JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Lucky Ducks: 1927

April 21, 1927. "Do ducks swim? Misses Eugenia Dunbar and Mary Moose." The main focus here is of course the horse trough, once a common item of street furniture in many big cities. National Photo glass negative. View full size.

April 21, 1927. "Do ducks swim? Misses Eugenia Dunbar and Mary Moose." The main focus here is of course the horse trough, once a common item of street furniture in many big cities. National Photo glass negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Quacking another Mystery.

The ducks are named "Diddles" (Dunbar) and Tommie (Moose), according to the caption from Acme Newspictures.


Okay, the girl on the left looks just like me, it's crazy!

Duck speed on land

It just struck me as funny that these girls have leashes on the ducklings. Back on the farm I would often see our two ducks waddling toward the barn, as I set out to get the cow and take her into the barn to milk her. By the time I was headed back to the house with the milk, or about 20 minutes later, the ducks would have waddled about five yards. Had those ducklings decided to make a run for it, I don't think the girls would have had much trouble catching them!

Melancollic Stranger

By lucky I get into this site, found this photo and suddenly I feel rarely sad and ... small (pequeño). I don't know how to explain, I don't even speak english very well. And is just this picture, I was captivated by it, it's so clear, so close. And then I see that date, and is so hard for me to accept that everything is gone, that she is not there, right know, with that smile. I'm not even suppose to be here, doing this, there is so much work to do, however I can't help my self, I needed to write this.

Olivia Eugenia "Gena" Dunbar Snell (1909-1967)

Many thanks to Erin Blakemore, professional genealogist Shanna Jones, and Gena's nephew Edward H. Dunbar, Jr. and his mom for their assistance with this research! I'd love to be able to say "Gena loved to..." but unfortunately, Edward Jr. says the relatives who could've filled in the gaps in her biography and told us more about her life & interests have all died.

Olivia Eugenia "Gena" Dunbar was born in Augusta, Georgia, on March 25, 1909, to William M. Dunbar Jr. and Carrie Eugenia Johnson. Gena was the first of six children (three boys and three girls), none of whom are living now. She turned 18 just one month before the photo was taken. Her youngest sibling, Edward, was about two years old at the time of the photo. He died at age 83 at the end of 2008, a mere two weeks before the photo was posted on Shorpy. Gena's mom, Carrie, was from a well-respected family in Gainesville, Georgia. Carrie's father, Fletcher Marcellus Johnson Sr. (1858-1914), was a judge, and her mother, Elizabeth Eugenia Sullivan (1861-1893), was a college professor. This branch of the Dunbar family was from Richmond County, Georgia (Augusta area), and nearby Barnwell & Edgefield counties, S.C.

In the mid-1920s, Gena's parents had temporarily settled in Washington, D.C., where William was working as a Maxwell House coffee salesman. Gena's nephew, Edward H. Dunbar Jr., says, "I was told that part of his job was the introduction of an 'instant' coffee product ... an endeavor which did not meet with success at that time," but concedes "I don't know about the accuracy of this. My father, who had a genuine interest in family history, also could exercise a rather impish sense of humor from time to time." His mother, though, confirms the story. Instant coffee existed but didn't really catch on until after World War 2.

Gena eventually married William Edward Snell (b. Sept. 21, 1905), whose family was from Gwinnett County near Atlanta, home to Snellville. Thereafter, Gena was known as Gena or Eugenia D. Snell. On May 19, 1932, she gave birth to their only son, William Edward "Bo" Snell, Jr., who eventually graduated from the University of Georgia and became a lawyer.

Gena's mom died at age 69 on June 5, 1955, in Augusta. Gena's husband died in Cobb County (Marietta area) at age 56 on Dec. 22, 1961. Gena herself died in Atlanta at age 58 on Nov. 17, 1967. Her son Bo died in Bar Harbor, Maine, at age 63 on Feb. 26, 1995.

Dupont Circle / Leiter Mansion

Thanks to research by Wikipedia user AgnosticPreachersKid, we can confirm the location is definitely the east side of Dupont Circle. The building in the background is the left side of the Leiter mansion, which until 1947 stood at the northeast corner of the circle. It's now the site of the Dupont Plaza Hotel, formerly known as Jurys Washington Hotel. Links: photo of the mansion exterior · blog post about the mansion · blog post about the site · Levi Leiter bio @ Wikipedia.

I suspect the streets have been widened since 1927; Google Street View today seems to show a narrower sidewalk at the location where the ladies would've been positioned:

View Larger Map
The sidewalks on Sheridan Circle, a few blocks away, are twice as wide, and more closely resemble the one in the photo. But there's no denying the photo was taken at Dupont Circle; too many details match up - tree branches, railed fence, fence column, balcony, position of street lamp; the shrubs were missing in 1927, but that's about it.


Does anyone know who the photographer was?

[The National Photo Service. - Dave]

Eugenia graduates

In the June 23, 1923, Washington Post, Eugenia is listed as graduating from the Peabody-Hilton School to Eastern High.

Eugenia Dunbar

This is Joe Manning. A few weeks ago, I requested the obituary for a Eugenia Dunbar, who died in Pasadena, CA, and was born in 1909. Bad news. The obit is not available. The only other scrap of info is this: In the 1920 census, there is a Rossie Dunbar, born in 1909 in North Carolina, attending the Industrial Home School in Washington, DC. That's the only Dunbar, born about 1909, in the 1920 DC Census. Anybody got any ideas?

Wow, and double wow

I wouldn't mind a date with either one of these beauties, although I'm kind of partial to Eugenia. Pick her up in the old Essex for a malt at the corner drug store, a couple of hours at a dance (maybe the one mentioned in her poem?), and then down to the local motion picture palace to catch the latest Clara Bow movie.

Birds of a Feather

Eugenia is too young to have been the Flamingo dancer. If she was 17 in September 1926, she was born in 1908 or 1909. Your showgirl was born in 1904, and I don't believe any showgirl would add five years when telling her age!

Lucky Ducks Take 2

I found another photograph of Misses Dunbar and Moose here.

The second picture was taken just before or after the one here on Shorpy; their poses (including those of the ducks) have barely changed. What has changed is that both ladies are looking into camera with rather sultry expressions – oh you kid(s)!

It is interesting that the quality of this second picture is far poorer than Shorpy’s standard (it’s fuzzy with too much contrast) despite the site’s rather pleasing magnifying feature. It just goes to remind me what an outstanding site Shorpy is – cheers Dave!

[That image was made from a print, as opposed to ours, which comes from the original negative. - Dave]

From ducks to flamingos?

The Las Vegas Sun and the Las Vegas Review-Journal of April 21, 1999 each had an obit for a Eugenia Dunbar McCall, age 95. Obviously I don't know if she's the same person, but "she was a retired Flamingo Hilton showroom waitress of more than 30 years."

Somehow I can picture this Eugenia ending up at the Flamingo in Las Vegas.

A real ringer - Mary

If I didn't know better, I'd swear that Mary Moose above was the woman I dated for nearly 2 years at the beginning of this decade.

Her name was Marie - she was 24 years old when we started dating, 5' 3", about 110 pounds, short light auburn hair, big piercing blue/gray eyes and identical features to Ms. Moose. Shoot, they even dress(ed) the same when stepping out.

What a jaw dropper seeing this picture - Marie passed away from throat cancer at the age of 29 in late 2007.

Just a touchingly timeless image, at least for me. Thanks again for the wonderful work, Dave.

Eugenia Dunbar

I also found Eugenia Dunbar's Pasadena death record, so I immediately requested the obit from the Pasadena library. They said it takes three weeks. Who knows, maybe she didn't get married, or otherwise kept her maiden name. I am hoping the obit will confirm whether she's the one.

Right for me

It looks like I am the only one more smitten by the girl on the right.

Eugenia and Mary again

Dave, I looked them up by their birth names. This was the only Eugenia Dunbar that came up, so I'm pretty confident in that one.

[Where was Eugenia born? - Dave]

Eugenia and Mary

Eugenia Dunbar, born April 18, 1909, died September 13, 2000, Pasadena California. Eugenia was living somewhere in Wisconsin during the mid 1930s or early 1940s.

Mary Moose: This might not be her, but it could be. Mary Moose, born April 27, 1909, died sometime in January, 1981 in Tennessee. That Mary fits a lot of the patterns, but she was both born in Tennessee, was again living in Tennessee in the late 1930s-1940s period, and died there.

If that's not our Mary, then I think her name is slightly misspelled, and it's actually Mary MUSE, born November 20, 1908 (in Northern Virginia), died (still in Arlington, Virginia), July 27, 1998. She seems to have lived most of her life in the DC area.

[After these girls got married, which seems likely, they'd have different names. Which is the reason it's hard to dig up reliable information about women when all you have to go on is a maiden name. Dunbar and Moose are mostly likely the married names of Pasadena Eugenia and Tennessee Mary. - Dave]

A new dimension

Beautiful and talented, our Miss Dunbar was. I think it's interesting to see another dimension of someone who was never a celebrity (not that I'm aware of, anyway), but just a regular person. Do you think she imagined that a poem she penned for a newspaper contest to win a dollar would be read 80-odd years later? Not Dickinson, but pretty darn good for a 17-year-old. There's some really good imagery there in the first stanza. It is certainly better than anything I might have composed when I was 17.

Of course, one now wonders what sort of hidden talents did her friend Mary have?

If you subtract everything ...

from this photo except Miss Eugenia - dressed just as she is - it looks like a photo of a young woman taken only yesterday. I have seen my own 30+ year old daughter-in-law dressed nearly identically, and the hair style is in no way dated. Now that is rare in a photo that is 80 years old.

What time of year is this?

I notice the attractive young ladies have coats and it appears the wind is blowing but the two younger girls in the back are wearing sundresses.
The trough reminds me of my paternal grandfather. He drove horse drawn beer wagons for many years because not for tradition; his brother-in-law owned the warehouse and he was a drunken Irishman. My other grandfather was a railroad conductor, luckily I caught the train bug and not the drinking bug.

There is so much to notice about our history in everyday photographs. Thank you for cleaning up and sharing these unique glimpses into history but also allowing us to comment.


What I see here are four real "flappers." Nice. Thanks.

Big Ol' Love

She's a spitting image of Jeanne Tripplehorn, or vice versa.

In love with a ghost

Miss Eugenia Dunbar, wow! I think I am in love. Born in the wrong time. Does anyone else have any info on her?

[She rhymed. - Dave]

Duck on a leash

Those are some strict leash laws! I wish Toronto had a law like that. Nothing is worse than trying to walk down a street and having your ankles accosted by ducks amok.

I haven't seen a horse trough in years. The city tore out the last ones back in the early 90s near St. Lawrence Market when the condo dwellers complained about hobos bathing in them.


Sometimes it's hard to get a decent guideline as to how old a person truly is from these older photos, but this one hits just right.

My wife's grandmother, Nanny, is about to turn 100 at the end of March (yes, there will be a big party); my daughter will be turning 18 in June. It just so happens that Miss Mary and Miss Eugenia here would be the same age as Nanny, give or take a few months, having been born in 1909, as these two were. They are at the same age in this photo, roughly, as my daughter.

Those are a couple of cuties, all right, but they both might, like Nanny, have now over 80 descendants.

But as cute as they both were, I bet they had some fun times for the next two and a half years, with no lack of male attention during that era of copious money and speakeasy gin.

Ms Eugenia

No question here, Eugenia is a timeless knockout.

Where's the SPCA?

Ya daft preeverts! Everyone's looking at the girls and not the poor ducks with ropes tied around their necks!

Lor' luv a duck!

These are a pair of nice-looking birds!

Eugenia's Poetry

Eugenia won a poetry contest in the Washington Post. I can't find any other information about her. The listed home address, at 1755 P NW, was close to Dupont Circle. The curved curbstones in the photo suggest that might be where the photo was taken.

Life's Stage.

(Winner of $1 Prize.)

The dance is on, and the dancers
     Drift out in the hall
As leaves are blown by the west wind
     In autumn after they fall.

Some look o'erjoyed and carefree
     And smile and laugh as they talk
While others look overburdened and careworn
     Like a withered rose on the walk.

The music begins and the joyous
     Float into the lands of dreams.
And the sad shake their sorrowing heads and say:
     "Life is not what it seems."

Why be so withered and careworn,
     Thinking only upon your sorrow;
Why not join in life's little play
     And think not yet of tomorrow?

So let's help build this wonderful stage,
     Let's aid in this great erection,
And let each actor in life's game
     Play his part to perfection

Eugenia Dunbar (17)
1755 P street northwest.

Washington Post, Sep 26, 1926


Two beautiful women, especially Miss Dunbar. You mean there are ducks in the picture?

Fun Fact

Dipping a hat in a horse trough is a crime in Mayberry, North Carolina.

Ducks in a Row

Miss Eugenia sure is lovely, no denying, but Miss Mary looks like a better time on a 1927 Saturday night.

A Great Shot

WOW -- Then as now, a photographer will use any pretense to photograph a beautiful woman! Re the horse trough, in the late forties and early fifties there were still horses hauling goods around D.C., and these cast iron troughs were all over the downtown area.

The Trough

Putting aside the obvious va-va-voom comments for the cutie on the left, I'd like to ask about the trough. (God I must be getting old!) Did someone have to fill these daily? (I'm guessing the Fire Dept.) It looks like there's a compartment on the end, maybe for ice to melt slowly through the day? It's strange to think that may have been someone's job once.

[These were plumbed and self-filling, with what looks like a covered float valve at the far end. - Dave]

Puts Marilyn to shame

I am captivated by Miss Dunbar's feminine charms; her beauty is that of Pallas Athena and Venus together.

Absolutely Gorgeous!

The girl on the left is STUNNING! Man I'm hooked on this website!

Bathtub Ginny

Great photo. It sums up the dissipation of the 1920s just about as well as can be done.

Syndicate content is a vintage photography site featuring thousands of high-definition images. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Contact us | Privacy policy | Accessibility Statement | Site © 2023 Shorpy Inc.