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Sidewalk Squadron: 1942

July 1942. "Detroit, Michigan. Boys and a girl on bicycles." 4x5 inch acetate negative by Arthur Siegel for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

July 1942. "Detroit, Michigan. Boys and a girl on bicycles." 4x5 inch acetate negative by Arthur Siegel for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Crackerjack outfit

The guy on the left has a sailor hat and bellbottoms. Was there a high school Naval ROTC equivalent at the time?

Not an onion, but ...

with apologies to Abe Simpson, "So I tied a rock to my handlebars, which was the style at the time!"

My mom (b 1942) told me that in Des Moines in the '50s it was popular for girls to tie a thread around the neck of a dime store chameleon and pin the other end to your blouse so the little lizard could walk around on your shoulders.

Is that a rock?

Why hang a rock from your handlebars? And if it's something else -- what is it?

[The girl has one, too! - Dave]

Rubber shortage

Glancing at the front bike tires made me think of rubber rationing and if bike tires were rationed. Of course. Immediately after Pearl Harbor ALL rubber was rationed/banned for most civilian use from tires to hot water bottles to rubber shoe soles.

I had never heard of these but there were Victory Bicycles built during the war to aid with transportation. Less metal by weight, elimination of the frills, small amounts of strategic metals, narrower size tires. Neat photo today that had me diving into bikes in WW2.

Child retirees ??

We hear so much about restrictions on automobile tires during the war, but what about bike tires ? Were they similarly rationed, or was it just too minor an issue to bother with? (that would be hard to believe: it's seems like nothing was "too minor to bother with" during WWII.)

Waiting for someone to identify the models: I thought one was a Schwinn, but the spelling is wrong (unless they omitted one of the "N"'s as a wartime economy measure!)

[Roadmaster, Winton, ???, Roadmaster. - Dave]

Bell Bottom Blues

Sailor, Tuck in those pant legs, or else a member of the Sidewalk Squadron is going to make unwanted contact with it!

Bike Breeds

Two Cleveland Welding Company (CWC) "Roadmaster" bikes (one slightly older) ca. 1937-1941. From the Vintage American Bicycles website, "CWC started producing bikes in September of 1935." The third boy's bike appears to be badged Winton, though that company stopped making bicycles before 1900; but hundreds of badges were placed on various makers' models. Cannot ID the girl's bike, but it is certainly the de rigueur 1940s "girly" color model.

Remember the days when your bike handles fell off and you were left with cold steel?

Captions Matter

In regards to GlenJay's comment: having slogged through 12 linear feet of uncataloged negatives and prints in a local museum, I can verify that even a bare bones caption dramatically reduces a researcher's workload.


I had (actually still have) one of those horns on my bicycle which I got around 1948. No batteries required and really LOUD.

Omira Avenue??

Brick house on the right a spitting image for my grandmother's house. Same pipe fence around the pride-and-joy 6-foot lawn.

Thanks for that caption, FSA!

Without it, I would never have realized I was looking at boys and a girl on bicycles.

[The captions are a finding aid for researchers who may not have access to the negatives they describe, or to avoid having to take the negative out of its sleeve, and also because it can be hard to figure out what you're looking at in a negative image. - Dave]

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