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Canteen Scene: 1943

Canteen Scene: 1943

December 1943. Washington, D.C. "In the canteen for enlisted men at the United Nations Service Center on a Saturday night." Medium-format safety negative by Esther Bubley for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Scranton's Finest

Apparently Jim Halpert was in the service before he started selling office supplies for Dunder Mifflin.

Don't chew on the straw!

Kids were always told not to chew on the paper straws. Of course, if you make a suggestion like that to kids, the result is usually that they will do it, even if they might not have, otherwise. I remember it being very difficult to resist the temptation, and how worthless a well chewed straw became, for drinking. Sometimes I would tear the top end off, resulting in easier drinking.

Victory Girl?

That gal with glasses on the right has a big V on her blouse. I know it ain't her gasoline ration. Unless it stood for virgin, which just might have been true, which is why she was hanging around the USO.

[This was the United Nations Service Center, not the USO. Like a hostel, with rooms and showers. Not to mention the Enemy, who was always listening. - Dave]

6 cents? Outrageous.

The Coke machine in my dad's auto shop in the 50's and early 60's sold those little 6 ouncers for a nickel until the bottler changed the machine to 6 cents. At the time (I was 8 or 9)I thought it was a highly inflationary move, and completely uncalled for!

Meet and greet the elite!

At least three of my relatives met their future spouses at USO canteens and welcome centers. It was an honorable way for eligible people to find companionship without hanging out at a bar which "nice girls" did not do. Also, I know a lady who was conceived from a one-night relationship between her empathetic mother and a departing sailor. She never did know her father (no name, no addresse). There are so many unprecedented situations and lots of lost innocence that developed around WW2, which is probably why there were so many books written about it.

Paper straws

Ah, those were the good old days of paper straws. If you sipped slowly enough they started to dissolve and get mushy, then you needed a new one.

Straws in a coke bottle

I was in Brazil a few years ago, Rio actually, and everybody there was drinking their sodas from a straw, can or glass and drank their beers with a glass. I asked somebody why that was, while I was sucking down a beer bottle, and they told me because of the rats and roaches that crawl along the bottle and cans while they sit in the back storage room. I have been drinking with a straw ever since.

Golden advert

The two sipping Coke at the left would make a fantastic advertisement. Those bottles really are classic -- such a gorgeous, evocative shape.

That Saucy Number...

...midframe has two fellas at her table, but seems to be more interested in living on the edge (at least for the next few hours) with our suds-sipping stud stage right.

On the Left

No sody pop for him. A bottle of Schlitz? He's taking the "drink 'til they look good" philosophy.

Authentic period details

Straws in a Coke bottle.

Wall flowers?

Everyone appears to be having a great time, except the guys seated at the table in the upper left. At least one (judging from the look on his face) appears to be jealous of the attention the others are getting from the girls.

Love the way they drank from their Coke bottles with straws. Great shot!

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