Super Speed Razors: The Post World War II Shaving Culture in America to 1955

Discussion in 'Double Edged Razors' started by mgbbrown, Nov 14, 2015.

  1. mgbbrown

    mgbbrown Contributor Contributor

    Another piece that was restored for the office was a 1954 RCA Standard Broadcast table radio. This was one of the earlier plastic cased table radios, replacing the Bakelite Pre-War versions. I have had this particular radio for close to twenty years, and like the Western Electric 5302 telephone- with the good intentions of returning it to an as-new condition as I possibly could. I was quite fortunate to have found the radio in working order, so the chassis required nothing further than a deep cleaning. The case, however, was progressively sanded to twenty-thousand grit, followed by a buffing with mothers Polish and Novus II. It is now totally free of gouges and scratches, and looks the business. The antenna is a successive wire loop affair and can be seen behind the rear backing of the case. The radio can only pick-up AM stations, but the sound through the original speaker is quite glorious in that vintage, 1950's sense of the word. God Bless! Tony Brown RN mgbbrown RCA Victor 1954 Standard Broadcast Table Radio.JPG RCA 1954 Standard Broadcast Chassis Rear View.JPG
  2. Thank you Tony for the wonderful photos. One can really appreciate how good and beautiful things were done back in the days.
  3. mgbbrown

    mgbbrown Contributor Contributor

    MGB Rally Gear - Curta II Calculator.jpg Thanks Mata 66! This whole love affair began with finding my father's 1956 B4 Super Speed as far as razors are concerned, but my nod to the 1950's was cemented through my love of American and British automobiles from that era. Craftsmanship was indeed unparalleled, and the Japanese and Germans were just beginning to find inroads into the American market, fueled by the Post-War Marshall Plan, again with unprecedented quality. The office is both a nod to my past, as well as a collecting point for things predominantly from that era or the early 1960's. I automobile rally with a Curta II calculator, and this will also be on my desktop. Nothing modern will be in view. The office is rather small, but that is certainly fine with me. It still will be a true Luddite respite from my computerized, hectic life. I shoot with a Nikon digital camera, and before that used a Nikon single lens reflex camera for doing fieldwork as an archaeologist before becoming a nurse. I found my current Nikon Cool Pix camera on a close-out sale, and it has been a wonderful investment. I plan to post more photographs today of other things I have been working on for the office, and I hope that you will find them interesting. My studio for razor photography has been the vanity of our master bathroom, as the rest of the house is slowly being rebuilt from our hot water heater dumping one hundred and fifty gallons of water into our bedroom. Insurance did not pay for but three thousand dollars worth of repairs, so this has been on our dime. Not complaining, as we count trials as pure joy and for the development of character. As I have also alluded to- our house is a giant Rubbermaid container full of items from our house growing up. My parents both loved antiques- especially my late Mom, and our house is now chocked-full of them. Our plans are to move full-steam ahead on remodeling once my childhood house in Raleigh is sold, and my MGB rally car will be completed at long last. God Bless! Tony Brown RN mgbbrown
  4. I know that Curta! One of my customers has one, and he has an exploded diagram in a frame.

    Send me a PM if there's anything you've been looking for in the way of memorabilia, and I'll see if I have it, or know someone who has one to get rid of.
  5. mgbbrown

    mgbbrown Contributor Contributor

    Will do Sir! I am trying to get as much posted before my wonderful wife Sharon Ann wants to use our gee-haunchin' Dell XPS 8500 for her schoolwork... I cannot thank you enough Bookworm! More on the Curta II as I am able- Curta's have a fascinating history! God Bless! Tony Brown RN mgbbrown HelpingHands.jpg
  6. mgbbrown

    mgbbrown Contributor Contributor

    We also have been in a picture framing and picture frame restoration frenzy. My mother had a number of 18th century botanical prints in the house, and these needed curative attention. Below are shadow boxes of various artifacts assembled during my childhood, and served to launch my future and current interests in archaeology. The small squares that you will notice is acid damage to the oxidized patina found on the majority of rhyolite pieces shadow-boxed. Even as teenagers, these were all categorized by type and location, on the small square of masking tape. Like the Dead Sea scrolls, whose early curators simply taped the fragments together- we knew nothing of tape's inherent damaging properties to artifacts such as these. The vast majority of the five hundred or so North Carolina projectile points went to my nephew, so what you see pictured are the ones which I am fairly certain to have found growing up. The New Mexico pieces were located in the road going down the middle of the North Ponil Canyon where I wrote my thesis on the archaeology and ethnobotany of the Jicarrilla Apache, so their provenience was otherwise disturbed and we were allowed to keep. Of course this is no endorsement of pot hunting, but this activity was to fuel my prehistoric interests and propel me to become an archaeologist as my initial career. In recent years, the archaeology of the Anasazi Southwest has been turned on its ear by the widespread discovery of cannibalism, and perhaps accounts for their canyon-floor uprooting to almost inaccessible cliff dwellings. In the 1970's, we were aware of some isolated discoveries at Mesa Verde, but this unfortunately had been swept under the Southwestern prehistorical carpet if you will. One of the small shadow-boxed frames contains virtually all of the Paleolithic projectile point types found in North Carolina, and one, perhaps the most cherished of them all- contains a knitting project of my late mother, Mary Alice Gay Brown. God Bless! Tony Brown RN mgbbrown North Carolina Palolithic Clovis Folsom, Hardaway Kirk Palmer Guilford.JPG North Carolina Early Archaic.JPG North Carolian Middle Archaic to Late Archaic Morrow Mountain.JPG North Carolina Archaic and Woodland Phase Tool Assemblage .JPG North Carolina Woodland Phase Pottery Shards.JPG Mary Alice Gay Brown Knitting Project.JPG
  7. During a brief off-thread conversation with Tony Brown, he asked if I had any WW2 experiences that I might share. I had my 5th birthday a week before Pearl Harbor, so my young memories are neither vivid nor comprehensive. I lived with my parents on a main highway 20 miles south of Los Angeles. Three things I do remember:

    One day I was outside playing in our front yard. I noticed a very long convoy of slow moving civilian and military vehicles going by. My mother explained they were the Japanese who were being relocated by the military.

    I remember black outs and air raid warning sirens. One night we were alerted and I went to the kitchen where my parents had a candle burning. And we waited, and waited, not knowing what would happen next. That may have been "The Battle of Los Angeles" when street rumors claimed a Japanese squadron of aircraft was over Los Angeles. Our ground artillery went into action. To this day no one knows for sure what happened, aside from damage from falling artillery shells and a few civilian deaths from heart attacks. I also remember searchlights and barrage balloons. I was fascinated by the balloons.

    Battle of Los Angeles - Wikipedia

    I also remember food rationing, and the shortage of automobiles and bicycles. When such items were made, the military had first dibs on them. I also remember a new Schwinn bicycle (the "Cadillac" of bicycles) cost $35 and I desperately wanted one. I had to wait until 1948 when my father bought me a very used non-Schwinn bicycle for maybe 10 bucks. At the time, there was a long waiting list for new bicycles and automobiles, as none had been made for 4 years. As a teenager I was not into riding bicycles. It was not until I was 28 years old and needed a bicycle to ride to college that I finally became the owner of a new and dearly loved Schwinn bicycle.

    Those were the few WW2 memories that were imprinted into my tender mind.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
  8. mgbbrown

    mgbbrown Contributor Contributor

    Steve; I cannot thank you enough for posting this! I have spoken to several ethnic Japanese-Americans who were relocated as children with their families, and they still burn from the memories of this discriminatory action.

    I was not aware of "The Battle of Los Angeles!"

    My parents never mentioned the war as a rule, and my father spoke of his service time only to relate that he manned a 20mm machine gun during battle stations- if he was not on duty as the radar man that day. He was hard of hearing as a result. For me, my hearing loss came from quail hunting with my father- a similar cause with a similar result.

    Thank you again Steve! God Bless! Tony Brown RN mgbbrown
  9. Tony, there was a lot of hysteria in the air along the California coast during those very early days of WW2. "The Bombardment of Elwood," about 125 miles up the coast from Los Angeles and within days of "The Battle of Los Angeles" also contributed:

    Bombardment of Ellwood - Wikipedia

    Then too, you folks on the east coast also had some excitement with several teams of English-speaking German agents landing on Long Island and in Florida during the early weeks of WW2:

    Operation Pastorius - Wikipedia
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
  10. Looking at it with the perspective of someone trying to fight a war against an identifiable enemy, I fully understand, and to some extent, endorse the decision of internment for the Japanese - in Texas, German speaking families that had been around for generations _stopped speaking German_ because of WW-II. What burns ME is not the internments, it was the lack of respect for the property rights of those who were interred, the way they were interred, and the lack of compensation for their livelihoods and property during that period.

    My grandparents never spoke much about that period of time. My maternal grandfather was in demolitions, and fought on the ground in France and Germany. His job? Blow up machine gun nests by crawling up to them, throwing in a grenade or two, jumping in, killing the Germans, shoot up the machine gun so it couldn't be reused, and doing it _again_. My paternal grandfather was 1) Canadian, and 2) working for Esso Exploration, and was considered too valuable to risk serving.

    What I've gathered is that especially on the west coast, it was SCARY. People didn't easily comprehend the distances between Hawaii (Pearl Harbor) and California, so they thought that it was a easy jump for the Japanese. They also _at that time_ remembered clothing going back and forth to Hong Kong easily and cheaply enough that people did it to 'send out the laundry'. (not that it was happening anymore, just that there were people that remembered it). At that time, it was easy to spot the difference between Japanese, Chinese, and European Americans - and people panicked at the thought of saboteurs, spies, and quislings.

    It's far too easy for people now to look back at actions in the past and call those people nasty names. I think the people NOW calling those past people nasty names are the ones that should be whacked upside the head for not being understanding.
  11. During WW2 there were accounts of Chinese Americans being beaten in the San Francisco Bay area, because they were misidentified as Japanese. Some Chinese citizens put signs in the windows of their homes that read: CHINESE. Hysteria makes people go nuts, and there was plenty of hysteria at that time.

    Pearl Harbor decimated our Pacific fleet. The new odds: America had no combat ready battle ships in the Pacific theater the day after Pearl, while the Japanese had 10 combat ready battle ships. All of our 8 battle ships at Pearl Harbor were sunk or badly damaged.

    It was a miracle that America won WW2, and during the first 2 years of the war it was not entirely clear we were going to win. We received a miracle and we have much to be thankful for!
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
  12. mgbbrown

    mgbbrown Contributor Contributor

    Steve and Bookworm; I apologize for not replying to your wonderful accounts! About 10,000 German POWs were detained at 18 military installations in the state, so that was one of our interesting contributions during the war. In North Carolina, German prisoners, including those interned at Camp Butner about 15 miles away- participated in compulsory work programs until their forced repatriation to Germany in the spring of 1946. The first German prisoners to enter the country came from the surviving crew members of U- Boat 352, sunk off of the Outer Banks by the United States Coast Guard cutter Icarus on May 9, 1942. After their initial debarkation at Charleston, the survivors from the original 44-man crew were taken to Fayetteville's Fort Bragg, Icarus with POW Crew U-352.jpg and later transferred to locations outside North Carolina. God Bless!
  13. mgbbrown

    mgbbrown Contributor Contributor

    Feeding POW's U-352 Crew.jpg Hall and OPCO Navay Watch Cups World War II.JPG OPCO Navy Watch Cup Porcelain Foot Rim Hallmark World War II (800x770).jpg Gillette 1951 W2 Steel Handled Super Speed Razor,  WW II Navy Watch Cup, .JPG Feeding of the U-352 POW survivors during their initial interrogation was done as a unit, rather than separation by rank. Note the handle-less US Navy watch cups, which were often commandeered as a shaving mug. God Bless! Tony Brown RN mgbbrown
  14. I notice that most of them apparently don't have razors :)
  15. mgbbrown

    mgbbrown Contributor Contributor

    They had knives and forks though- thankful to be alive and enjoying a generous first meal as captured POW's on American soil. The surviving officers, per German naval regulations, were allowed to have beards, which served to readily identify them from their seamen, but was a traditional practice in the German Navy. The U-Boat archive pictures Fahnrich zur See (Petty Officer) Ernst Kammerer, Kapitänleutnant (the U-boat Captain) Hellmut Rathke and Leutnant zur See (Ensign) Oskar Bernard with beards early in their internment at Fort Bragg. God Bless! Tony Brown RN mgbbrown U-352 Officers at Fort Bragg Fayetteville.jpg
  16. The navies required shaving, spit and polish as much as any other branches of the service, maybe even more so, but the submarine crews were exempted. In a submarine the conservation of water is paramount.

    I loved the pictures. The split second I saw them my mind yelled "Germans!" Not sure why.

    The Germans much preferred to be captured by the Americans than by the Bolsheviks. They then would get fat on American rations. With the Russians their fate was much less clear.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
  17. Is that a circa 1951 aluminum black tipped Super Speed with these WW2 cups? Wonder what the history of that is?

    And "made in China" cups??? Wait. I'm getting confused, but then I confuse easily.
  18. mgbbrown

    mgbbrown Contributor Contributor

    Well Steve, to be exact- that is a 1951, W2 date code, steel handled, Black Tip Gillette Super Speed. I have two- one with, and one without a washer separating the Bakelite TTO knob from the handle. It seems that Gillette was unsure, during the early production of the Black Tip Super Speed, that there may be undue wear at the junction of the handle and knob. That particular feature is not found on later Black Tip Super Speeds with either steel or aluminum handles. I had of course staged the photograph with that cup, which was made by Syracuse China, which was know at the time of production as the Onondaga Pottery Company, hence their OPCO back stamp on the watch cup. Another variant of the watch cup was made of white Pyrex, or commonly referred to as milk glass. Pyrex was the trade name of Corning Glass's formulation that could withstand a wide range of temperatures, and was amazingly strong with a thinner wall thickness than the vitreous clay versions of same watch cup. Fire King was another brand of milk glass, but was not produced as US Navy watch cups during the war. The Ever Ready banded badger brush is also relative to the WWII period, as is the green striped restaurant ware coffee mug made by Sterling China.

    It is certainly true that the Navy demanded spit and polish, and the discipline of being clean shaven and neatly dressed remained instilled in my father his entire life following the war. Gillette profited from the millions of returning servicemen who practiced looking sharp and being sharp- just like the name of Gillette's theme march. United States WWII submarine crews also seemed to be a somewhat unruly bunch, driven by their desire to conserve shipboard water supplies as well. Pictured is the crew of the Gato class submarine, USS Cobia, or SS- Submarine Crew USS Cobia.jpg 245. God Bless! Tony Brown RN mgbbrown
  19. mgbbrown

    mgbbrown Contributor Contributor

    WWII Personal Razor .jpg Of course not every GI carried a contract supplied razor... Note the hollow handle end. God Bless! Tony Brown RN mgbbrown View attachment 775104
  20. Neither were portable mirrors authorized, unless one wanted to attract the attention of the enemy. As I remember we were lucky to be able to use an outside rear view mirror of an army vehicle, or we shaved blindly "by feel."

    I wonder what the background of this picture is? Battlefield conditions or maybe summer camp for reservists? The tents in the background and the TTO razor suggest the latter.

    Interesting picture, that generates speculation.

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