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Our Man in Havana: 1938

Our Man in Havana: 1938

November 11, 1938. "No doubt armies were discussed when this picture was made today. Maj. General Malin Craig, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, and Col. Fulgencio Batista, Cuba's Dictator, as they chatted informally at Arlington while waiting for the arrival of President Roosevelt for the Armistice Day ceremonies there." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Viva Che,

¡Viva la Revolucion!


Generals in the 1930s were free to design their own uniforms. You'll notice the almost comical Patton look, MacArthur's crushed hat, and the Ike jacket were very individual. Generals would have tailors make their uniforms and a wide variety of looks resulted. Not sure when the practice ended but such individuality goes back to the birth of uniforms in the British Army.

Daffy Duck

It's funny that the first commenter mentioned Looney Tunes, as my first reaction upon seeing Batista was to think of Daffy Duck.

General Officer Uniforms

At that time (and maybe still) general officers could design their own uniforms; hence, Patton's get up and Ike's custom made waist-length jacket, which was eventually adopted by the Army as standard. Craig apparently had a "shoe thing."

No Army issue for officers

is correct, but there were (in my day, the 1960s) uniform requirements. Officers got a uniform allowance ($200 when I went on active duty in 1963) and bought their own uniform and kit, which had to to conform with the uniform standards. Service dress shoes were plain toe, black. Socks were plain black also.

Not as sharp as General Craig, but uniform!

Re: What's with the shoes

>> Were those wing tips standard Army issue, even for major generals, in those days?

There is no "standard Army issue" for officers. They have to buy their own clothes and shoes.

Shoes and socks

Whoa! Check out Gen. Craig's shoes and socks! Don't know exactly what that style would be called. It's neither a wingtip nor a cap toe, but some sort of combination. And patterned socks, too. Take note military historians and reenactors!

Three comments

Are those wingtips and socks on General Craig regulation? Why do they call them "uniforms" anyhow?

Did anyone think to offer the dictator an ash tray? Looks like he considered using his glove but settled on the floor.

The body language and personal space issues in this photo could keep a Psychology 101 class busy for a couple of weeks.

What, No Cuban Cigar?

Check out that insane cigarette holder attached to his thumb!

What's with the shoes

Were those wing tips standard army issue, even for major generals, in those days?


Note the spurs on General Batista's boots.......absolutely essential for riding in a limousine.

Plus, couldn't he have found an ashtray instead of flicking his cigarette ashes on the floor?

Military Issue

Military issue footwear must be different for generals than the rank and file. Or this could be the forerunner for Hawkeye and the M*A*S*H 4077th. Perforated wingtips and designer sox?

Oversize Me

Batista must have watched Disney and other animated comics on TV daily!

Banana Republic

Batista and his giant cap and pudgy piggy fingers and jackbooted trotters are right out of a Looney Tunes short! Where's Bugs Bunny when you need him?

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