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Let's Do Launch: 1943

Let's Do Launch: 1943

May 1943. "Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards, Baltimore, Maryland. Portraits of the workers who turn out 'Liberty' ship cargo transports, during lunch hour or on rest period." 4x5 inch acetate negative by Arthur Siegel for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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That's quite a collection of headgear. The man with the bill-less cap probably is wearing it backward, not because it was the style but possibly because he wears a welder's mask when he's working. Today you would probably see uniform OSHA-approved hard hats.
And you wouldn't see any cable-knit sweaters.

Good bunch of guys

There's lots of nice body language in this shot. I especially like the fellow, lower center, leaning back into the legs of the guy behind him, who is gesturing with a touch to the shoulder. And, of course, they are of different races -- in a time that racial segregation was widely legal and widely practiced.

Juan de la cruz is awesome

The photo with "What is being said"? is different from the original "Let's Do Launch". Either Mr. de la Cruz has astounding Photoshop skills or it is the second in a series of pix. Either way it is a personality plus photo.

[I added the photo to show what they were laughing at. - Dave]

Looks like Central Casting

Each one of these guys looks like some character actor. Especially the fellow in the white sweater, I'm sure I've seen him in a Bowery Boys picture.

The S.S. John W. Brown

was assembled at the Baltimore shipyard in 1942, and is one of two surviving fully operational Liberty Ships preserved in the United States. It is docked in Baltimore, and open for tours and living history cruises.

Waxed paper

When I was a kid we didn't have plastic sandwich bags. A sandwich wrapped in wax paper worked just fine. At the lunch table, I could lay it flat for a clean place to lay my lunch out on. Occasionally, I'll still wrap a sandwich in wax paper.

Brown bags

From what I can see, they all brown bag their lunch. I wonder why none of them has a black, domed top, metal lunchbox with a handle?

[Because when a metal lunchbox falls on your head from 50 feet up, it hurts. - Dave]

Point taken. The other observation I have is about the guy sitting fourth from the right, including the man sitting on the bottom step. I'm pretty sure he was a football lineman. He's a big guy and he's wearing what appears to be a varsity letter on his sweater.

What is being said

Would love to know what is causing all the smiles. What is the conversation.

If I had the editing skills, I'd add balloons to each of people with, starting from right to left: "Say what?" "Can't be true!" "He really did that?" "Yup, I saw him -- "

And then I run out of conversation. Someone else, with better imagination, can carry on.

Dave - Thank you for adding it. Wish I could take credit for it, but I can't. It is as fun a photo as the original. Lots of smiles. And I really wish I could hear the comments!

Short-lived but crucial

The Birmingham-Fairfield Shipyard existed for less than five years. It was one of two yards (the other in Portland, Oregon) constructed under the 1941 Emergency Shipbuilding Program. The emergency? Even though the U.S. was still officially neutral, it had to react to the severe losses of the British Merchant Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The Baltimore yard built Liberty Ships, eventually 384 of them, along with LSTs (Landing Ship, Tanks) and Victory ships.

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