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Glee: 1896

1896. "Bachelors' Glee Club, U.S.S. Maine." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative by Edward H. Hart for the Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

1896. "Bachelors' Glee Club, U.S.S. Maine." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative by Edward H. Hart for the Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Beaver Cleaver

is lying on the deck next to Thom Yorke of Radiohead.

Waiting For The Smoking Lamp To Be Lit ...

... might be a good alternative title.

Sea dogs who sailed the wooden ships endured hardships that sailors today never suffer. Cramped quarters, poor unpalatable food, bad lighting and boredom were hard facts of sea life. But perhaps a more frustrating problem was getting fire to kindle a cigar or pipe tobacco after a hard day's work.

Matches were scarce and unreliable, yet smoking contributed positively to the morale of the crew so oil lamps were hung in the fo'c'sle and used as matches. Smoking was restricted to certain times of the day and by the bos'un's. When it was allowed, the "smoking lamps" were "lighted" and the men relaxed with their tobacco.

Fire was, and still is the great enemy of ships at sea. The smoking lamp was centrally located for the convenience of all and was the only authorized light aboard. It was a practical way of keeping open flames away from the magazines and other storage areas.

In today's Navy the smoking lamps have disappeared but the words "smoking lamp is lighted in all authorized spaces" remains, a carryover from our past.

Origin of Navy Terminology

Smoking habits

Their smoking habits may indeed have contributed to the disaster. One of the most common explanations for the blast was spontaneous combustion of coal dust in the boiler room. However, the US Naval Historical Center web site says "Despite the best efforts of experts and historians in investigating this complex and technical subject, a definitive explanation for the destruction of Maine remains elusive." [Link]

What's the Medal?

Back row, sixth from left, holding the drum.... What's the medal he's wearing?

The full range

Cigarettes, a cigar, AND pipes: all that's missing is a hookah for the full range of tobacco-smoking options, eh?

There don't seem to be regulations on trouser buttoning.


I thought it said Gleet Club!

What happened to these fellows?

If these fellows were on the ship the night of the sinking they most probably died. The crew quarters were in the forward section of the ship which was destroyed in the explosion. The officers' quarters in the stern survived.

The Maine Mystery

Could the destruction of the USS Maine be in any way connected with the smoking habits of her crew?

Not such a gleeful bunch

But I'd probably look glum too if I had to sing to banjo and drum accompaniment.

All men on deck

Pipes and pie plate hats at the ready.

Kerchief and cord

I'm interested in the skinny white cord overlapping the kerchief. Was it decorative, or functional? And I always thought people's faces from earlier eras were truly odd and different. I've changed my tune on that. Ignoring costumes, and probably poor dental work, I could easily imagine seeing these faces on the street today.

On Second Thought

Never mind.

A bit of a redundancy?

"Bachelors' Glee Club"

Remember the Maine

I wonder what happened to these fellows when the Maine exploded two years later in Havana Harbor.

A happy crew ...

... not that there's anything wrong with that.

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