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We Were Young Once: 1910

Washington, D.C., ca. 1910. "Eaton School." H&E glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., ca. 1910. "Eaton School." H&E glass negative. View full size.


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Right over left, left over right...

The girls' boots must have 16 or 18 pairs of eyelets. My knee-high motorcycle boots have 20 pairs, and invariably I end up with one end of the laces longer than the other, or they're too tight in one spot and too loose in another. It can take a good five minutes to lace them up. If I had to wear boots like that every day I'd never get to work on time.

The Norfolk jacket

I believe that's the style that the boys are wearing. 'Tis a dashing look. The chap second from the left is wearing a very fine example. Gene Kelly sported a Norfolk jacket whilst splashing through rain puddles in Singin' in the Rain. Sadly, we don't see them much these days.

Look -- no fat kids!

I was impressed by how physically fit they seem, so I did a little number digging. In 1910, the childhood obesity rate for children of this age in the US was about 5 percent. Today the rate is nearly 20 percent, so in a group photo of 11 kids, you would expect maybe two of them would be fat.

My heart beat a skip

The third boy from the left, who is obviously going through a growth spurt, and handsome to boot. Sigh.

Don Martin

Don Martin drew feet that are eerily like my husband's archless 15EEEEs.

Who has the conch?

There's something in the eyes that makes me think of Lord of the Flies.

Ya got trouble!

Mothers of River City,
heed the warning before it's too late,
watch for the telltale signs of corruption!
The moment your son leaves the house,
does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee?

(Thanks, Meredith Willson)


What a happy, handsome group of kids. All their hair styles would be quite in vogue today except for the young fellow on the left who must have had one of those, "put a bowl on your head and shave around it," haircut. I have some pictures of me about 6 years old with that same cut. My grandfather would cut my hair to save my dad two bits.

Style or Uniform

The boys all have similar though not identical suits while the girls have only their shoes in common. Wonder why.

I often wondered.....

where Don Martin, of Mad magazine fame, got his inspiration for the shoes he would always draw on his characters. The ones those two girls are wearing answered that question.

All kids are remarkable!

"Remarkable Faces," is that a sarcastic comment? As someone who works with kids, I have to disagree, I do see kids with mature, handsome faces all the time! The child in the back row on our right side of the photo is definitely not my idea of mature. This is a theme I seem to spot regularly in Shorpy comments. Certainly, as media imagery of human faces is now ubiquitous and we're taught to pose for cameras at younger ages, the way people are captured in photos has changed, but that's not necessarily evidence of the ways that people have changed. There were all sorts of kids with all kinds of different motives then, just as there are now.

Lapel pins

Three of the boys appear to have the same lapel pins. I've seen similarly shaped ones on adults in pictures from this time period. The star-shaped one is easier to research. Anyone have any ideas about what they would have been?

Little Sneaks

The boy on the far left looks like he's wearing some kind of early Converse shoes.

Eaton Elementary

John Eaton Elementary located in historic Cleveland Park in Northwest Washington, D.C. opened in 1911 serving students from the surrounding neighborhood. Currently, about 419 students attend the school in grades Pre-K through 6th. Fifth grade will be the highest level of instruction starting in the 2009-10 school year.

Detachable Collar - One Size Fits All

I bet that kid in the back row wishes he had a soft collar like the rest of the lads do.

Remarkable Faces

This looks like a collection of child models--mature, handsome faces, very poised. Don't see kids like this any more.

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