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We Met at Work: 1942

We Met at Work: 1942

October 1942. "Riveting team working on the cockpit shell of a C-47 transport at Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. The versatile C-47 performs many important tasks for the Army. It ferries men and cargo across the oceans and mountains, tows gliders and brings paratroopers and their equipment to scenes of action." View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information. Happy Valentine's Day from Shorpy!



I realize I am 8 years late to the party here, but one big thing in favor of a "historic" interpretation of this photo is how the reds just "pop" at you. You'll see it in any National Geographic from the early 1960s or before--back into the 1940s--or any color film of that period as well.

I bet there's a digital camera filter to get that effect, too (boy that would be fun), but it's a nice little "tell".

How planes are made

Yes this is how it is done still. It might surprise anyone who does not work in manufacturing how labor intensive building airplanes or most anything still is. Yes we have come a long way but there is no substitute for the human touch.

Pomposity deflated

This series of posts perfectly displays one way the site is so edifying and entertaining. Dave posted a beautiful, educational photograph, made an educated guess at the background and then graciously accepted a correction to a detail. He and others, in scholarly, civil fashion then made mincemeat out of a pompous nincompoop. Made. My. Day.

[As for me making a guess at the background, I just copied the LOC caption info. Which turned out to be wrong about what kind of plane this is. - Dave]

This picture is a fake?

Blame it on digital photography. Kids today are so used to digital photography, they have no idea as to the quality of film. As a professional photographer, digital doesn't come close. Most people today only use digital because it's faster, cheaper and uses less light. Digital is based on the amount and quality of the mega pixels, the size of the sensor and the size/quality of the lens. Film has many more variants; in the film alone the size, grain, speed all make a difference. Not to mention the camera, lens, etc. And the other submitter's right about the light and the ear, there's a big difference in the way film and digital captures light. Lastly, bobby sox were popular in many different colors (including purple) during the war, my mom had a drawer full.

Mom Bucked Rivets

My mother got her start at Boeing in the 1960's bucking rivets just as depicted in the photo. Only it was her holding the bucking bar, and the guy held the riveter.

Re: Not how airplanes are made.

Yes it was, and still is.

Look up "bucking bar".

You'd be surprised how hand-built even the most complex airliners are.

One of the joys..

of coming to this site, beyond the fantastic pictures, are the intelligent comments that often reveal even more about the subject. It is just as enjoyable to see comments that do exactly the opposite, and the ease with which the audience can put them in their place.

Beautiful picture, BTW. My great aunt was a "Rosie" and I have a whole photo album of her and her 'girlfriends' whooping it up in their off-time in exotic Wichita, KS (well, exotic when you've come from Sapulpa, OK, I guess).

Amusing Assumption

Ha! That assumption made a few posts ago is actually pretty funny. It reminded me of a Calvin & Hobbes comic from several year ago in which Calvin is looking at some old family photographs. He asks his father why the old photos are all black and white and only the newer pictures are in color. His put-upon father, acting as my own father did on occasion, explained to him that back then, color hadn't been invented yet. Not just color film, but actual color. Sky, grass, hair, skin and clothing only existed in various shades of gray so that's how it showed up in old photos, movies and TV shows. I'm sure Calvin's mom eventually straightened them both out.

As incredible as digital photography is, it's not really as big an improvement as it's been made out to be. Mainly it's just faster, and that's all that seems to matter much anymore. Working with film had a learning curve, you had to study what you were doing and over time you developed a skill that you didn't previously possess. Well geez...who's got time to screw with that anymore. You can just take a shotgun approach to photography now and if things still don't look right you can pump it up with editing software.

So when a beautifully lit, sharply focused, highly detailed, well composed, color saturated photo is seen now some people are going to assume that it had to have been taken recently and digitally manipulated. Because it looks so much better than the pictures they're taking with their cell phones.

Look at a zoomed in crop of the woman's ear in this picture. You can tell that the back lighting is actually passing through her ear. Her ear isn't just reflecting light, it's glowing. Many modern cameras are capable of recording this kind of subtlety and detail as well, but this photo says so much more about the photographer than the type of camera or film he used. That's not to say that these guys didn't have their own bag of tricks for developing and printing their photos that made them even more eye catching, but they didn't tend to be pasted together from the best parts of two or three individual shots.

Those kids think they are smarter than us...

>>That dude would be IN THE WAR.

That dude might had flat feet or tunnel vision. There were several men classified unfit for the duty, they didn't go home and cry about it. They went to contribute the war effort by working in the factories.

Interesting Reasoning

As a mere dabbler in the study of history, I was previously unaware that:

- Purple socks had either not yet been invented, or were banned from civilian use for some obscure wartime purpose

- The war resulted in the complete absence of all males from the industrial workforce.

Thank you, anonymous scholar, for your insights!

Wannabe photo expert

That's Kodachrome for you. A youngster that thinks he knows everything simply cannot accept film reproduction this accurate, that long ago. Clearly this person has just stumbled upon a site he knows nothing about.

Also, his accusations are ludicrous given what David Hall does for a living "off-line," where personal credibility must exist before anything said or written can be believed.

Very funny post, that.

Foy Blackmon


I've always been amused to see that the ladies in most of these pictures have quite obviously reapplied their lipstick for the camera. This one did not - and it sort of makes me wonder and giggle a little. Did she not want to be seen doing so in front of her male colleague?

This picture is fake.

Erm ... you might want to point out that this photo is

a) not vintage
b) staged
c) very much modern
d) not any of the things you say it is.

For example, the film is wrong. She's wearing purple socks. That dude would be IN THE WAR. Her rivet gun isn't attached to anything, and is the wrong make and model, not to mention about twenty years beyond the correct kind. That's not the cockpit of a B-25. her shoes are wrong. his pants are wrong. that's not how airplanes are made.

Come on. Seriously. It's a decent picture, but to claim that this is 'vintage' is utter bullshit.

[A not unusual comment from people who are

a) new to the site
b) ignorant of the history of photography
c) possibly ignorant in general.

(There is a (d) but this is after all a family newspaper.)

Alfred Palmer's large-format Kodachromes for the Office of War Information weren't "staged," they were posed, as studies for recruitment posters, exhibits, etc. It is one of many hundreds in the Library of Congress FSA/OWI archive. As for the riveter on the right, there were of course thousands of young men engaged in factory work during WW2 who were deferred from military draft because they were doing essential war work. And the woman's rivet gun is indeed attached (see below). As for the the plane not being a B-25, the commenter was right about that. It's a C-47. - Dave]

The plane

The plane in question is the cockpit windscreen of a C-47 transport, the plane that dropped paratroopers into Normandy in advance of D-Day.

[Indeed it is. A second photo of the riveter (see above) correctly identifies the plane. I fixed the caption, thanks. - Dave]

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