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Photo Flashback: Doing Hard Time Edition

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time. And if you were doing the time in 1946 in Washington, this is how you talked to visitors:


This photo ran in the Washington Star on Aug. 30, 1946. Here's the caption: CHINESE POLICE OFFICER INSPECTS JAIL -- Col. Curtis Reid (right), District Jail superintendent, explains the telephone communication system for dangerous inmates to Capt. Tang Dah-wey, leader of a party of six Chinese Nationalist government police officers who inspected the institution today. The inmate views his visitor through the diamond-shaped glass in the partition while talking on the phone. No physical contact is possible.

Notice something odd about the photo? The man on the left has only half a face. I'm running the whole photograph but when it ran in the paper, the man on the left was cropped out. An artist painted out his face and altered the front of his suit to make it look like the center figure's coat sleeve. Such retouching was common on photos back then.

While we're in a penal frame of mind, here's another Star photo, this one from Dec. 14, 1940.


The informational note taped to the photo reads: Photo shows Asst. Engineer of the Jail, John G. Sherwood, as he spoke into one of the new Visitors Booths....The Booth is fitting with a speaking arrangement through thick glass, (to prevent any articles being passed to a prisoner), all of which is soundproofed to prevent others, except Guards, from hearing the conversations....

Have a funny caption for either of these photographs? Share it in the Comments section below.

By John Kelly  |  August 10, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Photos of Washington  
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