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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: June 11: Two photos from ‘Not an ordinary day on Brooklyn’s streets’

June 11, 2020 Phil Kaufman
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My father, Irving Kaufman (1910 – 1982), was a professional photographer who started in Brooklyn in the mid 1930s working for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He captured thousands of images of Brooklyn through the 1950s. I have recently digitized a great many of them. My father’s profile can be found here.

This week’s theme:

Last week we had a look at “An ordinary day on Brooklyn’s streets.” What’s appropriate for this week? “Not an ordinary day on Brooklyn’s streets,” of course.

A timeworn definition of news has it that “Dog bites man” is not news, but “Man bites dog” is. Similarly, ordinary street scenes, like last week’s, generally weren’t newsworthy for the Eagle at the time my father took them. Therefore, he didn’t leave much information about them. This week’s not ordinary scenes, on the other hand, are more likely to be newsworthy, and most of them come with notes that my father sent to the Eagle.

I hope that adds an extra level of interest: the pictures themselves plus their back stories. Just to keep us on our toes, however, there are still a few with little or no information and, because the scenes themselves are unusual, the lack of information is all the more frustrating.

Today’s photos:

Today’s two pictures involve crowds. Streets are not ordinary if they are overflowing with people — lots of them, close together and all there for the same reason. These scenes occurred very near to each other and happened at close to the same time, but they had nothing to do with each other. In both cases, there was a deliberate effort to draw a crowd, but for very different reasons.

Marching to the movies, summer 1943

Hollywood movies remained very popular and profitable through the war years, until television began to threaten the film industry a few years after the War’s end. But this scene shows that the popularity wasn’t taken for granted. In the middle of densely populated Brooklyn, during summer vacation time, and with air-cooled relief from the heat, theaters still felt the need to literally put on a show in the neighborhood streets to attract theatergoers. Here, a marching band attracted followers with their energetic music in the area of the Kings Highway – Coney Island Avenue intersection. They led their followers right to the front of the theater, either to enter immediately or to be tempted to come back later for the double feature.


Supporting the war, summer 1943

The Second World War was a national effort for the U.S. like no other experience in the 20th century. Gas rationing (earlier photo) was just one of the hundreds of ways everyday Americans made sacrifices during those years. In this case, the sacrifice was a very basic item: money. In fairness, it was an investment, not a donation. But war bonds took 10 years to mature, and many families didn’t have money to spare. Nevertheless, over the course of the war, 85 million bond purchases were made (from a 1940 U.S. population of 132 million) totaling approximately $185 billion.

This scene shows a war bond rally on Kings Highway just two blocks from the “Marching to the movies” location. Though not a marching band, the rally featured live music and speeches of encouragement. As you can see, quite a crowd was attracted to the event.

An index of Kaufman’s Brooklyn posts may be found here.

Irving Kaufman’s profile may be found here.

I invite you to submit comments, memories, images of Brooklyn, and especially any additional background information you can supply about the photos posted here to [email protected]. I’d also be glad to supply information about buying prints of any of the images seen here. Many of my father’s images are also available for viewing and purchase at All prints purchased will be the product of professional scanning and editing.

Weekly collection 6: Photos from ‘Not an ordinary day on Brooklyn’s streets’

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