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Lunch Meet: 1942

July 1942. "Lunchtime in the wartime capital. People's Drug store on G Street N.W. at noon." Acetate negative by Marjory Collins for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

July 1942. "Lunchtime in the wartime capital. People's Drug store on G Street N.W. at noon." Acetate negative by Marjory Collins for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Conundrum's conundrum

Conundrum, here's an article about the history of lunch counters at drug stores. They sounded like the fast food of the time - a quick lunch while you're shopping for other things.

As for the people in line, I suspect they were crowded because Washington DC grew enormously during WW2. The influx of people must have overwhelmed the existing restaurants, and July 1942 may have been too soon for new restaurants to open.

The Happy Couple?

Although this photo doesn't have the intrigue of our favorite office Christmas party, we do have the two people at the counter who are not stuffing their faces but are participating in a stare-down. What's going through their minds? Are they a married couple, communicating with their facial expressions? Since they both are pretty blank, I doubt it. She seems to have raised eyebrows. Maybe it's an office romance. Is she saying, "We've got time before we have to get back to work." Maybe they're strangers just trying to figure each other out. Then, there are the man and woman behind them waiting not so patiently, trying to burn holes in the back of the sitting people heads with their stares, particularly the woman. You know she's thinking, "If you're done, would you get up already and get a room. I'm hungry." And the guy with his hands on his hips is about ready to pull someone out of their seats if they don't hurry up.

There's a lot going on here for such a simple picture.

Pure Americana


Perhaps it's just my little area of Canada, but I've never seen a drugstore here with a lunch counter or serving milkshakes and floats. My experience goes back to the 1950s.

It was the department stores that had the lunch counters, plus of course regular restaurants which also had booths and/or tables. And lining up to get service while people slowly ate their way through a sandwich or piece of pie just was never on. If it was that busy, you'd find somewhere else as there was plenty of choice.

Different country, different mores.

Front of People's #7

As an add-on to sshistory's comment below, Shorpy and Dave posted a pic of the front of People's #7 circa 1920 back on 11/27/2009 here:

A Rare Non-Sighting

My completely unscientific impression is that this is the only known Shorpy picture of any establishment that doesn't feature a Coca Cola sign on, in or near the premises. How did Coke's marketing department, omnipresent even in 1942, miss these folks?

[They didn't. ICE COLD. - Dave]

Odor Sweet

I reversed an image in a mirror. I'm at a loss as to what products would be stocked under the heading "Odor Sweet." It's not a great hook phrase for perfume.

Thanks, Dave, for identifying the product. I'm gonna stick with my current deodorant, No Stink.

People's #7

Located at 1100 G Street NW across 11th Street from the Woodward & Lothrop department store, making it a very popular lunch spot. The building was razed in the mid 1960s.

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