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Liquor Beer Wines Gin: 1938

Liquor Beer Wines Gin: 1938

Summer 1938. Newark, Ohio. "Boy in front of liquor store." View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by Ben Shahn for the Farm Security Administration.


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Pocket Packet

On first seeing this image, I thought the boy had one of those string-pouches of loose tobacco for roll-your-own cigarettes in his pocket. But the way his pocket is bulging and sagging, it's too heavy for that. Knowing how much teenage boys like to eat, it's more likely to be some kind of substantial snack. Looks sorta like a big hunk of cornbread.

Funny how we would be trying to guess the contents of a boy's pocket some 70 years later!

But that's what's fun about these photos.

High Rider

Seems to wear his britches a little high, I'm just sayin...

Wooden Shirt Buttons

But for the wooden shirt buttons and Chico-Marx-style hat, the kid wouldn't stand out if somehow transported to January of 2008. Men's fashion really hasn't changed that much. Wonder what that thing is in the kid's shirt pocket? At first glance, I assumed it was some cellophane-wrapped snack food, because it looks like it. Then I remembered that Cellophane was still years away in 1938. Any ideas out there about what this mysterious object might be?

[Cellophane was not "years away" in 1938, it was decades old. (Below, a 1931 ad for cellophane, which was invented in 1908.) And the kid's shirt buttons certainly aren't made of wood. Next! - Dave]

Make a buy

I'm wondering if he's at the entrance to ask somebody older to make a buy for him.

[Eventually he has company. - Dave]

Davey Picnic

So...about that basket picnic, apparently a campaign event for the unsuccessful re-election of Martin L. Davey, governor of Ohio during the Depression...and president of the Davey Tree Company family. The history you pick up either directly or indirectly from Shorpy is amazing!


What a great picture! The appealing face of the kid, the ghostly smiling image of the store proprietor, the reflected images in the window. Awesome.

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