The Take-Out Ladies: Welcome to July 1967 and the Brand New Mystery

Lots of notable things were happening in July of 1967. At the beginning of the month, this song by the Beatles debuted in London and then 2 weeks later in the U.S….

This woman successfully flew around the world following the same flight plan as Amelia Earhart…

Ann Pellegreno completed the 28,000 mile flight on July 7th, 1967

And this funny man was born on a sunny July day in Irvine, California…

Actor, writer and comedian Will Farrell born July 16, 1967

An ancient city dating back to 1628 BC was discovered in Greece. Race riots broke out in New Jersey, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin and  a sink hole swallowed two houses in Oklahoma.

The world also said their final goodbye to Scarlett O’Hara…

Vivian Leigh November 5, 1913- July 7, 1967

and tourists took the tram for the first time up to the top of the St. Louis Arch.  Other events included a new gemstone discovered in Tanzania…

Tanzanite’s beautiful blue color can only be found in one place in the entire world – in the immediate area of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

and the famous ocean liner, the Queen Mary, was sold to the highest bidder for transformation into a luxury hotel.

On her final voyage – 1967

This was also the same month in the same year that these two ladies stopped for a bite at a take out service counter…

Photographed during a decade when lunchtime sit-ins symbolized a fight for equal rights and Americans were inspired by the impactful words of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, eating out was not only a sociable activity but also a powerful statement.  These two fantastic and fascinating women posed in front of a take out service window in July 1967…

…which brings us to our mystery. If you are a regular reader of the blog, you know that we always love to explore a good vintage puzzle around here.  Whether we are trying to translate the characters on a vintage Chinese mug or figure out the author and era of an old note scrawled on White House letterhead, it is these these types of curious mysteries from history that always inspire us.

Today’s puzzle focuses on questions about this 1967 photograph, specifically the restaurant in the background. We’d like to find out the name of it, its location and the significance of the glass panel partitions between customer and employee, which was a somewhat unusual feature for takeout restaurants of the time period.

Was it part of the segregated South or just a style of architecture? Were these two women, in their pretty cat eye glasses and high-heeled shoes, simply stopping for a bite to eat or were they making a statement similar to the lunch counter sit-in crew at Woolworth’s? Are the answers in their faces as to how they were treated or were they just hungry and a tiny bit exasperated by a photographer friend insistent on capturing the moment?

These are the questions swirling around this mighty but mini photograph from fifty years ago. It was found last week  at an antique store in Nashville buried in a box full of random photographs that included a wide assortment of people, places and nationalities from around the world.  There are no notes on the back. The only true identifying mark on the front is the date stamp of July 1967.

First speculations brought to mind were that this was possibly a scene from a drive-up motor lodge (something along the lines of a Howard Johnson’s) or a  bus station depot (with the option of eating inside or outside). So we will start down those avenues first and see where our theories lead us.  As the puzzle begins to unravel clue by clue – we’ll keep you posted as to what we discover. In the meantime,  please feel free to weigh in with your theories below in the comments section too. Especially if you happen to recognize the style of building, the sign font or perhaps even the ladies themselves.

Cheers to a good mystery! And cheers  to these two ladies, for providing us with a glimpse into the world of 1960’s take out.

The Education of Ms. Jeannie: A Move to the Schoolhouse

Happy New Year dear readers! Ms. Jeannie has missed you, missed you, missed you! It has been several months since the last post in October, and in that interim between then and now, a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity has been occurring in the land of Ms. Jeannie Ology.

Indie was quite the little helper!
Indie was quite the little helper!

Most notably, there was a move to a new house and a new town.

As Ms. Jeannie said goodbye to the garden and the greenhouse, and the friends she made of the birds and the butterflies and the bald-faced hornets of the last few years,  she said hello to a history-soaked house and a bustling university town.

This was not a move to just any old house – with luck as a tour guide, Ms. Jeannie found a converted two room schoolhouse built in the 1930’s. Here’s a vintage picture of her new abode…

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Not too much has changed in appearance from that picture to today, except maybe the yard is a little more tame:) All the character and all the history are still exactly where they are supposed to be and that is pretty fantastic.

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Originally part of one of the largest cotton plantations in the County, the schoolhouse was built along with a church and a commissary building for the plantation slaves.  There is still quite a bit of farmland surrounding the house, especially across the street, so it is not hard to imagine what the scenery might have looked like 100 years ago…

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Replace the wheat fields above with acres and acres of cotton and knock down most of the trees and that would be the agricultural landscape here of the 1800 and 1900’s. While the church still remains open and active next door, the original schoolhouse caught fire and burned down completely. In 1936 it was rebuilt and continued to be operated as a public school for black children up until the 1960’s when desegregation put it out of commission entirely.

Ms. Mary Willingham was a former student of the school house…

Photo courtesy of the WPA Federal Writers' Project Interviews
Photo courtesy of the WPA Federal Writers’ Project Interviews

In 1939 she granted an interview about her life for the WPA Federal Writers Project. When asked about her education in the schoolhouse, in particular, this is what she had to say…

“So it’s my schoolin’ you wants to know about now?” she asked. “I got as far as the second grade. That’s how come I can’t talk proper now; I didn’t have enough schoolin’… us chillun went to school there during the week, and to church and Sunday school there on Sundays. That’s the way colored folks done in them days.”

While it is unclear why Mary had to leave school after second grade, we do know that the process of educating black children in the rural South both before and after the Civil War was not an easy task on many fronts.  Back in the 20th century the original schoolhouse was considered primitive by many standards. By 1915, the children still had no desks or even a cloak room to hang their coats and they would have just sat on benches lining the wall. Black teachers made 1/3 of the salary of white teachers, which meant their monthly take home pay was about $25.00 and if white teachers were teaching black children, they would have had to tolerate a lot of ridicule from the white community for their professional choices.

All this seems pretty unfair from both sides, but this schoolhouse, in particular, was actually considered pretty great back in its day because it was in a good location, had ample grounds for playing and the exterior was painted and therefore not subject to rot and mildew.

Inside, the school house is laid out like this…

Thanks to Mr. Jannie Ology for providing the drawing:)
Thanks to Mr. Jannie Ology for providing the drawing:) Little nods to the buildings history are everywhere from the “house” key…

little nods to the buildings history are everywhere from the house key…

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to the all-wood walls…

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to the giant 4′ foot by 5′ foot chalkboard in the kitchen…

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6′ foot tall windows line both the front and back of the house and 11′ foot ceilings make all 1300 sqf feel large and airy. Two pot-bellied stoves serve as heat…

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exactly what did the job way back in 1936. A few massive pieces of furniture have also been left behind from classroom days which now serve as bookshelves for Ms. Jeannie’s vintage book club

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It seems fitting to be surrounded by so many books and to be managing a book club while living in a historic schoolhouse.   It makes  Ms. Jeannie thankful that access to education and to books and to higher learning for all is so much more accessible today than it was in the 1800 and 1900’s. Living in such a space that encouraged minds to build more intelligent futures is very inspirational –  whether it be a 7 year old Mary or twenty-something year old school teacher or an eventual history-loving book club tenant. Education continues…

Boyo quite agrees. He has learned a lot himself moving from the wild back yard that introduced him to Ms. Jeannie in the first place and settling in to his new post as babysitter of the books in the new house…

boyo

As you can see education extends to all here:) Ms. Jeannie is really looking forward to sharing a variety of new adventures with you in the new year… in her new house… in her new town. Happy January dear readers, Ms. Jeannie’s glad to be back with you all:)