11 AM. Early July 1921.
Suspended from the ceiling, whisk brooms (25¢) swayed like geishas and kewpie dolls and and bathing caps (19¢-$1.29) filled the windows. You could buy “Developing” and “Printing” and “Films” and “Bromo-Selzer for Headaches” and “Soda,” but on the corner of 15th and F (Northwest) in Washington D.C., Affleck’s (Ma and Pa) Drug Store was liquidating merchandize that Peoples Drug Stores, taking possession, wanted liquidated.
Posters and movie handbills —a contractor’s ladder marks the spot—place the movies of D.W. Griffith in the context people in the early 20’s received them. At the Garrick, Griffith’s Way Down East (1921) was beginning a week long run on July 11th. At the Columbia, Griffith’s Dream Street (1921) was playing. At Loew’s Palace, Dorothy Dalton was starring in The Idol of the North (1921).
Papers to his armpit, a newspaper vendor moves out of the frame on a crutch that fades into nothing. From a window above the shoe shine stand, a construction worker pauses to contemplate the photographer. Everyone visible wears a hat and passes behind a column or across the edge of the photo.
The Idol of the North is lost, and which of us has ever heard of Dorothy Dalton? Movies of the 20s are shadows at dawn.