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Cold Comfort: 1938

Cold Comfort: 1938

New York, summer 1938. "Street vendor of shaved ices." View full size. Medium format nitrate negative by Jack Allison for the Farm Security Administration.


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Street Vendor

The setting looks to me like central Harlem, hence my question, but I don't recognize the exact buildings. The area around 133rd and Lenox was blown away in the late 1950s to make way for Lenox Terrace, so perhaps they don't exist any more.

There are some buildings that look like this around 138th and St. Nicholas also. If the weather allows, perhaps I'll check those out this weekend and try to find a match.


Street Vendor

Is there any further hint in the archives about where precisely this photograph was taken?

[Unfortunately no. There is another photo of a street vendor taken by Jack Allison, showing a peanut wagon at Lenox Avenue and 133rd Street. - Dave]

The King of Corona

Lemon Ice King of Corona

Mr Mel, you must be thinking of the Lemon Ice King of Corona. He's still around, making Italian ices with real fruit juice, or so I hear; I haven't made it out to Corona yet, myself.

Italian Ices

Italian ices are not shaved ice. They are made much differently. Crushed ice, not shaved ice, is used along with real fruit juice flavors, lemon being the favorite. The product was shoveled and tamped down into a corrugated paper cup, but also sold in the 1940's for 2 ,3, or 5 cents. The best I ever had came from a storefront in Corona, Queens, I believe it was called the Ices King, but it cost more than a nickel.

Hokey Pokey Man

This vendor would be called a Hokey Pokey Man in New York of the prewar era.

Shaved ices

Shaved ices, also called snow cones, consist of very fine, often sort of slurried, bits of ice packed into a paper cone or cup, and soaked with sugary flavored syrup---a treat much beloved among American youth in warm weather.

[I might add that a true shaved ice is made by shaving slivers off a large block of ice with a metal scraper, as this man is doing with something like a cheese grater. - Dave]

Shaved Ice

Shaved ice = Sno-Cone, Italian ice. Looks like a pretty prosperous part of Uptown. Even the little girl has nice clothes and shoes ... and 2,3 or 5 cents to spare. Also nice cars on the street and well-dressed (if way too warmly) background lady.

Check out the cuff

Look how nicely he's dressed!

[Shoes, too. A class act. - Dave]

Cold Comfort

A pretty cool ice cream cart. But what are shaved ices? Not a term used in the UK.

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