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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • VITAL TO VICTORY: WWII

Office Xmas Party: 1925

Office Xmas Party: 1925

        It's the second Friday in December, which means it's time for a hallowed holiday tradition here at Shorpy: The Office Christmas Party! Which has been going on for 93 years now. Will Clarence in Sales ever get up the nerve to ask out Hermione from Accounting? Is there gin in that oilcan? Ask the bear.

December 1925. "Washington, D.C. -- Western Electric Co. group." There are enough little dramas playing out here to keep the forensic partyologists busy until Ground Hog Day. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.

 
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Never noticed this before

The men's jackets have creases running the length of the arms. I wonder if this was a customary thing for "the office" or typical treatment "of the times" for pressing? Perhaps this treatment was typical only of a worsted fabric?

Nothing but the best at Shorpy!!

Thanks for this expected post!

Department Name for Room 504

Western Electric Company
Installation Department
5th Floor
1319 F Street
Washington DC

(From the 1925 Washington City Directory)

This department installed Central Office equipment (testboards, operator switchboards, signaling equipment, etc) supporting both local and long distance telephone service.

Google street view has an office building that looks old enough to be our Christmas Office party location. Perhaps another Shorpyite can add the street view for us.

[It was built in 1913. Interestingly enough, it's just one building away from Harris & Ewing, another source of many Shorpy photos. -tterrace]

Doppelganger

The young woman framed in the door on the left looks remarkably like today's woman who was a business partner of mine.

Oh, Beautiful Lady in the Lower Left...

...let me unwrap that bear for you, before your nearby friend gets more worried that you're not having any fun.

An oilcan!

Now I know the perfect gift to get for all my co-workers. Merry Christmas Shorpy nation.

I look forward to these people each year

They've become familiar yet remain interesting. As I said years ago, we're testing the counter on this one.
Merry Christmas fellow Shorpyites and wish a grand New Year!

The lucky ones

Due to the magic of photography, this happy group has been celebrating now for ninety years. If you enlarge the picture and study their faces and demeanors, you may get some insight into their characters and personalities in 1925. After seeing this photo for many Christmases on Shorpy, I almost feel that I know some of them as well I know my own friends. Merry Christmas to all, especially the Shorpy staff.

Spooky Lady of Christmas Past

I remain endlessly curious regarding the woman with her back to the desk.

Spooky and haunting, amid all the fascinating characters in this classic shot, she is The One.

What are we missing?

Great photo, been seeing it for years now, but I always wonder what else was going on? People are looking left, right, straight, up, down. What was going on out of frame? That lady in lower left looks ready to bolt, especially with the other lady looking on concernedly. If this was a Halloween photo, the massacre would be about to begin.

I've been ill, and maybe delirious...

Festive Dress

The bald gentleman in the back has the best holiday hat I have ever seen, the festive Go Go hat atop his bald head.

Oh Christmas Twig! Oh Christmas Twig!

Considering it is 1925 and an urban area they probably had a hard time locating a showpiece Christmas tree. Probably the best they could do was this poor little immortalized twig.

294408

That's how many people have called up this photo. Over a quarter million! And this isn't YouTube. What an amazing picture. What an amazing site. Merry Christmas to all my Shorpy comrades and a huge thank-you to Dave and tterrace for all they do to bring this amazingness to us every day.

Now it is Christmastime for sure

I couldn't truly celebrate Christmas without seeing this picture again. It must be after Thanksgiving or Shorpy would not have posted it. Any comments I could make about this picture would only be a pale response to all the previous comments. It just makes me try to think what an office Christmas party like this must have been compared to a modern day party. I look forward to this picture every year for some crazy reason.

Room 504

Flip the photo horizontally, and you will see that we are on the 5th floor. Who can guess the "department" we are in?

The fun is over

Okay, we had our Christmas celebration, now everyone back to your desks and let's finish out the day at 5:00.

Yuletide

I heard Springsteen singing about Santa on my way to work, and now I see this. It is truly Christmastime now.

Merry Christmas, George Babbitt

The guy on the right, in front, with the grand forehead, holding the stogie, reminds me of Sinclair Lewis's protagonist in "Babbitt" (1922):

"He was the modern business man; one who gave orders to clerks and drove a car and played occasional golf and was scholarly in regard to Salesmanship. His head suddenly appeared not babyish but weighty, and you noted his heavy, blunt nose, his straight mouth and thick, long upper lip, his chin overfleshy but strong; with respect you beheld him put on the rest of his uniform as a Solid Citizen."

It was ninety years ago today ...

... and the photo never ceases to give.

Must have been a heck of a party

All the way in the back is a tall bald man with a traffic signal on his head! That's better than a lampshade. The body language between the woman on the far left and the woman to her right who is glaring at her is really very sad. You wonder what sort of ugliness was going on behind the scenes. The lady looks like she's been crying a bit. Who knows. It's fascinating to see such a candid photo none the less.

Tough Day At The Office?

The best part about these office parties are the grab bags. It's always the best way to regift. Other than that, I hope Dave, Ken, tterace and all our outstanding commentators and readers have a wonderful holiday and a healthy prosperous New Year.

Re 2%, and Raise your glasses

I think glasses were considered unattractive. I remember lots of members of this generation (my grandparents') or the next who would whip off their glasses whenever someone raised a camera.

Finally

Shorpy's annual "Office Xmas Party" has arrived! There's my guy standing in the back row, far left still waiting for me. Swoon.

Happy Holidays, Shorpyites!

And thank you, Dave, for all that you do.

I have to ask

Does "Office Xmas Party" have the largest amount of comments?

[That record might be held by Our Lady of Lourdes School. Another much-commented post was The Beaver Letter. - Dave]

Wee fish, ewe, a mare, egrets, moose

... and a hippo gnu year!

Roaring Twenties!

Thanks for this flash-back, Shorpy!
Love the very mysterious Lady on the left...
and still dislike that pompous guy with the cigar.

Hours and hours

I, like so many others here, have spent hours with this image. I'm always drawn back to the woman in the lower left. She's always struck me as the office outcast trying to get out of the picture. The woman to the right of her, with the lace collar, looks like her boss giving her the stink eye for not participating.

Threadbare Boughs

Now I know where Charlie Brown got his tree. Merry Christmas everyone!

Thanks again!

This is now my official notification that the Xmas season has begun. The Office Party re-post.

One must wonder

if oiling the bear will make the Yuletide bright?

Modern Woman

+89

Do they know?

The standing gal, 3rd from the left, and the kneeling gal (center and one row back) both have the same necklace on (7 little cascading chains ending in a pearl). I think that the boss-man, J. Edgar Hoover (on the right with the cigar), is having an affair with both of these gals and he gave them both the same necklace. He thinks it's really funny and smiles when he sees them together; his own little private joke! I wonder if the gals know and are just playing him for whatever they can get? We will never know for sure.

What's with the oil can?

I understand the Teddy Bear and little house in the front of the photo. But what is the significance of the Christmas Oil Can?

[Yet another beloved Christmas legend inspired by this photo. -tterrace]

Merry Christmas Shorpyites

Merry Christmas to one and all, fans of the photos posted in Shorpy. Thanks to Dave and everyone who helps out with the site.

I hope the new year is good to all and everyone will be back next Christmas to view Xmas Party.

I've been a member for 3 years, 2 days and anonymous for several before that I think.

Glad for Trad

It's truly a fun Shorpy-looker tradition to view this pic large and spend an hour time traveling and reading the comments. Hope everybody had a Groovy Solstice yesterday. Happy Holidays!

Time for a Shorpy Xmas party!

I think we are overdue to have one where we all meet and discuss THIS picture (because with 150 comments, we clearly have a lot on our minds about this W.E. holiday soiree).

G-man

I had to do ctrl-f for all three pages, and I'm amazed that no one to date has identified J. Edgar Hoover standing in the front row, cigar butt in hand, between vest-and-watch chain guy and three-piece suit guy. I can't believe I didn't notice him when I first commented three years ago.

Tradition

I can almost hear Tevya, singing the song in "Fiddler On The Roof", but not quite. It is of course the Holiday Season, office parties and good will to men and of course women. It is time for us Shorpy Junkies to wish each other the best of the season. Good health, prosperity and peace to all. Thanks to our Hosts Dave and Ken and to our interlocutor terrace for their grand efforts.

Cheers!

Thanks for posting again, this is one of my favourite pictures on Shorpy. Some odd Barnets going on with some of the women though...I'd love to know if there was a gramophone at this party and if so, what the playlist was.

Dean Norris

Ah, it wouldn't be Christmas without this delight from Shorpy!

The guy behind the big boss's left shoulder looks like a sightly younger version of actor Dean Norris. According to IMDB, Dean Norris was born in 1962 or 1963, but if this post on Shorpy is any guide, he's at least 100 years old. Is he pretending to be younger than he really is? And what's the secret of looking so young?

Sic transit ursus

I love the Shorpy Christmas party! This guy still startled me when I spied him on the floor, despite the fact that I commented on him FIVE YEARS AGO.

Hair dressers

Who did the hair styles back then, terrible......

Hey, long time listener, first time caller!

I wonder if camp Pierce Brosnan (top row, far left) found the Ion Deptartment accepting of his flamboyant wonderfulness.

Times they don't change

The women definitely place this picture in time by their clothes and hair. The men, especially the back row, center in photo, remind me of my father's photos of the late 1950's. It's all quite timeless.

No one seems to have noticed

but the shy guy in front of GO GO is none other than Irving Berlin, on a guided tour of the Western Electric facility and already evidencing the reclusiveness of his later years. At uppermost left, we have the mustachioed miscreant looking disdainfully at those beneath him, which is everyone. And finally, we have Grishkin at lowermost right, a rather handsome woman whose lean and hungry look hath a troubled aspect not customarily associated with holiday gatherings (apart from those with family members present). She seems to have wandered in from one of those Russian plays that Ira Gershwin makes reference to.

All of which can only mean one thing - it's Christmas time here at Shorpy's. Greetings and salutations to all!

White Elephant Gift Exchange

I going with a White Elephant Gift Exchange for an Office Christmas Party. It explains the goofy gifts and the attire. Some of the exchanged presents still have tags on them.

Tales from the Jazz Age

I'd like to take a crack at imagining who some of these people could be --

Oil Can Girl (seated at bottom, center) - Never turns down a chance to cut a rug at a speke. Very generous with the contents of her hip flask, which in a pinch can supply fuel for her sometime-boyfriend’s Hupmobile.

Desk Girl (seated at bottom, left) - Staring intently at a winged, two-horned leopard and wondering if she should jump up and scream at everybody to run for their lives.

Lace Collar Girl (two left from Oil Can Girl) - Wondering why Desk Girl is staring so intently at the office kitty-cat.

Time Warp Girl - (immediately above Desk Girl) - Up until a few weeks ago was a liberal arts major at an Ivy League university in the year 1969, then stumbled through a time portal into 1925. Decided to stay and get a job because, well, things are a lot less crazy here.

Starlet Girl - (above and to the right of Time Warp Girl) - Avid reader of Photoplay, Picture-Play, Screenland, Movie Weekly, Movie Mirror, and lots more. Passionately believes that her good looks could bring her fame in Hollywood, if only she could manage to stop tossing money away on magazines and save up for the train fare.

Hat Girl (immediately above Starlet Girl) - Took a few slugs from Oil Can Girl’s hip flask, now having trouble remembering her name.

Trashed Girl (immediately to the right of Hat Girl) - Took even more slugs from Oil Can Girl’s hip flask, but still conscious enough to realize that if she stops leaning on the girl below her, she’ll tumble to the floor.

Handsome Guy (standing in the back, left side, farthest left) - All the office girls have swooned over him at one time or another. Been engaged six times, but it always breaks off when he tells his bride-to-be that his mother will be living with them.

New Pretty Girl - (third from left, standing) - Just started work this past month. Soon to be Handsome Guy’s next ex-fiancee.

Wow, this is way too long already. Anyway, you get the idea. This is fun!

This photo

is what prompted me to make an account on Shorpy. The first thing that jumped out at me was, is that a man in drag standing with his hand on the young lady's shoulder? The lady in question looks a bit like Drew Barrymore.

I noticed the indentations between the eyes of many of the men, and realized that they did take their glasses off for the photo, to minimize glare. No featherweight lenses in those days!

Colorized Version Hidden in Plain Sight

Check out https://www.shorpy.com/node/11937 for colorized version in Colorized Photos by members. Dave, do I get a prize for finding it?

An Evocative Photograph

The romance of old photographs is especially powerful in a picture like this. Studying the faces of what we assume are long departed strangers, we can't help speculating about the nature of their inner lives and how things turned out for them. Who ended up married to someone who made them happy or miserable? Which one(s) got ahead and who descended into poverty? Who died young - and so on?

With hindsight we know that only a few years after that Christmas party in 1925, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Then World War II winnowed out a great many - how did this group of individuals make out through all those difficult times? There are many such questions which occur to the curious.

This is an extraordinarily evocative photograph. The transience of everything is plain to see in this picture if you notice such things.

 
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