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Nouvelle Cuisine: 1938

Nouvelle Cuisine: 1938

September 1938. "Mrs. Betty Zimmerman and child in kitchen of new home at Greenbelt, Maryland." Medium format acetate negative by Marion Post Wolcott. View full size.

 

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Both beauteous Bettys

Adding to Karaboo's information from the 1940 Census, husband Paul worked as an accounting clerk for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. According to Wikipedia, "The Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) was a government corporation administered by the United States Federal Government between 1932 and 1957 that provided financial support to state and local governments and made loans to banks, railroads, mortgage associations, and other businesses. Its purpose was to boost the country’s confidence and help banks resume daily functions after the start of the Great Depression. The RFC became more prominent under the New Deal and continued to operate through World War II. It was disbanded in 1957, when the US Federal Government concluded that it no longer needed to stimulate lending."

Occupations of the Zimmermans' neighbors include file clerk at the White House, guard at the Bureau of Engraving, guard at the Post Office, boilermaker at Navy Yard, electrician at Navy Yard, and lecturer with a sightseeing company.

Another photo of both Bettys can be found here:

https://www.loc.gov/resource/fsa.8c35659/

One Gen. Ben Larger

I believe the clock is a Westclox Big Ben, style 4. Made from 1934 to 1939.

That's my sink!

My 1883 building was renovated in the late 1930s, and my kitchen is original from that date. The only difference is that there's a metal cabinet enclosing the pipes under the sink, with two doors, leading to storage area. The decrepit condition of my kitchen is not something I'm happy with, but when I asked what it would take to get a new kitchen, the landlord said, "Move."

Betty x2

Here we have Betty the elder (born in 1917) with her daughter, Betty Brooke, born in 1936. She lived with her husband, Paul Zimmerman, at 10-D Hillside Road, and Betty Brooke's little sister, Paula, born in 1937.

Paul was an accountant in "government" work, and earned a whopping $2200 in 1939. Their monthly rent was $34.

Wearing fast

I agree with francesblo that the place does not look new. The sink and faucet look nice, but the paint on the radiator and steam pipe is scuffed in lots of places. Some of it looks like damage from the trash can being repeatedly kicked into it, but some doesn't. I can't tell if the floor is worn or not, since it's clearly dirty. And there's a fair amount of accumulated grime in the corners. But the date of the photo is clearly September 1938, and I can't find any evidence of Greenbelt housing being occupied much before 1937. So I think we have to conclude that the place is indeed quite new, but the Zimmerman family is pretty hard on it.

"Get-Up!" sound of my childhood

The bell alarm of the Westclox "Big Ben" is embedded in my brain. (archfan: Baby Bens were much smaller) I remember purposely "forgetting" to wind it so I might have and excuse to not go to school. It rarely was successful.

A casement window yet in 1938

Crank out and screened. Living is easy. Kinda, anyway -- no Swing-a-Way can opener in sight.

Square corners and glass bricks

Referencing your photo below, this really has the Bauhaus look pioneered in Germany by Walter Gropius between 1919 and 1933 down pat! You can see its influence in lots of commercial structures in the late 1930s.

Re: babe

I love it when women make these comments about other women. Especially these strong, beautiful Depression women who are like a later generation of pioneer folk to me. Her hair is indeed gorgeous: silken soft and deftly arranged like a braided eggbread.

Creative Recycling

I am quite certain that Betty's dress is made from one or more tablecloths.

Scans well

One of my best friends has lived in Greenbelt for the 20+ years I've known him.

His family first lived in one of the row houses there, and now has a nice detached home on a shaded street. Greenbelt was designed for foot traffic and has a pleasant park with a lake, which I suppose is man-made.

Some of the houses in Greenbelt still have their original furniture and room dividers, and all that stuff was of a sort of a Scandinavian design.

In the town center, where the co-op store and swimming pool often shown on Shorpy are, has a great club called the New Deal Café, which offers live music.

Great town.

Ben a long, long time

It looks like there is a Westclox Baby Ben on the shelf above the sink. Westclox has been making the Baby Ben since 1910. My grandparents had the version with a wooden case as long as anyone could remember.

The Dress

Am I mistaken, or does her dress look like it was made from a tablecloth? Reminds me of the flour sack dresses. After all, it was the Depression.

Radiating curiosity

Anyone else wonder why they put the radiator under the sink?

I mean, it would be great to keep the pipes in the outside wall from freezing in the winter, but a lot of the heat from it would never make it out into the room and end up on the underside of the sink.

[It might be time for that refresher course in thermodynamics. - Dave]

I don't think this is a "new house"

Maybe new to her? Strongly reminds me of Grandma's house, especially the sink, built about 10 years prior to this pic in 1938. Floor is worn- not new. But Grandma is hose and heels and a dress, oh yes. But she wore an enormous apron to protect her clothes (but would never have let an outsider see her in it). And I'll bet that Betty was the same way. Never ever saw Grandma except in heels and a dress.

[It is a new apartment home. This was one of hundreds of photos taken by Marion Post and others to document the construction of housing in the federally planned community of Greenbelt, Maryland. - Dave]

Betty's a babe

Shoe game strong, beautiful figure, gorgeous hair, stylish dress. Show 'em how it's done, Betty. But is that kid chowing down on frozen vegetables right out of the Birds Eye bag? My kids didn't want them even perfectly cooked, with salt and butter.

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