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Miracle Ham: 1941

Miracle Ham: 1941

April 1941. "South Side Chicago, 47th Street (Bronzeville)." Medium format negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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The photo was taken from the roof above William Green's Electrical Appliances shop as seen at Mr. Radio: 1942 and Tommy Dorsey: 1942.

Old buildings

Though extensively changed, the row of stores across the street (where is now a vacant lot) was still there until at least 2014; the Packing Town Market building with its entry columns is still identifiable from them.

In both views

In the modern street view, the old building a block away just to the left of the light pole can be seen - just the top of it - in the old view, but it is quite apparently the same building still there. Amazing how much is gone from the new view - I wonder when it was torn down.

Miracle on 47th Street

I wonder what is "Miracle" about the ham.
That it was pre-cooked?

Not much left of this view

You can see 119 on a sign across 47th, and the street crossing appears to be Indiana (better seen on the LOC image), today the view on E 47th looking east toward South Indiana looks like this:

Shiny Nash?

I believe the very shiny car, either new or freshly waxed, parked at the curb facing the camera in the bottom of the frame is a 1939 Nash sedan. The squared-off headlights seemed to be a trend for a couple of car manufacturers that year.

I am struck by how much the scene resembles the area in the movie "The Sting" where Robert Redford's character Johnny Hooker rented a room, right down to the lunch counter on the corner.


The coupe in front of the '37-'38 Buick is a '37 or '38 Chevy and the Mercury on the far left is a 1939, the first year for the marque.

Inspector Of Radios?

The sign in the lower left has aroused my curiosity - RADIOS INSPECTED FREE.

I was born in 1943 and I have never before seen such a sign.

Why, in 1941, would a radio have a need to become inspected?

[It's broken and doesn't work is why. That's a radio repair shop. - Dave]

Pretty New Cars

Facing us far left is a 1940 Mercury (first year); closer behind the truck is '40 Chevrolet; at the curb on the opposite side is a '39 Ford Tudor behind a '37 or '38 Buick; farther down that side ahead of the coupe at an angle is another '39 Ford.

Always surprises me how often the '38, '39, '40 Fords show up in these pics.

47th St & Indiana Ave

In the novel "Native Son," this corner was the location of Ernie's Kitchen Shack, where Bigger takes Mary and Jan, who want to see an authentic place "where colored people eat".

The book (released in the spring of 1940) revolves around the neighborhood where Russell Lee was photographing in 1941.

If we continue walking towards the L, we will find the shoeshine we met a while ago on Shorpy.

Spiritual Parochial school luncheon

A Miracle Ham sandwich with Miracle Whip on Wonder Bread and for dessert, Heavenly Hash with Angelfood cake. Of course, if it is on a Friday, the sandwich would be Holy Mackerel. (no meat on Fridays for Catholics in 1941) and don't forget to say Grace before your meal.

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