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Movie Night: 1942

Movie Night: 1942

February 1942. "Tulare County, California. FSA farm workers' camp. At the movies." Not to be outdone by our previous FSA photo, we have two birders here, and three birds! Medium format acetate negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Birds aside

Why are the three kids in the foreground looking at something to our left while all the people behind them are looking off to our right? And why is the kid front and center in the ratty sweater wearing a white glove on one of his hands cupped over his mouth?

[We'll never know! - Dave]

I think I see the third

And by a girl! She's on the left-center of the photo, with a kind of crazy look in her eyes.

Re: Third Bird

I see a third, about 7 rows from the front, near the left side. And that plaid shirt (behind Double Flipper) has seen better days, for sure!

The Third Bird

Has no one spotted it?

Multiple Avian Display

The double bird and the double dog dare were kept in a boy's arsenal only to be deployed when the situation warranted an extreme measure.

Maybe it was a newsreel

… and the kid up front is just expressing his opinion of der Fuhrer.

Kid near the foreground, left of center

Everybody calls him "Red".

Movin' on up

... the Valley: A double-bird ?? Lord, that boy is Folsom Prison bound !!


As a youngster in the 1950s when living overseas, I learned birding the way Flipper and Two-Birds are doing it. When I first got to the States in the very early 1960s is when I learned that American teenagers did it differently. They folded the fingers into the palm of the hand instead of squashing them straight down. Haven't a clue how adults did it since we never associated with them!

Taking a random sample of folks of various ages from teenage to 70+, all seem to have learned and use the folded fingers versus squashed fingers gesture. Wonder when Americans changed from what is shown in the 1940s to what I learned in the early 1960s.

Long-lived 16mm

That looks very much like the 16mm projector that I used to show movies for my Army company in 1970. (It was a way to avoid guard duty.) They were regular Hollywood films in the 16mm format. This FSA crowd is probably watching something similar.

Portable 16mm sound projectors were popular from the 1930s to the advent of video cassette players. Beyond that, 16mm film was used for the early seasons of 'Sex and the City' and 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and for parts of the films 'The Hurt Locker' and Spike Lee's 'Da 5 Bloods' in 2020.

Two "Thumbs" Up!

Apparently the young man inn the foreground is doubly displeased with what he's seeing on the big screen.

Two birds, four eyes

I see (at least) two people with strabismus in the crowd.

I ain't touchin' that!

Judging by the looks on some of their faces, the film must be the one about STD's.

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