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© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Yesterday's News: 1940

Yesterday's News: 1940

December 1940. Brockton, Massachusetts. "Men and a woman reading headlines posted in window of Brockton Enterprise newspaper office on Christmas Eve." 35mm Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano. View full size.

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Grandfather Uto's barbershop

This was not a Japanese barbershop. My grandfather Anthony Uto came to this country from Italy in 1899 and opened his shop under the Enterprise building in the early 1900s. Until his retirement in the late 1960s, that was his shop.

Flying Santa

The "flying Santa Claus" referred to was Edward Rowe Snow, a local historian who every year, with the help of the Coast Guard, delivered Christmas packages to lighthouse keepers and their families. You can find more about him here.

The Enterprise

The Enterprise is no longer at 60 Main Street in downtown Brockton. Delano's photo shows where the old Enterprise offices were, where the city of Brockton water/sewer offices currently reside, I believe. 60 Main is to the right, on the other corner. The building has been sold to a developer and the presses were dismantled and removed in 2008. In October 2008, part of the newsroom operation moved to a nondescript office on the city limits.

I know who caused the earthquake!

My dad, who would have been 14 at the time of this picture, grew up in Manchester, NH, and told me this story several times:

One day he and his younger brother were in their upstairs bedroom doing nothing in particular while their mother was in the kitchen. Suddenly the dishes rattled and the cupboard doors shook. Mom marched to the foot of the stairs and shouted, "YOU BOYS CUT THAT OUT!"

They looked at each other, then replied, "We weren't doing anything." (They were fond of fighting and wrestling, so Mom had every reason to blame them.)

"You rattled the dishes down here!"

"It wasn't us, honest. It must have been an earthquake," they countered.

Well, that was ridiculous because earthquakes just don't happen in New England. However, when the next day's paper reported an earthquake, they all had a good laugh, and Mom was reassured that her boys weren't lying.

Oops, ya got me!

Anonymous Tipster is so right. Those dangling modifiers are pernicious. What is missing are the words "I find" from my original draft, inserted just after "editor," and just before "this." Good catch!

Re: As a newspaper editor

Re: As a newspaper editor, this photo is

That's saying this photo is a newspaper editor. I thought it was reporters who fell into the trap of the dangling modifier, and the editors were the ones who pulled them out!

Read all about it

As a newspaper editor, this photo is evocative of a time when people truly treasured their daily or weekly newspaper, read it religiously, wrote letters to the editor, subscribed for generations, and hungered for important news as it was packaged in those days--on paper. Sure, they listened to H.P. Kaltenborn, but they still read all about it. Just a year later, when I was a month old, the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor, leaving our generation to question why anyone in 1940 used a rising sun motif for their outdoor advertising! Nowadays, our industry is on the ropes, but I'm glad to see that the Brockton Enterprise is still going strong, right where it started. For how long, though? Reading is becoming a lost art, alas.

Evergreen street tree?

Is that a Doug Fur or Canadian Hemlock in the corner of the picture? It looks like there is an ornament on it, which would make sense, but it seems like an odd place for a Xmas tree that size in the middle of the sidewalk.

News Flash

Today this would be replaced with the news "zipper" like in Times Square, New York.

Marciano and Hagler

Brockton is indeed home to boxing great Rocky Marciano. It is also home to another boxing great, Marvelous Marvin Hagler!

Eaton Cutters

Something about Eaton sounded familiar. The Eaton Cutters post for the army shoe workers is a reference to the Charles A. Eaton Shoe Company founded 1876 in Brockton, eventually adding their golf shoes to its line. In 1976, the company changed its name to Etonic.

Window vs. Web Logs

Brockton, Mass. Who knew it was the birthplace of blogging? This is also a very early use of Windows Media.

The Brockton Bomber

Wasn't Rocky Marciano from Brockton?

Men Without Hats

The style changed, I believe, with John F. Kennedy, who was the first U.S. President to regularly go hatless. This encouraged a lot of other young men of his generation to follow suit (but not hat).

Then there was the disastrous collapse of the once-mighty Japanese-American barbershop industry, which has yet to be fully documented. Not by me, though. Still, the familiar Kabuki barber in his garish makeup and flowing silk costume used to be a fixture in American cities from coast to coast, like Howard Johnson's restaurants and motels.

For some reason or other, they never made a comeback after 1945. Maybe it was because, as my WWII veteran Grandpa used to say, "I'll never, ever trust one of those little guys with a razor again!"

Since the average customer wasn't getting shaved bald any more (except for the traditional Samauri topknot, on request), the hat was no longer needed.

[Disclaimer: If you don't think that real history is entertaining enough, you can always make up your own].


Gosh, I really like the look of a man with a nice hat on. I remember that growing up in the 50's and 60's, practically all men wore them. I don't know why they stopped, but they sure look elegant.


Your best bet finding them are in Hasidic neighborhood stores.


I like that even back then they were "tracking" Santa and that he might not finish up his route until Christmas morning!

Get Your News Here

Unlike today, there were no text messages, no blogs, no CNN, only newspapers and radios. There were no all news stations but there were morning and afternoon papers. Things changed much later on and I believe we are all the better for it.

Hatzoff, Fedora Man

As I grow older (and balder), I find myself coveting those fedoras. Gonna go find me one, somewhere...

Keeping an eye

Was everybody a private detective in those days?


The USGS website confirms the headlines in the window. A magnitude 5.5 earthquake struck the Lake Ossippee region in New Hampshire on December 20th and 24th of 1940. It reports that aftershocks were felt throughout the northeast.


There was an earthquake? Indeed, two? In Massachusetts?

Many years back I read that there is a fault line running under Manhattan. I suppose this may be connected.

The past is prologue

Interesting how the formatting of newspaper pages on the window presages the formatting of information on the screen of my iPod Touch.

School Board,

not schoolbooks.

Enterprise Barber Shop?

Is that what is says? Although, when I saw the "Empire of the Sun" sign, my first thought was "Japanese" as well.

Staying connected to your world.

Wow! I wish we had a place to go today to read news headlines.

R.I.P. Billy Hill

Billy Hill, Boston native, wrote a number of popular songs including The Last Round-Up, Wagon Wheels, Empty Saddles, In the Chapel in the Moonlight, The Glory of Love. At the age of seventeen he went out West and spent the next fifteen years working at various jobs including dishwasher in several roadhouses, cowpuncher in Montana, payroll clerk at a mining camp in Death Valley, and band leader at a Chinese restaurant in Salt Lake City. Sadly, Billy "lost his battle with alcohol" on Dec. 24, 1940. You can learn more at

It Comes Full Circle

I was wetting my pants in 1940 and here we are back in the same mode, its deja vu all over again.

Anthony Uto

I think the sign reads "Enterprise Barber Shop." I have no doubt tho that the sign was changed to something that did not resemble the imperial battle flag!

Twitter 1.0

Just a few short words on a subject, broadcast for all the world (if the world happens to walk by that window) to read.

Brockton Enterprise

The Enterprise of Brockton is still there:

And it still resides at 60 Main Street in Brockton.

And W.B. Mason (2nd Floor) is still going strong as well.

Still Around

Unlike the Seattle Post-Intelligencer or the Rocky Mountain News, the Brockton Enterprise will still deliver a physical newspaper to your home. I find that comforting.

You two, yeah you, get out of the way

I really want to know more about problems with the schoolbooks, but those two guys are in the way.

Japanese Barber Shop

This picture was taken in December 1940. I'd be willing to bet that one year later "Anthony Uto's Japanese Barber Shop" was no longer in business.

["Japanese"? I think you're misreading the sign. - Dave]

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