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War News: 1942

April 1942. "Wisdom, Montana. The Ansons visit their daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Len Smith." Acetate negative by John Vachon for the Office of War Information. View full size.

April 1942. "Wisdom, Montana. The Ansons visit their daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Len Smith." Acetate negative by John Vachon for the Office of War Information. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Blurry heater?

The blurry object in the right foreground might be a gas or electric heater, very useful in Montana.

Had to do a double take.

After looking at the object on the desk and thinking it was some kind of streamline mouse, I finally figured out that it's a blotter. For when you're writing letters at that lovely desk.

Also doesn't look to me as if sis is wearing her apron from doing dishes looks more like she's getting ready to cook dinner because i do believe that is a handwritten recipe book in her lap.

["Sis"? That's Len's wife. - Dave]
My dad often called my sisters quote 'sis'; I even had a cousin Sis.

The Front Page

Family of readers.

On the far right, we see glimpses of the daughter, who appears to be going through the mail. What a bunch of readers they all are. The radio was probably also on. Mom being forced to sit on the tuffet seems harsh though.

[Daughter is in the middle. Mrs. Anson is at far right. - Dave]

A surfeit

of lamps!

What is that apparatus?

Is that an accordion or an organ in the lower right?

Strategic Outcome of the Raid

It was the Doolittle Raid that convinced the Japanese military leadership to increase their Pacific defensive zone - hence the attack on Midway Island in June of 1942. That disaster was the turning point in the Pacific war and marked the outward boundary of the Japanese conquests in WWII.

Let there be Light

Must be a dark room. Five lamps! And that's just one corner of the room. Near the windows.

Life Magazine

The issue is dated March 9, 1942

Questionable framing

Mr Vachon probably regretted capturing so much of the top of the room at the expense of the lower parts where the people live. I'm curious what that blurry thing is in the right foreground -- thought for a while it might be an accordion, which would certainly liven things up. These people don't appear to be the big smokers that so many folks in Shorpy pix are -- there's maybe an ashtray on the desk, but it looks like it's used for something else.

I wouldn't call it "news"

The Time magazine issue Mr. Smith is reading is dated March 9, 1942.

[I wouldn't call it Time, either. - Dave]

Couldn't Mom have a chair?

Instead of making her sit on a tuffet? Even a kitchen chair would have been more comfortable. And she's still wearing an apron from doing the dishes!

[That's not Mom. - Dave]

Doolittle Raid

I'll get my comment in before the rush - I'm sure most Shorpy faithful know who and how Tokyo was bombed a mere four months after the war started. Pretty much the first bright spot for the US in WWII to offset the litany of setbacks, retreats and surrenders.

I sense tension in the room

Mr. Anson is unhappy about something, and is searching for just the right words to convey his thoughts to Mr. Smith. Meanwhile, Mr. Smith is pretending to be absorbed in his magazine as he awaits the complaint.

Sassy lookin'

Ceramic cat.

Doolittle Raid, James Doolittle and co-pilot Richard Cole

"War Information" in action. The headline has it: this was the Doolittle Raid of April 18, 1942, the first U.S. air strike on Japan. The low-level daylight attack killed 50, injured about 400, and did minimal physical damage; but the psychological effect was great on both sides--witness that headline.

The last survivor of the crew, co-pilot Richard E. Cole, died at 103 on April 9, 2019. In the photo below, pilot Lt. Col. James Doolittle is second, Lt. Cole fourth from left.

Month by Month With Vachon

Based on the last several posts, John Vachon apparently spent the winter and spring of 1942 touring the upper Midwest, sending back windswept snow scenes so chilling I shivered, and social suffocation scenes like this one that make me want to go out and walk down to the local tavern to escape. Coupled with the coy, on-the-road self portraits you've shown us before, I'm starting to regard him as a mythical, Everyman sort of character straight out of Kerouac. Can't wait to see where he's headed next.

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