I participate in a Facebook group about the history of my hometown, Mechanicsburg, PA. We are trying to put a year on the following picture taken on the town’s annual street fair, called Jubilee Day.

enter image description here

Because Jubilee Day is always held on a Thursday, we already know that it was either 1947, 1952, 1958, or 1969. Because of the 48 star flag, and the kids clothes and hair, we know it wasn’t 1969.

What I am hoping is that someone with more knowledge of the period dress and styles can pin it down further.

The other big possible clue are the two vehicles in the upper right corner. The bus is unobscured and looks very distinctive to me, so if anybody could identify its model and make, that would probably do it.

Here’s a blowup of the vehicles.

enter image description here

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    I assume the buildings were in existence throughout the period 1947-1958, and so give no evidence? Feb 18, 2018 at 14:35
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    I can only go by British fashion norms, which might have been more formal than American, but judging from the women's clothes - no hats, no gloves, bare arms - I'd suspect later in your time period. (Growing up in the '50s, I rarely remember my mother going out without a hat/headscarf, and we were working class.) Can the local newspaper archives help?
    – TheHonRose
    Feb 18, 2018 at 15:23
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    You're probably right - mad dogs and Englishmen ;)
    – TheHonRose
    Feb 18, 2018 at 16:35
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    You might be able to contact the Boy Scout troop 90 asking when they were founded. (I don't see this info on their web-site .)
    – justCal
    Feb 18, 2018 at 16:36
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    Since this is now a collective hunt: do we make this one a community wiki or an extra chat? I have some hints that while altogether inconclusive are of a little certainty for some aspects; too long for comments but too weak for an answer? Feb 18, 2018 at 23:40

2 Answers 2


The many cues to observe:

Picture quality

Although it might be even higher resolution and a better scan: depth of field, focus, shadows etc point to an overall technology that's more late than sooner.

The vehicles

enter image description here RBarryYoung: Ok, I am now pretty sure that the bus is a Flxible Clipper and not a Visicoach from the Flxible owners site. The last year they were made was 1950 and since there’s no destination plate on the front I assume that it is either a show model or privately owned. Based on its location, I think it on the plaza/sidewalk, not in a parking lot so that would mean it’s on display, which should make it new. I think that should make this then no later than 1951.

Drawn carriages

a baby carriage

enter image description here

apparently a Columbia Tuk-A-Way
For comparison:

From an auction on ebay

Source: VTG 1950's Columbia TUK-A-WAY Baby Stroller Westfield Mfg MOTHER Children's Ad Earliest date of manufacture? (If newspaper ads confirm that its 1954?) Note that it has been patented. Date for the patent?
kimchilover: The Tuk-A-Way dates to 1955 or earlier: see this 1955 ad, for instance: aditorial in Life Magazine 20 Jun 1955
Describing the cart as an innovation from "in the last two years" (but there seem to have been sturdier versions of the cart in question and "last two years" is imprecise and might mean publication date minus 2,99 years")
An earlier dated Photo is 1954 PRESS PHOTO TUK-A-WAY, using the same source material for a collage as the VTG picture.

another baby carriage?

enter image description here

The boyscouts:

enter image description here
When were they founded?
What is this font, exactly?

T-shirt boy

enter image description here
When did it became acceptable, when mainstream to wear this in public?

(mid 50s?)

The street lamps

enter image description here
Distinctive style, introduced when, exchanged when?

The shop names

enter image description here
An ".._LCO" and "Biddle's" sign.
When were they active, in that location?

Fashionable sun glasses

enter image description here
A lady with what appears to be cat's eye glasses -> mid 50s

Fashionable socks and naked shoulders

enter image description here

A lady exposing her shoulders and a boy wearing quite sloppy socks and (sneakers)? -> late 50s

More naked shoulders

enter image description here

Madame couture

enter image description here

The most fashionable lady yet.
Trousers, relatively tight, with slits, also in bobby socks, flat shoes, rolled up sleeves. Might be Capri pants:

Capri pants were introduced by fashion designer Sonja de Lennart in 1948. The name of the pants is derived from the Italian isle of Capri, where they rose to popularity in the late 1950s and early '60s
-> mid to late 50s

Miniskirt girl

Quite an outlier for the rest of the scene:
enter image description here
a girl in what has to be identified as a miniskirt? That complicates things substantially.

Hemlines were just above the knee in 1961, and gradually climbed upward over the next few years. By 1966, some designs had the hem at the upper thigh. Stockings with suspenders were not considered practical with miniskirts and were replaced with coloured tights. The popular acceptance of miniskirts peaked in the "Swinging London" of the 1960s, and has continued to be commonplace, particularly among younger women and teenage girls. Before that time, short skirts were only seen in sport and dance clothing, such as skirts worn by female tennis players, figure skaters, cheerleaders, and dancers.

Current situation

An approximation of the location with Google Earth: enter image description here

Compared to the above: the church has now a different top: enter image description here

On the old picture there is a spire missing. when was that done?

Edit: According to this site, the steeple was changed in 1978, so no help there:

In 1978, The First Church of God, 28 E. Main St., Mechanicsburg, was receiving its new 4-ton, 42-foot-long steeple, which came into town on a flatbed tractor-trailer.

Current conclusion:

The vehicles might be a bit outdated, the women's fashion seem to firmly rule out late 40s and early 50s.

For fashion info:
Vintage Socks | 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s History
1940s Swing Pants & Sailor Trousers- Wide Leg, High Waist
1940s Style Skirts- Vintage High Waisted Skirts
1940s Style Hats
1950s Dresses, 50s Dresses | Swing, Wiggle, Pin Up Dresses
1950s 50s Costumes- Poodle Skirts, Grease, Monroe, Pin up, I Love Lucy
1950s Swing Skirt, Poodle Skirt, Pencil Skirts
1950s Housewife Dress | 50s Day Dresses

A concise illustrated history of Women’s Fashion and Style – 1940 to 1949 –
50s wardrobes
40s Women's Clothing
50s Women's Clothing

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    thanks, good stuff. Biddles was there from 1910-1987. The other I don't know, we're seeing if anyone remembers. The girls hemline is misleading I think, because the rules for immature girls were always considerably different than for mature girls and young women. The picture quality is exceptional, but I think that people tend to underestimate how high the quality of old B+W professional photos were. (I am more impressed with how good the conversion/scanning was for this). Feb 19, 2018 at 16:25
  • The capri(?) style pants struck me also, I thought that they might be a real bellweather for pinning down the year. Any specific references for them? Feb 19, 2018 at 16:27
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    Its evident on all of the flags with discernable stars, but the clearest is the central one, hanging from the pole pointing at an angle into the the center of the photo. Even though you cannot see all of the stars, if you compare it to all of the flags of the 20th century, it's clear that there is only one it could be. The 48-star flag was the only one with the stars laid out in a rectilinear grid (6x8) which these are. All other flags close to this time period had the stars in staggered offset rows (as our current 50-star flag does). Feb 19, 2018 at 16:53
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    This is a civic affair run by a conservative town hall and Chamber of Commerce, as long as they had at least a few months notice, there's no way they wouldn't have the right flags. Feb 19, 2018 at 17:42
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    So, by elimination, it would be 1958, no? Apr 29, 2019 at 15:20

It was taken about 1970, if you believe The Pram Museum, since the baby stroller in the right foreground is a Columbia Tuk-A-Way (USA manufacturer).

Although, here's an ad for the same stroller reportedly offered in 1954. From the auto in the photo, that seems likley.

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    The Tuk-A-Way dates to 1955 or earlier: see this 1955 ad, for instance: books.google.com/… Feb 19, 2018 at 20:31
  • Yes, you beat me to the correction.
    – herb guy
    Feb 19, 2018 at 20:33
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    As for Westfield: look at the bottom part of the ad: Westfield was the firm, Columbia was its brand name. As for Google: I entered the terms into the search box, clicked the "more" option box, chose "books", and got some hits. The text I posted was from the summary list of results: Google does not give out electronic versions of the Gazette. I am not skilled enough to find it on the USPTO web site. Feb 19, 2018 at 21:44
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    LangLangC, thanks for the internet archive thing. The trademark application is on what my viewer says is p87 (of 992 in all), on "March 1, 1955", page TM 10. The complete text is "SN 660,519. The Westfield Manufacturing Company, Westfield, Mass. Filed Feb. 2, 1954. TUK-A-WAY For Folding Strollers for Children. Use since Nov. 30, 1953." The words TUK-A-WAY are an image of the logo. Herb Guy's point is well taken. This evidence (I think) rules out 1947 and 1952. Feb 19, 2018 at 22:36
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    As I suspected from early on based on fashion, 58 is very probable. Unless the other clues do not turn something else up, the stroller is a kicker. – herbguy and @kimchilover: integrate that into the wiki answer (after a little while – woul like to know about the church spire). Although I think herb was a little gun jumping at first (70s…) he did identify the stroller, so deserves the rep here. +1 Feb 20, 2018 at 1:49

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