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Air Chief: 1941

Air Chief: 1941

September 1941. "In the living room of farm family, members of Boundary Farms FSA project. Boundary County, Idaho." Photo by Russell Lee, Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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I was thinking the box to the left of the radio was a battery, (because lots of rural folks still didnt have or trust electricity) {although there is a lamp, so I digress} but on closer examination it looks more like a speaker.

[The box is a box camera. Probably a Kodak Brownie. - Dave]

Long distance radio

It's unlikely that they were listening to Boise, which is 350 miles to the south. For "local" reception, they may be tuned in to Bonner's Ferry (the county seat), Spokane, southern British Columbia, or perhaps western Montana.

Oak Table

That's a beautiful table. May not be a Stickley, but a mission Stickley-style. I had a few. Solid as a rock.

What station were they listening to?

The radio is a Firestone Air Chief Model S-7427-8. This radio had two bands, shortwave and AM. Noting the position of the dial, it looks like the radio was tuned either on approx. 800 kHz AM or 9 mHz SW. At that time in Boise there was the AM station KEST at 790 kHz.

Dark Twilight Outside

There is something in this photo that conveys a kind of sweetness: not the cloying kind, but kindness, wholeness, and hopefulness. The starched curtains and doilies, carefully starched and ironed in front of spotlessly clean windows; the ceramic pups; the snapshot of two little boys in front of an old-fashioned porch—all inside of what is surely a warm home, while outside there is a dark twilight. Then we look at the date—September 1941—and we realize that for this home and for so many others in America, their calm world is soon to change forever.

It's curtains

Swiss Dot Priscillas ... the lady of the house was both aesthetically and fashionably inclined, and everything looks immaculate. Was it for the photo shoot, or an everyday thing? I am inclined to believe the latter.

No Parking

The dog hydrating the fire hydrant is actually an ashtray.

To the left of the radio

Is that a box camera?

Pontiac AIRCHIEF Radio

Your caption reminded me of some mid-30's Pontiacs that had "AIRCHIEF" radios. Here is a photo of one. In the 30's, most car radios (Pontiac's anyway) weren't in the dash - they were mounted under the dash on the driver side firewall, with the speaker opposite on the passenger side. There was a little radio control module in the center of the dash, with a volume control wire and a flex cable which tuned the radio. Pretty elaborate setup, but then radios were pretty important "back in the day."


When I was little we had a similar AM/Shortwave radio. I tried many times but cannot recall ever finding a shortwave signal ... in Chicago.

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