Snapshot Stories: Lunchroom Window

Snapshot Stories is a new series of short vignettes based on old photographs. This installment features Lunchroom Window by Walker Evans. It was taken in 1929 on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 44th Street, near Grand Central Terminal.

“What is that guy looking at? The fuss is over there, pal. Nothing interesting about my lunch.” Carl would never admit to being self-conscious, but he was not in the mood of allowing anyone to document the last bite. The photographer stood still, lowering his roll film Kodak slowly, and started turning it over in his hands like a lady’s purse. His eyes wandered up the building, affecting the curiosity of a visitor on his first arrival to New York. No, he was not one of the Variety group, Carl decided.

“Are you a gold digger, too?” The provocation pierced through the mechanical chorus of clicks and distant rumblings of a passing train.

“So that’s why they’re all hounding that girl,” Sig thought, chewing absentmindedly on his stale ham sandwich. “Gold Diggers of Broadway, I think the picture’s called, the first color talkie. She must be one of the stars. I heard Nick Lucas is in that one. We should get him to do one of his numbers on our show.”

The car door remained open while the girl gathered her pale blue silk coat, trimmed with white fur, and paused with one leg on the ledge. Her hand rested casually on the passenger door handle as she glanced sideways at one of the photographers.

“She’s the type to stay at the Plaza, I know it.” Jimmy’s thoughts raced from her white satin shoes and beaded trim to the new job his father secured at the hotel. Girls didn’t dress like this in Chicago, that’s for sure. The trains were not immune to the late August heat, even in the early morning, and he had tightened and loosened his collar enough to crease the fabric by noon. He hoped no one would mistake it for negligence.