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Get the Party Started: 1941

Get the Party Started: 1941

January 1941. Sarasota, Florida. "Guests of Sarasota trailer park picnicking at the beach." Medium format negative by Marion Post Wolcott. View full size.


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Snow Birds

I am from around Sarasota, Florida, and I love that it is January and they seem to be from Ohio. If you were to be in Sarasota in January there would still be a lot of people from Ohio!
I also love how they're just relaxing on the beach. It's so interesting to me how the same beach I have played and laid out on my whole life has been "bathed" on for so many years.

I'm nearby when this picture was taken

Back in 1941, I was 5 years old and living in Sarasota. The next year, because of the war and transportation was for servicemen mainly, few tourists came to town. My father lost his therapy business downtown and we all moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to find work. My life changed forever in 1941, as it did for every American citizen on Dec. 7. Sarasota was a lovely little town back then; now it is beautiful, but without me, I'm sorry to say.

Driving South

In February of 1956, I answered a classified ad in the NY Times offering cars to drive to Florida. A friend and myself were given a new Ford convertible and a full tank of gas. All other expenses were on us. We were allowed 3 days to get there. Using routes 1 and A1A, we drove the car there in 28 hours (including being stopped for speeding and waiting for a magistrate to come in and fine us $15) and then had the car for us to use for a couple of days. The car's owner lived on an island in the Miami area and after we gave her a sob story she tipped us $25.

Carey is right.

Travel back then was more of an adventure than today.
Our first road trip from New Jersey to Florida was in 1955 when I was 7 years old. Route 95 was only finished in sections so most of the way we were turning off and traveling on Route 301 through tobacco fields, cotton fields, stopping at small town diners and roadside attractions. We still talk about what great fun we had and how it was an adventure for all of us.

[If by "Route 95" you mean I-95, the Interstate Highway System wasn't even begun until 1956. Perhaps you mean U.S. 1. - Dave]

Sotto Blotto

How do you know they aren't stinking drunk and just holding still until the photographer is gone to get back to the party?

"Quick, Ethel, put on your sober face -- they got the camera out again!"

Times change

I'll bet if you asked these folks how they enjoyed their day at the beach they'd say it was terrific. All depends on what you're used to. BTW, pantyhose were not invented for another generation. These ladies had old fashioned stockings held up by garters, that were probably attached to their girdles. The guy probably had old fashioned (pre Spandex) socks, held up by garters, too.

"What's that over there?"

"Over where?"
"Out there, in the water."
"Well, why didn't you say in the water to begin with?"
"I gestured."
"I didn't see it."
"I gestured with my eyes."
"You can't gesture with your eyes."
"You weren't paying attention."
"It looks like a sailboat."
"How pretty. Like Father's old boat."
"Shouldn't we be getting back? I have sand in my shoes."

Traffic Light Hell

Alexander raises an interesting point. While it's true that road travel before the interstate system was much slower, it's also true that it was much more fun and interesting. The interstate system homogenized cuisine and culture; it eradicated local diners and bypassed points of interest and replaced them with national fast-food chains and sheer boredom. In the pre-interstate era, a road trip from Ohio to Florida would have been a trip through dozens of local cultures, small towns, interesting sights, and a lot of darn good food. Now it's just mind-numbing hours of exit numbers, all featuring exactly the same bad choices of things to eat and absolutely nothing to see or do. As much good as the interstate system has done, it has also killed much of small-town America and local flavor and culture.

Another American Gothic

I find this photo particularly soothing. The auto looks polished and the people appear to be all dressed up.

I remember my grandmothers' Sunday print dresses and those sensible shoes. We used to call them "nun shoes." And I love their hats, too.

Maybe this is their last day in Florida and they're paying one last visit to the shore. They've had lunch and they're in that moment before someone says, "Well, that's it. Let's get everything packed and start back for Ohio."

Seeing Red

I shudder to think of the number of traffic lights one would encounter driving from Ohio to Florida before the interstate highway system.

You're 60+ years old

You've probably worked all your life. You drive from Ohio to Florida. You sit outside and have a little meal and look at the sand and the water. You aren't gloomy; you aren't a stick-in-the-mud; you are tired.

I never liked the beach

All that sand gets in your sandwiches and between the teeth.

Where's a tsunami when you need one?

Oh my, this photo is downright sad: Sarasota when it was pure, pristine, undeveloped -- one of the most magnificent beaches in the world, as hinted at by this photo. Yet this bunch of champion curmudgeons is "enjoying" it by driving their car onto it and apparently having a decidedly bad day.

These Sensible Shoes Are Made for Stompin'

Hupmobile? These ladies drive the Hurtmobile.

Been There

What a hoot! People dream of fun vacations and picnics by the sea. This is usually what they get.

Mystery Solved

I've often wondered what those running boards were used for.

Go ahead and make fun of them..

These are the people upon whose shoulders we stand.

Miserable much?

Hey, they're from Ohio, where gloominess is an avocation. I think it's all the snow and other winter weather that does it.

This is a

1938 Buick Straight Eight. A very
serious automobile.

Possible reasons for looking so sad

1. About to scatter Aunt Tillie's ashes into the Gulf.
2. Looks to be about 35 degrees there -- that's not sand, it's snow!
3. Women depressed at being rejected for off-camera bikini contest.

Party like it's 1949

The wife, the mother-in-law, and the twice divorced or spinster sister-in-law. Rock on.

Fun in Florida!

Because nothing says "Fun in the sun!" like pantyhose, sensible shoes and a black wool coat. I feel relaxed just looking at this photo.

BUICK, 1938

Hija, de pié; padre, madre y abuela...
Todos muy serios. ¿Quién hizo la foto?

A good time was had by all.

This poor guy is on a vacation with three women and nothing he says is going to be correct (if he even gets a word in edgewise). He might as well just shut up and drive. Ain't we got fun? They look like the Carol Burnett crew from "Mama's Family."

Cloudy dispositions

What funereal looking people, given that they're on a beach! Could they look more miserable?

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