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Picturing the Past 82: What's going on here?

Posted Tuesday, October 12, 2010, at 10:58 AM

(Photo)
An undetermined event at Bedford County Courthouse in what appears to be the 1920s. (Photo submitted by Cindy Stephenson)
Okay, mystery solvers, get your thinking caps on.

Thanks to Cindy Stephenson of Shelbyville for this postcard photo of a special event on the Shelbyville square taken, I'm guessing, sometime in the early to mid 1920s.

Cindy is curious about what particular event is taking place -- and what year. My guess is that it's a July 4 celebration in the late 1920s. Look closely in bottom center and you'll see one of the cars has a flag flying from it, which leads me to believe this is July 4. And, based on the trees, it's obviously summer. Too bad the license plates on the cars can't be read for a year.

We can tell that it was made before 1934 because it's the old courthouse clock and columns. Note that most, if not all, of the cars have soft tops. By the 1930s most cars had steel roofs.

It's interesting how many horse-and-buggies are on the square.

Cindy and I, with a magnifier, took a close look at the flags which appear to be hanging from a line and couldn't discern what exactly is on them. We also think there's a band playing under the tent on the courthouse lawn.

There's a little more to this photo than what we're posting; the original is blown up portrait-size and is larger than our scanner. Note also that someone in past years colorized the sky.

This blog has sharp-eyed readers. See what you can deduce from this photo.

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog and Wednesdays in the Times-Gazette's print edition. Reader contributions are welcome.


Comments
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I agree that this was probably a patriotic event, and the great turnout might be attributed to the fact that the picture probably was taken not very long after the ending of World War I.

-- Posted by lostinthe60s on Sun, Oct 17, 2010, at 9:16 PM

David, I tend to defer to the knowledge of marnold1118 on this one. However, I have scoured the "Postcard Memories" book, and I have a few observations. First of all, this photo was shot from the Southeast corner of the square because in a full photo you can see the steeple of the First Methodist Church, and also the Dixie Hotel. Another observation is that the pole shown in the right-hand corner could possibly be a greased pole used in a greased pole climbing contest, because in a full picture you can see a telephone pole which is somewhat shorter.

The Flag Day celebration makes sense to me as well as the Fourth of July celebration. Another day that came to my mind would be Election Day which was always a big day when all of the farmers took time out to come to town and vote.

This picture on page 72 of the "Postcard Memories" book has some writing on it. The part that I can make out says "Do you remember the day this picture was made. We were all there. Your sisters.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Oct 12, 2010, at 4:25 PM

Isn't it great to see such a turnout for a patriotic event?

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Oct 12, 2010, at 3:20 PM

David, I'm pretty confident this photo is depicting a Flag Day celebration sometime in the mid-twenties. The original for this photo was actually a postcard from my collection and I had it enlarged a few years ago to use in a presentation before the Woman's Club and the Bedford County Historical Society. Cindy recently copied a few of those postcard enlargements that I had. The postcard was from the genre of "white border" postcards published from about 1915 to 1930. There was one postcard publisher that routinely added white billowing clouds and colorized the sky, as in the postcard illustration you are using in today's blog. I have in my collection at least 15 or 20 postcards of Bedford County scenes, houses, businesses, etc. with that added blue sky to otherwise black and white cards. These cards are known today by collectors as "sky tint" cards. If you look through the historical society's postcard book, published in 2007 for the county's bicentennial celebration, you'll notice several others.

-- Posted by marnold1118 on Tue, Oct 12, 2010, at 2:16 PM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.