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Fountain of Youth: 1941

Fountain of Youth: 1941

March 1941. Norfolk, Virginia. "A miscellany of pictures in overcrowded Navy towns. Corridor in public school." Medium format acetate negative by John Vachon. View full size.


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Dirty Walls

Looks like many used each of the adjacent walls to do the water-fountain-lean

Sometimes sad memories

are like GlenJay's comment about the segregation in schools. I graduated from high school (In the South) in 1958, and we had white and black and Indians, and we just didn't know that it wasn't OK for us all to get along with each other so we got along well. We all had one single water fountain on each floor of the high school, just labeled "WATER". The 3 top grades had about 500 total students, and we all got along with the possible exception of the bullies, and most of them were white. I'm white, but not one of the bullies.

The Axe

The first thing that came to mind was Jack Nicholson playing Jack Torrance in Kubrick's 'The Shining', making a bee-line for that axe.

Trouble, right here in Norfolk City!

This boy’s knickerbockers look decidedly as though they have been buckled below the knee.

What this inevitably calls to my mind

For me, this photo immediately evokes well-known pictures of segregated drinking fountains -- remembered from my own Southern childhood. This one is not labeled "Whites Only" -- because the whole school would have been segregated.

Law Firm

Dewey, Cheatham and Howe.

Dirty Walls

She may have provided a good education, but did she teach the children to wash their hands? It appears dirty hands have been touching the walls and doors.


Whenever I see a photo of someone drinking from a water fountain back in the '30s, '40s, or '50s I often wonder what the temperature of said water was?

Was it room temperature? As I have seen in parks or community drinking fountains or is that a sort of insulation to keep the water chilled?

Me being a lad of the '60s enjoyed cold water in the halls of our schools, especially after a hard hour on the playground.


5L was taught by Miss Lillian Lee Cheatham, who died in 1952 of a heart attack en route to the hospital. I imagine she gave a great education to a couple (or more) of kids, like the lad in the photo.

Miss Cheatham's

Damoclean hatchet.

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