What's In a Photograph? (1/11)

Posted on 01/11/2012 by Fritz Byers in What's In a Photograph?

Welcome back to our new weekly blog series called “What’s In a Photograph?”

If you missed last week’s series introduction, you can read it here.

Orchestra during intermission at square dance; notice sweated shirt of host, McIntosh County, Oklahoma, ca. 1940. Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

If you’ve ever been to a country square dance, you know that all you need to get folks dancing is a guitar and a fiddle, so it’s not a misnomer to label this pair an “┬Ç┬ťorchestra”. If they know how to play – my money is betting they do, judging from the guitarist’s hat, and the way the fiddler is holding his bow – these two could swing the room into a frenzy. If you doubt the point, then, as the caption suggests, check out the sweat-soaked shirt of the guy to the right. He’s been feeling it! Maybe, as the caption says, he’s the host. Or he might be a dancer who’s jotting down the phone number of someone sweet he just danced with. Can’t you just hear the caller: “Swing your partner, do-si-do, promenade and let her go.”

Couples at square dance, McIntosh County, Oklahoma, ca. 1940. Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

What do you see in these photographs?

Visitor Comments

It must have been a hot night in Oklahoma; and stuck in a seemingly windowless room full of people dancing. Everyone is glistening with sweat in the below picture. No one seems particularly thrilled to be there, maybe by this point everyone is just hot and tired (the musicians in the top picture look a bit worn out as well).

I can't figure out what's hanging off the end of the violin, strange.

These pictures were taken about a year before Pearl Harbor; I wonder what happened to all these young men over the next few years.

It looks like someone pinned a bunch of kraft paper to the walls. Why would they do that?

I also wonder if the women in the bottom photograph were trying to avoid having their picture taken. Although, it seems like the man closest to the photographer didn't mind!

I wonder if the paper on the walls was used to help keep the dust or dirt out during the "dirty" 30's and just had not been taken down yet? Picture was taken in 1940 in Oklahoma....or could it be a new house warming party and they did not have the money to finish the walls.....
The guy in the white shirt in the 2nd picture doesn't seem to be to "interested" in his dance partner or his is listening to the guy behind the guy closest to the photographer. The guy in the white shirt also looks a lot like the guy looking into the camera.

In square dancing, there's a lot of mixing up of couples during a dance ... perhaps the guy in the white shirt is making sure that other guy wasn't getting too friendly with HIS girl, or vice versa :)

As for the wall covering, could just be a cheap way to cover up old tattered wallpaper or old stained and chipped paint. This is, after all, at the tail end of the Great Depression as the economy was beginning to kick into gear to support WWII.

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