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The Smiths: 1942

May 1942. "Childersburg, Alabama. Cousa Court housing project for defense workers in boom area around the DuPont Powder Plant. The Smiths share the drudgery of housework, for they both have important war jobs." Photo by John Collier, Office of War Information. View full size.

May 1942. "Childersburg, Alabama. Cousa Court housing project for defense workers in boom area around the DuPont Powder Plant. The Smiths share the drudgery of housework, for they both have important war jobs." Photo by John Collier, Office of War Information. View full size.


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This photo is attached to the Smiths' memorial in Find A Grave.

Staged but sweet

Although likely staged, I find this photo quite endearing. Harkens to newlyweds or a couple that honestly "has it together." They look like nice people.

[You're confusing "posed" and "staged." - Dave]

A bit of black powder humor

"Defense workers in boom area around the DuPont Powder Plant."


Really Good Lighting

Can I just say, as a photographer, getting that lighting is really difficult. Back then, before fast film and even faster digital, lighting the scene required actual forethought. The shadow hits the left wall, so his face is in full illumination. But she is not eclipsed from lighting from behind. She is in a balanced glow of light. The whole scene is well illuminated. I used a flash frequently for a decade, from the mid 1990s through the mid-2000s, and I always had horrible results, no matter how much I tried to off-set or soften or bounce my flash. And I'm a good photographer. But flash photography nearly made me give it up (or just keep my work outdoors, during daytime). Thank goodness for high-speed digital sensors, allowing ambient and natural light to be captured "as is."

I congratulate the photographers of the pre-modern era. So should everyone.

1941 Ford

The car appears to be a 1941 Ford Tudor, similar to the car in the repair shop in the prior story.

Refrigerator dishes

She has a few glass refrigerator dishes with lids displayed on the top shelf. Nearly twenty years ago I found a set of four Martha Stewart fridge dishes at K-Mart. A large square one, a loaf-pan size, and two small square ones, all with matching glass lids. They're still like new and I use them constantly. Heavy glass, attractive and functional. A fine, ageless concept.

Childersburg powder plant

was where my father worked during WW2. We didn't live right there, but I still have his W-2s from the powder plant. They were handwritten at that time. The amount seems really small by today's standards, but it allowed my Mom to stay home with me at that time.

DuPont Smokeless Powder Plants

I used to have a high-level boss (he was a company VP) who started work at a DuPont smokeless powder plant about the same time as this picture was taken. He said they were very strict on matches and lighters, inspecting everyone daily upon entering the plant. One time violating the no matches rule got a reprimand, twice got you fired. One day he got called into the office and was told he was being assigned to a special job but they couldn't tell him anything about it. He was initially sent to Oak Ridge, Tennessee for training and then to Hanford, Washington where he was a reactor operator ("pile" operator in the terminology of the day) at the world's first full scale nuclear reactor (again, a "pile" in the day's terminology). 40 odd years later he was the VP for Reactor Operations at Hanford's ninth and last plutonium production reactor.

Please, please, please

I hope this charming man knows he has a wonderful woman.

Mrs. Smith

... is quite a dish herself.

Doing it for Uncle Sam

Like many Americans, the Smith's Smiths are doing their part for the war effort. Both have good paying jobs working at the DuPont Powder Plant in Childersburg, Alabama. Mrs. Smith works nights, which gives Mr. Smith plenty of time to explain water rationing as well as demonstrating how to properly draw blackout curtains to Miss Jones.

Nice-looking couple

Hope they had a happy life and that their kids didn't come to blows over which football team to support, Auburn or Alabama.

Meter below the sink

Doubt that is gas meter based on piping size and connections. Has to be for water service.

[It's an "iron case" gas meter. - Dave]

That's how we did it back in my day

Given the gas meter is under the sink and the water heater is standing in the corner, I'm a little surprised Cousa Court is still there. Most of it is at the end of the street and turn right.

If Mrs. Smith is handing Mr. Smith a rinsed dish to dry, then the sink in front of her contains rinse water, meaning the other sink is washed dishes that are waiting to be rinsed. If I'm correct, why are they doing it the long way? Why doesn't Mrs. Smith wash a dish in her sink and then place it in a rinse water sink in front of Mr. Smith for him to retrieve and dry? I'm sure they've both had a long day and would like to sit down.

A song

If you stay
I'll stay right beside you
And my love
May help to remind you
To forget that
Work is a four-letter word

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