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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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Back to School: 1962

Back to School: 1962

December 1962. I'm a junior in high school, and during Christmas break a chum and I revisit the grade school we graduated from two and a half years earlier. Lo and behold, there we find, in our old classroom, our eighth grade teacher, in mufti, along with his wife and daughter. "With a little more effort and attentiveness, Paul can accomplish much more than he presently is," is what he'd written on my report card in 1960. Man, did he have me figured. Check out my then-de rigueur white-socks-with-black-loafers and semi-peg pants. I was bound and determined to at least not dress like a dork. Self-timer Kodachrome with my new Retinette, its light leak as yet undiscovered and casting a fog on my friend. View full size.

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Tempus fugit

I just received word that my friend in this photo has passed away. R.I.P. buddy.


I just showed my wife this photo, and she knew the name of the man you're leaning on. He was her teacher too.

Not much has changed...

Just so you know, I was in grade school in the 1990s and we STILL had those desks! By that time the whole desk was covered in scratches of what kids thought would be funny jokes.

Still, in 1994, there were students trying to figure out how to even sit in such a contraption - I don't even want to think about the challenges of a poor left handed student!!!


Second seat, far left row. Principal came in, whispered something to Miss Winkleman. She sobbed, the principal said something to us.

That's exactly the image that this picture (taken about one year earlier) brings to my mind.

Colorblind Designers

We had a few of those American Seating desks in our grade school, although the colors were melon (with a hint of Crayola "Flesh" color) and battleship grey, rather than pepto-salmon and blue. The most common desk we had was the steel grey non-pivoting seat model something like this one, only less cheaply-made looking and more stylish. Do grade students not get their own desks these days? Or do they carry everything to and from school every day in their backpack?

Sheer madness

The ice cube segment of "Frigidaire Finale" is why they invented the term "subtext."

The Sheer Look: 1957

a.k.a. "Frigidaire Finale." I am sure our knowledgeable 1950s-philes can provide some informed metacommentary here.

A Touch of Magic: 1961 Motorama

"This dream house you and I will share was planned for us by Frigidaire."

Design for Dreaming: 1956 Motorama

American Look: 1958

Content under pressure

Oh cripes, that made me take another look at that shot; is there any record of someone being Farked twice?

[Not yet! - Dave]

Larkspur Casuals

I think the pose fits right in with this 1958 ad. Click below to enlarge. (Little did you realize, on that December day in 1962, you weren't just snapping a photo. You were generating "content.")

Classroom answers

This is at LCM (Larkspur-Corte Madera) School at 20 Magnolia Ave. in Larkspur. It's still there, but no longer used as a school; since 1979, the district has been leasing it out as office space to education-oriented organizations, in accordance with the provisions of the original land deed. When I was there it was still full K-8. Neil Cummins in Corte Madera had opened the year after my kindergarten class, and Henry C. Hall the year before my 8th grade.

Those were new desks. The ones I remember from all through my time at LCM were like these, complete with the hole for the inkwell. The last time we used those was in fifth grade, 1957.

The less said about our poses the better.

I can't help but note

I can't help but note that while your friend looked about 13 or 14, you look about 25......Now, be honest. Just how many times DID you repeat 7th grade?!
Okay, I was just kidding. Nice pic. I can smell the hot lunch from the cafeteria down the hall, the sweaty gymnasium, the musty library, even the dry scent of the principal's office...

Meanwhile, on the East Coast...

My memories of elementary school in the '60s are a bit different. I attended a school built right after the Civil War, with rows of wooden desks bolted to the floor. We folded the seats back at the end of the day so the janitors could sweep, and I remember being so preoccupied one morning that I fell on the floor because I forgot to fold my seat down before sitting. A good laugh was had by all (except me).

Well, it only took 40 years....

To solve the mystery of my first-grade desk. I thought it was a torture device, designed to get me in trouble with the teacher for making noise in class. It's actually an adjustable desktop to make writing easier. Not only did I wrestle with it every time I opened it, it squeaked loudly as well.

Aspiring Models?

A great picture that captures the true essence of classrooms in the 60's, I can even smell the crayons and the cedar pencil shavings in the sharpener, but I can't help but notice the stance on both you and your chum. Your postures certainly look like those of the models I see on the Victoria's Secret runway shows. Were you two, by any chance, doing part-time modeling for local advertisers? In any case, I had to look up the meaning of "in mufti", so I don't really know everything (as I thought I did) and your teachers' comments regarding your innate intelligence have turned out to be prophetic, judging by your fine photography, general knowledge and ability to capture these incomparable Kodak moments. Thanks for yet another welcome picture.

You Rock.

I love this photo. It looks like an album cover.


Is that Henry C Hall or Neil Cummings School? I think it looks like Hall, but it's been a while so maybe I'm forgetting.

Desk Hazard

Oh no! I remember those desks with the tilt-tops. Many times my finger or palm would get pinched in the operation of pushing it down. To say nothing of the hazard of "falling into" the desk and having it clamp onto you or your clothes. I saw that happen in a fight between two kids--not a good sight. Illogical that the closing area would be out of sight yet right in front of you at the same time.

That lavender hue makes me think of Mimeograph paper and the smell of the fluid needed to print up division tests and the like. Things really are so different now.

[More of a Pepto-Bismol pink, I think. - Dave]

Grade Schools

Did they have separate schools for Grades 7-8 ? When I was at Cherryland (Hayward) and Olive (Novato) in 1955-57 those were 1-6 (me being in 2-4). Also, those desks look more convenient for the "duck-and-cover" practice of that era than what we had. (Brought only to mind as the photo is a mere 2 months after the Cuban Missile Crisis!)

Neat? Or Beat?

We had those desks in sixth grade. Below: 1960 ad for same.

Amazing non-Colorization

Bravo! I love the colors of this photo. I am truly amazed at the capabilities of 1960s Kodachrome combined with a standard issue Retinette. Also, great work of the photographer to capture such an emotional expression of poses and faces. True Americana.

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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