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Eastern High: 1910

Washington, D.C., circa 1910. "Eastern High School." Points of interest in this unusually detailed portrait include caps and insignia of the High School Cadet Corps, Company F, and a cat. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1910. "Eastern High School." Points of interest in this unusually detailed portrait include caps and insignia of the High School Cadet Corps, Company F, and a cat. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.


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Special Pleating

Those a hip-stitched pleats. Sewn down along the hips and then they become normal pleats. Those were still around in the 60s.


Oh, the pleats on Catwoman's skirt! If I'd been her I would have lobbied for just that position in the group photo, to show them off.

Just Under the Surface

Perhaps a dedicated newspaper detective could tell us whether this was the Company F at Eastern High in 1905 that, after winning a drill competition, mutinied against the principal, who would not let them celebrate the next day. From a quick scan of the Post I gather that, against explicit orders, the cadets and their girlfriends left the campus (marched?) and went around to some of their former grade schools in a kind of rowdy triumph. When they returned, they made an effigy of their principal (out of a cabbage and a sack) and wrote a "round-robin" to demand his removal.

Even if this group is a "later generation" of Company F, 1905 was part of their lore.

Pinkie Ring

The ring that the young man, top row, third from the right not including "Blurry Boy," is wearing is most likely a signet ring, simple and gold with his engraved initial.

Sass and Brass

The young lass wearing the boy's cap and holding her chin in her hand ... wow! She looks like she would be a great gal to buy a drink or three.

That Thing

What is the thing near the middle of the doors? Obviously not a damper, because the door already has a hydraulic damper. Looks sort of solenoidish ... an electrically controlled lock? A trigger for a burglar alarm?

Egg Iron, Tailor's Ham 'n' Sleeve Roll

Fashions loaded with intricate trims and curved seams needed a whole smorgy of special devices for pressing, and some are still available from specialty sewing shops. Here's a 1912 engraving of an egg iron, and another image of a tailor's ham and a sleeve roll, both still very useful for taming curved seams on uncreased things like men's suit coats. As for the goffering iron, used to press ruffs and millstone collars, I have the illustration but the device maybe looks too, er-ah, scary for the genteel crowd here.

Egg Irons

Not only did these ladies have to iron every inch of these dresses using irons heated over a fire, they probably also used egg irons for the puffy sleeves. These were egg-shaped pieces of iron of varying sizes attached to long handles and used to iron curved items which would have been inaccessible using a flat iron. I know, since I used two of them to keep my young daughter's puffy sleeves nicely unwrinkled. I would love to have kept them as an antique curiosity but had to return to the friend who loaned them to me. Bless her heart.

Sheet Music Top 10

Most likely they would be playing them on the piano, or put a roll in the player piano. Someone would accompany on a guitar, or a banjo, and the rest would stand around and sing. At least this is how it was in my mother's family. Oh yes, they had the Victrola too, but home entertainment was do-it-yourself for most folks. Children took piano lessons, and later were expected to play for family gatherings.

Some hit songs of the day.

These kids would have been listening to these hit songs of the day.

"Any Little Girl, That's a Nice Little Girl, Is the Right Little Girl for Me"
"Chicken Reel"
"Chinatown, My Chinatown"
"Come Josephine in My Flying Machine
"Down by the Old Mill Stream"
"Every Little Movement (Has a Meaning All Its Own)"
"I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am"
"Let Me Call You Sweetheart"
"Silver Star (1910 song)"
"Some of These Days"
"Washington and Lee Swing"


Meant to say the girl who is third from left, not right.

[Shorpy Tip #3425: Registered users can edit their own comments at any time. Just click the "edit" link at the bottom of the comment box. - Dave]

Miss Blurry

You are right Dave. Blurry gal has the same medallion in both photos. Theta Pi gal 3rd from left is the hands on the hip girl in the front row above.

How many girls here also in Theta Pi photo?

This is fun. At first I was trying to see if anybody wore the same blouse, but I think the Theta Pi sorority photo has the girls wearing dressier tops.

Here are my matches:

Girl with Cat is Girl with Cup in Theta photo (TP)

Girl 3rd from left front row is front left in TP. Same necklace and take no guff expression.

Girl 4th from left in front row is 2nd from right in middle row of TP. Same mouth and chesticular regions.

Girl in 2nd row above with bow is just as beautiful in TP center left. (I noted my desire in the TP comments)

A couple of other maybes.

I am assuming that the girl above on the left almost mixed into the boys was not invited to join Theta Pi.

Thanks Dave for these great photos.

[Blurry gal, far right in the second row from the bottom, is also a Theta Pi (far right, seated). - Dave]

Statistically Significant

There's a 2:1 Girl/Boy ratio here. Just sayin'.


Did they all have the overly warm three-day old tuna fish for lunch, or what? Almost all seem a bit, uh, bad-tempered at the moment and ready to return to the cafeteria for a refund.

The ironing! The ironing!

One of the pleasures of a picture this clear is the tactile sense you get of the clothing. All those girls in crisp white blouses, that had been hung out to dry on the line. But then--the ironing it took to get them to look so neat! With a sad iron heated on the stove, no less. Second girl from the left, front row, I'm looking at you. Highly skilled labor is clearly involved.

"High School Cadets"

John Philip Sousa wrote "The High School Cadets" march in 1890, when he was head of the Marine Band in Washington. Sousa is buried in Congressional Cemetery, which is just a few blocks from the still-existing Eastern High School.


The military-style caps say "HSC" with "F" below. The girls' ribbons say "EHS" (or possibly "EIS") with F below. OK, "High School Cadets" and "Eastern High School"--but what does the "F" signify? I mean in 1910, not 2009.

[As noted in the caption, Company F of the Cadet Corps. - Dave]

Guys in Ties

Love this photo! The girl with the black bow is lovely, the girl front and center has a rather unfortunate expression, and I'd love to get to know the three boys in ties in the back left.

Discarded Headgear

Note the two hats on the ground. Somehow, I cannot picture that fedora on any of the boys, but can easily imagine that oddly shaped thing with the feather situated on any of those girls.

Fast, or not so fast?

Some of the girls are wearing the boys' cadet caps. Does that mean they're fast girls, you know, the kind that would hold hands on the first date?

Who goes there?

Who are the live wires? Thirty or forty years down the road, who will be good for a beer, a meal, a chat?

That cat

Not just "a" cat but "my" cat.

Where the hell did he get a Time Machine ?

GREAT picture BTW.

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