May 17, 2013 9:43 PM   Subscribe

Mooseheart Orphanage, 1948 A haunting image of children's faces from the Mooseheart Orphanage, 1948. The photo was taken by Stanley Kubrick for the June 8th, 1948 edition of Look.
posted by HuronBob (18 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
They're all about 70 now, those that are still alive. They could have been my big brother or sister. I wonder how their lives went...
posted by jim in austin at 10:21 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

What is haunting about this picture? It is a picture of kids. What is the history of orphanages in America? If I didn't know already, who is Stanley Kubrick? How does this pertain to Kubrick? Did it later influence his work, or did he have further work as a photographer? What are his best works as a photographer?

Best of the web indeed.

Or possibly there was a picture that was old-timey and had the name Kubrick accredited and it is post-worthy.
posted by efalk at 10:24 PM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ectoplasm visible in the full-size image. Some say it's the ghost of the heartless moose...
posted by pracowity at 10:40 PM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

How does this pertain to Kubrick? Did it later influence his work, or did he have further work as a photographer?

posted by charlie don't surf at 11:28 PM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

Kubrick sold his first photo to Look when he was only 17, and was hired by the magazine a few months later. Some of his NYC photos for Look.

I do find the Mooseheart photo incredibly touching, especially looking at the large version in which the expressions on the childrens' faces each seem to tell a tiny tale of their feelings at that moment. I wish I could see the other photos he took for that story.

One writer does sort of connect the Mooseheart image and the Look experience in general with influences on Kubrick's cinematic work, in "Stanley Kubrick at Look Magazine: Authorship and Genre in Photojournalism and Film." Pertinent section from Google books here.
posted by taz at 11:29 PM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

What is frightening about this picture? It is a picture of a woman in a shower. What is the history of women in showers? If I didn't know already, who is Alfred Hitchcock? How does this pertain to Hitchcock? Did it later influence his work?
posted by sexyrobot at 11:46 PM on May 17, 2013 [9 favorites]

Wow, Mooseheart. When I was a little thing growing up in Aurora, just a few miles down the road, we drove past there all the time. The times I remember best were when my mother would periodically take my older sister(s) on a daylong shopping expedition to Yorktown or Oakbrook, the two closest big shopping centers -- this was in the 60s before every burb and city had its own multiple malls. As a single full-time-working parent with a modest income that didn't cover weekend childcare, she had to drag me along despite it being a known fact of life that hauling a six-year-old around the tedium that is a mall for several hours is not going to end well for anyone, ever.

With the predictable result that I would at some point become profoundly obnoxious, causing Mom to bark in the late afternoon, "Fellini Lyn Blank, if you don't stop [horrible thing I was doing] right now, I'm going to drop you off at Mooseheart." A few trips later it evolved into, "Please behave so I don't have to drop you at Mooseheart" as we approached the mall, and then finally became just a meaningful sinister glare over her shoulder as we drove past Mooseheart on the way to/from or a muttered "Mooseheart" on other occasions when I was working her last nerve.

It scared the piss out of me at the time because I was such a literalist kid I thought people, especially parents, could and would possibly do all the heinous hyperbolic stuff they said in frustrated moments, until I eventually became smart-alecky enough to retort that she should go ahead 'cause people were probably nicer there anyway. If I had any image of the place at all (I don't think I did, just an amorphous "not having a family anymore" dread), it was probably something like the "Hard-Knock Life" scene in Annie, so this picture looks way non-haunting and more reassuring to me (especially for something taken by Kubrick) than it would to the average schmoe, I suspect.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:10 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mod note: One comment deleted; let's take any further meta complaints about the post, or complaints about the complaint to Metatalk. Thanks.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:49 AM on May 18, 2013

Huh. My great-grandfather was a loyal member of his local Moose Lodge and in our family, whenever we do bother to get around to saying grace before dinner, it always has to end with "God bless Mooseheart." At this point it's more of a shoutout to my long-deceased great-grandfather than it is a conscious reference to anything, and growing up I only sort of vaguely knew what Mooseheart was, so it's interesting to finally put some human faces with it. Cool post.
posted by olinerd at 2:24 AM on May 18, 2013

Oh jeez. I hope things turned out okay for those kids, and for their kids.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:07 AM on May 18, 2013

I know a lot of children didn't have a good life in orphanages, but this particular group of children looks like any middle-American kindergarten class of the day. I'm on the "not haunting" train on this one.

(Yes, I see the two girls in similar blue dresses.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:50 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

A friend of mine who is a social worker taught and did administration work at Mooseheart for a few years. At this point, at least, a lot of the kids are not orphans, but rather their parents have problems to the point where they are unable to care for them. My friend's opinion of the place was overall very positive. Among other things, they paid every graduating senior's college tuition-- they have their own high school-- as well as giving everyone some kind of technical or trade qualification.

During the 90s, a series of house parents there were convicted of sexual abuse. It's scary to me to think what their hiring practices were to get the people described-- especially as late as the 90s, by which time the public had to be pretty aware of these dangers. I notice the article mentions that no one "found fault with Mooseheart's hiring procedure," but something was clearly out of whack. As my friend pointed out, though, there's only a small pool of applicants prepared to work as live-in house parents in institutions like that. Growing up in an institution in the 40s and 50s? I am sure a kid ran a pretty risk of coming across some horrible people. There have been enough documentaries about abuse in residential homes, in the US and elsewhere. On the other hand, I wouldn't have wanted to be in the foster system back then either.
posted by BibiRose at 5:19 AM on May 18, 2013

Wow. Mooseheart is right up the (Fox) river from where I live and grew up. I'd never known there was a Stanley Kubrick angle.
posted by hwestiii at 8:45 AM on May 18, 2013

My wife's grandmother could be one of those kids... She was there at the time. She's in the final stages of Alzheimer's though... I wish I could ask her about it.
posted by Huck500 at 10:55 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

She did always say that she was grateful for mooseheart, though, because she got educational opportunities that she otherwise wouldn't have. Besides being a hoarder, she lived a normal life and raised a somewhat normal family.
posted by Huck500 at 10:59 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Like some of the others, I'm not really understanding what is haunting about this photo.

Some of those kids seem confused, some bored, some curious, some happy, one might be asleep, etc. It's an expressive, interesting shot but haunting? I feel like I can go through that picture and match half those kids up with Hollywood types.

The little redhead in the middle's gotta be the class clown. The girl in the yellow dress in the front is the prissy tattle tale. There's the painfully shy girl who will blossom enough to sing the solo by the end of the movie way in the back.

I haven't quite pegged the one who thinks it's a tumor, though.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:07 PM on May 18, 2013

Like some of the others, I'm not really understanding what is haunting about this photo.

I used to say that Kubrick's background as a photographer was so significant in his cinematography that almost any single frame you pick out of any of his movies would make a beautiful still photograph.

But when I look at this photo, and some of his earlier photojournalism, I think I got it exactly backwards. Every still photograph he made is like a still from an entire movie.

I look at that photo in high rez, and I see the kids in very similar clothing, like the boys in overalls and striped shirts, all the same basic uniform with slight variations in color. The boys all have the same haircuts. Most of the girls have the same haircut, and a few have bows jutting out at odd angles, they obviously didn't tie the bow on their own. The kids all look like they were just groomed for this specific photo. The uniformity and conformity only seems to enhance their individuality, the subtle details stand out, like the boys with scratches on their face or ruddy cheeks, and the range of expressions on their faces is heart rending. I can't help but think of what they were thinking at the moment the shutter was clicked, and what happened in the few hours before the scene when the adults who cared for them were preparing them for this photo. This isn't just a situation of the kids all sat down and click there's a photo. This is a staged event and it has a huge, invisible drama happening just before it, and just after it. This is like a still frame taken out of context from the climax of a movie.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:51 PM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

FelliniBlank, my grandparents in Aurora told us the same thing, and they seemed to think it was a good thing. I always wondered if we'd eat fish fry every day and listen to polka music, like they had at the Moose on Friday nights.

And all yoos Fox River babies; where were you in the late 1980s when I was figuring out if I could make the last Metra train into Chicago from Geneva? Did you attend the Tequila-and-salt-lick parties at NU in the early 1990s?

How have I missed a conglomeration of western suburbs survivors?
posted by answergrape at 3:35 PM on May 20, 2013

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