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Fast Food: 1943

Fast Food: 1943

March 1943. "Pearlington, Mississippi (vicinity). Truck driver eating at a trucker's stop along U.S. Highway 90." Hey buddy, pass the salt? Medium-format nitrate negative by John Vachon for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Is this copyright free?

I poked around a bit and it appears this wonderful image is part of the Library of Congress. I am a colored pencil portrait artist and would love to do a rending of this in sepia. I would love your permission to do so if it is yours to give. Thank you for this wonderful site.

[See the section "Rights Advisory" in the LOC listing for this photo here. - tterrace]

I'll see your pair

I have two sets of these salt & pepper shakers, inherited from my parents. We had several other sets of shakers available, but my father and mother would never use any others, if at all possible. Apparently, these style shakers were the only ones to put out the quantity of salt (per shake) that satisfied my parent's sodium chloride addiction.

I'll check with my mother to see where she may have gotten these. I think they may have come from the local grocery store, as part of a promotion where you could get free kitchen items if you purchased a specific dollar amount of grocery items.

By the way, my mother will be 83 years old this Friday (1/28/11) and still has the "addiction". If you don't hear the salt crunching while you eat, there isn't enough on the food.

John Steinbeck

Along 66 the hamburger stands--Al & Susy’s Place--Carl’s Lunch--Joe & Minnie--Will’s Eats. Board-and-bat shacks. Two gasoline pumps in front, a screen door, a long bar, stools, and a foot rail. Near the door three slot machines, showing through glass the wealth in nickels three bars will bring. And beside them, the nickel phonograph with records piled up like pies, ready to swing out to the turntable and play dance music, “Ti-pi-ti-pi-tin,” “Thanks for the Memory,” Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman. At one end of the counter a covered case; candy cough drops, caffeine sulphate called Sleepless, No-Doze; candy, cigarettes, razor blades, aspirin, Bromo-Seltzer, Alka-Seltzer. The walls decorated with posters, bathing girls, blondes with big breasts and slender hips and waxen faces, in white bathing suits, and holding a bottle of Coca-Cola and smiling—see what you get with a Coca-Cola. Long bar, and salts, peppers, mustard pots, and paper napkins. Beer taps behind the counter, and in back the coffee urns, shiny and steaming with glass gauges showing the coffee level. And pies in wire cages and oranges in pyramids of four. And little piles of Post Toasties, corn flakes, stacked up in designs.

The signs on cards, picked out with shining mica: Pies Like Mother Used to Make. Credit Makes Enemies, Let’s Be Friends. Ladies May Smoke But Be Careful Where You Lay Your Butts. Eat Here and Keep Your Wife for a Pet. IITYWYBAD?

Diner Classic

Sometimes I poke around a local restaurant supply store. All the dishes & cups with the two green bands around the top, the sugar pourer and the salt shaker are still available for sale. Sometimes you can't help despairing when you go in a place and find they're using that china -- the coffee is usually terrible, but still, there's something nice realizing that the same style has been around for 65 years or more.

Decorous Decoration

Even though this restaurant isn't much more than a shanty, the "Ladies' Lounge" is carefully screened off.

Contrast this with a chain restaurant I was in the other day - when the door opened, my table got a full view of every urinal on the wall - occupied and unoccupied.

America, how did you get to be so crass?

Pretty amazing resolution

Individual grains of salt on the counter are just as visible as if it were real life.

Chauffeur's Badge

Note the chauffeur's badge on the side of his hat. Very collectible today. They were issued every year to those who drove commercial vehicles for a living. Some years are more valuable & scarce than others.

That Hat

As a truck driver, I think I've been cheated. Where can I get a snappy hat like that? And I've got to have the badges with it.

Whats with his hat?

I notice an emblem with #14 on the front, and then a badge (or two) on the side of that well worn cap. Anyone have any insight as to the nature of the bonnet-bling this feller's sportin? Almost looks like a motorcycle cop hat.

The salt shaker

That particular salt shaker has been used by eating establishments for eons. most likely because its a utilitarian design that has no aesthetic value. in other words, its like the bad paintings on the motel walls. no one will steal them and they are readily available at the local dollar store.

["No aestehtic value"? Hmph. I have a pair in my very own kitchen. They've been following me around probably since my college days. - Dave]

Classy Joint

The shutters screening the entrance to the "Ladies Lounge" are a nice touch.

Anchor Hocking

My dad had that kind of salt shaker (Anchor Hocking) in his drive-in restaurant. And that same sugar pourer.

What's in...

the bottle at his left elbow. It looks like some sort of ketchup or maybe hot sauce?

[Ketchup or mustard would be my guess. - Dave]

A classic

What is it about that style of salt (and pepper) shaker? You still see it in many of the restaurants. We have a set we use once in a while when I grill outside. We had them on our table when I was a boy in the 50's. You had to put a few grains of rice in the salt shaker to keep it from plugging up.

Speaking of salt...

The first thing I noticed was the timeless salt shaker. How long has that design been around? (Would anyone care to take on that research assignment?) I grew up with that salt shaker. I have one now.

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