 80s, whenever we'd drive downstate to visit my grandmother, especially in the autumn, all you could smell were burning leaves. She had a fire pit of sorts in her backyard that was fenced in with chicken wire, and that's where she'd burn them. I don't live in an area where you can burn leaves, which is a shame because it eliminates the mess and unsightliness of seeing them piled up on the curb, especially when it rains, but more so because I miss that smell. It reminds me of being a kid, back when I had no obligations besides cleaning my room and doing my homework on time. Ahh, to be a kid again.

Among the last to lose his knickers?

It's my impression that knickers were common apparel for boys until around 1940, but fell out of favor quickly after that. Can anyone tell me when boys stopped wearing knickers, and whether there was any particular reason for the change?

Simple Pleasure

I no longer live where leaves turn color and litter the yard, but I'm guessing that the depicted activity is now banned. Burning leaves in front of your own house sounds like one of the many things today's kids will never enjoy.

Ahh, knickers!

As I look at the jeans my sons are throwing out, the knees and rear ends totally destroyed, along with the area around the ankles, the idea of knickers--pants that grow along with the boy--seems so smart.

Especially smart when you consider that wool pants don't burn readily, if you've got to burn leaves.

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