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Star Pressing Club: 1936

February 1936. Vicksburg, Mississippi. "Negro shop fronts. Laundry and barber shop." Large-format nitrate negative by Walker Evans. View full size.

February 1936. Vicksburg, Mississippi. "Negro shop fronts. Laundry and barber shop." Large-format nitrate negative by Walker Evans. View full size.


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120 Volt Electric service

Having been in the electrical distribution business for the past 40 years it is interesting (to me, anyway) to see the old style 120 volt meter service on both sides of this building. Each serving the business on either side. There were still, believe it or not, two wire 120 volt, 30 amp services still in existence up until just a few years ago!

Wrong Place

Someone's chalked "Wrong Place" to the left of the barbershop window.

L. Palmer

This is Joe Manning. In the 1930 census, there was one African-American person named Palmer listed in Vicksburg whose first name begins with L. He was Luther Palmer, born in 1890, his occupation given as a tailor running a tailor shop. I had a strong feeling he was the L. Palmer on the sign. Then I found a Luther Palmer, born in 1899, who died in Mississippi in 1963, and then found his son, a retired professor at Texas A&M University. I called him, and after a very interesting conversation which seemed to establish a good possibility that his father was the man who owned the 1936 business, I realized I had forgotten to mention that it was a "Negro" business. At that point, Professor Palmer told me he was white. Case closed? Probably, but is there a small chance that the business was owned by his white father, but run by African-Americans? He didn't think so. After 1930, there are no records for any other Luther Palmers who appear to be the one I found in the 1930 Census.

2D Barber Pole

I love the way the barber pole has been painted in the space between the doors.

Thought Balloon

The siding looks typical of the cartoons of the 1930's. Popeye for example. Also very Robert Crumby. Especially where the siding joins in the upper left. The horizontal splits in the siding at the joins and the nailheads are also typical of the comics of the period.

Pressing Club

It's the name of a dry cleaner, some still operating in the South.

Pressed Hair

I'm going to guess that the "Star Pressing Club" is for the purpose of pressing hair.

[It's a laundry. See the clothes? - Dave]

Meter Readers

Did the electrical meter readers work on stilts?

Zipper effect

The siding on the building shows the "zipper effect", where the joints in the boards follow a repeated pattern, usually due to the length of the boards as they were made at the mill, versus the width of the building. It's an effect you're supposed to work to avoid, by cutting boards at different lengths, to avoid creating a pattern.

A little off the top

Dave, can we see a close-up of the hairstyle chart above the barbershop door?


The person who read the electric meters in Vicksburg must have been extraordinarily tall.

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