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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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T-Bone 50 Cents: 1939

T-Bone 50 Cents: 1939

May 1939. "Interior of hamburger stand. Waiting for customer. Alpine, Texas." View full size. 35mm negative by Russell Lee, Farm Security Administration.

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Anonymous Tipster correctly noted the lack of cleanliness in this establishment. It seems to extend to almost all aspects of life shown in Shorpy photos prior to about, oh, the 1940s. I keep looking at the floors and table legs and walls in all these photos, and they all appear dirty and scuffed. Shelving looks kluged together. And outside, the streets lack curbing and landscaping. Piles of scrap lumber, broken bricks, busted fences, peeling paint...Except for those 1920s shots of luxurious DC storefronts, they just didn't know how to make anything "nice." Wonder when and how things changed. And if they came back to life now, would those people think we live in a clean and neat paradise?

Mini cereal boxes

"Look at the top left shelf, they had those mini cereal boxes even back then."

Ah yes, the Kel-Bowl-Pac. I invariably sliced through the wax paper lining, and eventually the milk would leak out. But a man's reach must exceed his grasp...

Mabel Dreamed

Mabel dreamed of the day she'd be able to leave Alpine. Little did she know she'd dream of the day she'd be able to move back.

Good Honest Beer

Now there is a slogan I could get behind. I like this shot, it feels like a setup for a noirish misadventure.

Marvelous Malty Pep

Maybe she just hasn't eaten her cereal?


Hey cool! Look at the top left shelf, they had those mini cereal boxes even back then.

I see Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and Pep, can't read the other one.

Ans of course it's served with "Grade A Milk."

Don't look up.

Anonymous made me laugh out loud with the "grab a broom" comment, but I'd rather look down at the floor while I enjoyed my T-bone, Swiss cheese, and tomato juice than up at that precarious ceiling. It looks like it's coming down any minute!

Hey, Dave, any chance you can blow up the products on the shelf behind our Dreamy Counter Queen? Or reveal the name of the Good Honest Beer?

[Harry Mitchell's Good Honest Beer. - Dave]

Alpine, Anarene

Reminds me of the Anarene diner in "The Last Picture Show." All it needs is Eileen Brennan in an apron.


What a (as my mother would say) pigsty. Eating in this dump would be like eating in a tool shed. Instead of standing around looking dreamy, she ought to grab a broom.

Alpine Burgers

It could do with a bit of sprucing up while they're waiting. I wonder how old the place actually was, since it doesn't look new even in 1939.

Hamburger Heaven

Her halo has drifted up to the ceiling.

[The ectoplasmic tomato slice is what today would be called a hanging chad. The FSA photographers used a paper punch on their films rolls to indicate frames they didn't want printed. - Dave]

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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