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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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School Days: 1941

School Days: 1941

September 1941. "Two of the Gaynor boys walking to school near Fairfield, Vermont." Medium format negative by Jack Delano. View full size.

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Alternate Spelling

I lived in Maine long ago when first married, and worked for an old-timer who called his lunch pail a Dinner Bucket.

Lunch pails

Some people in Nebraska called it that too. I visited the Pioneer Village museum in Minden, Nebraska a couple years ago, and there was a one-room schoolhouse. In the front of the schoolhouse, there were lunch containers all lined up. There were lunch pails and cigar boxes and any other containers that school children in the old days could bring their lunch in.

Rural schooldays

And some 30 years earlier, my Dad rode his horse to school in northern Kentucky, carrying a loaded revolver.

Beyond the Pail

Looking at the young man on the left, you can see where the old expresson "lunch pail" got its origin. Lunch was actually packed in a small bucket or pail. It had a handle, was sturdy and leakproof.

Maybe the term lunch pail was a regionalism, but it was popular in my area, especially among factory workers.

Uphill Both Ways

I'd be willing to bet that during winter they had to walk uphill both ways in the middle of a blizzard.


Sun flash on the Lunch Bucket. Serendipity, do you think, or are there multiples of this shot trying to get it?

[Actually it's because Ma packed Billy a plutonium sandwich. - Dave]

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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