Lads and Strays BENEATH the Platform, Please!


Crop of CVA 586-1313 – A.R.P. District No. 16 Celebration. 1943. Don Coltman photo. (The “Queen” appears fourth from the left in front row: Viola Balzer).

The photo above was made in 1943 on the occasion of (among other things, perhaps) the crowning of the Air Raid Precautions (A.R.P.), District 16 “Queen” Viola Balzer from among other contenders for the crown (some of whom, I assume, are on the platform with her, in addition to her younger “attendants”).

The most interesting aspects about this image, however, are not the fact that it was considered advisable to have such a thing as a “Queen” of the A.R.P., nor the names of the other folks on the platform (most of whom are not known to me), nor even the location of the coronation (although it’s probably Stanley Park or Hastings Park).

Most intriguing to me are characters in this photo who, I suspect, were never intended to appear in the final (public) crop: the stray dog, and the three young male ragamuffins (one of whom appears to me to have been of East Indian ancestry) beneath the platform! I suspect that this image was made by professional photographer Don Coltman mainly for his own entertainment.

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