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Pickle-Low Party: 1939

Pickle-Low Party: 1939

July 1939. "Sign tacked to pole near the post office. Main street, Pittsboro, North Carolina." This photo by Dorothea Lange, which has attracted no small amount of bemused commentary over the years, requires two avenues of explanation. The first is that Lange was a connoisseur of quirky signage, snapping away at whatever outre malapropism, mangled spelling or jarring juxtaposition might present itself by the side of the road (see here, here, here, here and here; there are dozens more). The second is that "piccolo" was Depression-era slang for jukebox or nickelodeon; a piccolo party's dancing was to canned music rather than a live band. Hence the PICKLE-LOW PARTY that will go on forever, thanks to the combined efforts of G.W. Leach, A.A. Hopkins and D. Lange. View full size.


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Orphaned Waif

Checked the 1940 census. GW Leach head of household, William A. Hopkins, 16, "orphaned waif." I hope the pickle-low parties were a success!

[What was their address? - Dave]

The Leach family owned their home and it is shown to be worth $1200, but curiously there are no addresses listed for anyone on this page or the previous page. The only note in the address column is 2 pages prior and it says "Colored Church Street, Old Highway"

The 1930 census lists the street the family lives on as "Masonic St." but no street numbers.


"Pickle-low" for piccolo, "AMD" for admission, "Aad" for and. Looks like A.A. Hopkins was chosen for the task of poster maker by virtue of his penmanship alone.

[He's a 16-year-old orphaned waif, so we can cut him some slack! - Dave]

George W. Leach

Could our G.W. Leach be George W. Leach, who died July 27, 1953, and is buried in Pittsboro? He would have been 53 on the date of the party. His wife Sallie would have been 53 as well.

21st Century party

I don't know about anyone else, but I have a sudden need to organize a pickle-low party. AMD. prices will remain the same. As in the pickle-low party advertised here, I won't tell you when exactly, just come and have a great time. Pickles and/or pickle-lows may or may not be available.

No single women

Was there really no way for an unescorted woman to attend? Or did the sign maker just run out of space and assumed people would conclude the admission price for a single woman was 5 cents?

Women Free

OK, I'm guessing that women were admitted for free, thus making it more likely that a guy would fork over a whole dime. What think my fellow Shorpyites?

The two large six inch spikes

will surely hold the sign to the pole.

Time and terms

Wonder if "Pickle Party" is precursor to the term "Sausage Party" denoting a gathering that is exclusively or almost-exclusively male.

So many questions

What about the single ladies? What was the cost of their admission? What does AMD stand for? What time did the Pickle-low start? Details, we need details!

[AMD is our poster artist's attempt to abbreviate Admission. - Dave]

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