A dose of nostalgia and workwear for your weekend. This 1950s film about the development of the U.S. railroad system is a great looking little piece of history. “America is the living symbol of the miracle of modern production.” Well said Mr. Industrial Propaganda Film announcer. Check out those brand new Caterpillar dozers at the 2:03 mark, the plaid work shirt at 6:19 and all of those factory scenes. Great stuff.
This past weekend The San Francisco Chronicle and writer Aaron Britt weighed in on the work wear trend. Aaron was kind enough to speak to your humble blogger about the specifics and even included a photo from my trip to the Post O’Alls factory a few weeks back. Many thanks again to Mr. Britt and also to Annie Wilson for going to the trouble of mailing me copies. Print version below, online here.
When it comes to the Life photo archive I seem to be stuck in the year 1942. The mining always begins at random places and seems to inevitably end up around WWII. The Brooklyn Navy Yard has long been a fascination of mine, and these pictures of war-time industry help to scratch that itch. One day when ACL is a massive corporation (with interests in everything from ladies undergarments to heavy equipment; just like the Japanese!) the world headquarters will hopefully be at the navy yard in good ole Kings County, Brooklyn USA.
To relax, some people play golf or some people go sailing; I like to visit factories. Maybe it was all those Mister Rogers “how it’s made” segments I watched as a child. Or it could just be my insatiable curiosity about what goes into things. Provenance and all that sort of good stuff. POST OVERALLS started making its own line of work wear back in 1993, well before anyone ever thought about reproducing authentic American goods like chore coats, dark denim jeans and chambray shirts. Long before people were arguing about dressing blue-collar on the internets. Respect and credit is due to Post for paving the way for all of the work wear brands that are out there today.
Items from the POST O’ALLS autumn / winter 2009 collection.
There are people that love vintage workwear and then there are people that make vintage workwear. The blog Unsung Sewing Patterns is a treasure trove of old school garmento ephemera. It would be interesting to see someone go ahead and reproduce garments to these specs, of course maybe someone already is. Either way it is cool to check out the way it was way back when. More detailed instructions and specs after the jump.
One of FDR’s first programs enacted under the New Deal was the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC as it came to be known. The program enlisted thousands of out-of-work young men throughout the United States to “focus on natural resource conservation” at National, State and local park-lands. Oregon State University has a beautiful archive of images from the days of the CCC. Some of my favorites below.
Another great LIFE archive find are these color shots from Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut during the 1940s. Electric boat is the premier submarine manufacturer in the U.S., possibly in the world. My grandfather worked for General Dynamics (who owns Electric Boat) in sixties overseeing the construction of nuclear missile installations all over the country. Eventually, the family settled in the Groton area after he moved to the Electric Boat division. My father was stationed at the New London naval submarine base, which is how my parents met. Long story short, that is my connection to these images — not considering the work wear quality of the photos. You really have to hand it to the women of the era, they stepped up in a major way. This first shot below — the woman with the Acetylene torch —is a really powerful image.