Majorette and Her Toy Baton With Red Balls

The toy baton with red balls is a mystery. Anyone have any ideas about its origin?

If you look at a photograph long enough, it will talk to you. It may not tell you its subject’s name, age or address, but it will always tell you things if you really listen. Here is what this photo is telling me.

Amusing Toy Baton

The girl is Hispanic and she’s either wearing a majorette costume for Halloween or she’s a member of a local majorette corps. The latter is unlikely, though, given that thick toy baton with red tips. We say Halloween. She’s on a playground, and its as if she has come from or is going to a school Halloween carinval.

If you look at a photograph long enough, it will talk to you.

Her costume is not particularly cheap, so, it is likely handmade. The lined cape is very cool as are all baton capes. We love the pleated skirt! Maybe borrowed from a cheerleader? The majorette jacket, with gold chains and buttons, is made out of red satin.

Witch’s Hat

These are the obvious things the photo reveals. But, it also tells us there are hills in the background. The girl is standing on a playground with two children in the background. The playground equipment, particularly the contraption known as the Witch’s Hat, dates back to the 1930s. This equipment along with the style of swings were popular through the 1970s. So, obviously this photo was likely taken before or during the 1970s. It was probably taken in the 1980s, however, but unlikely because the Witch’s Hat was very dangerous. Many kids were injured playing on it and they began to disappear from playgrounds in the 1970s.

Are there any other clues this photo provides as to its date or location? Well, the biggest clue is from the photographer himself, Daniel D. Teoli, who was a street photographer who documented street life in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s. But, even if we didn’t know this, there is one clue in this photograph that tells us this photo was taken in the 1970s: her textured knee socks and white patent shoes. We were able to examine the socks more closely using different photo filters. Also, the basketball backboard is indicative of the style of backboards form 1960s and 1970s, so the photo could not be earlier than those decades.

If anyone has a lead on the toy baton with red balls, please let us know. We found a similar baton by Amsco sold in the 1970s. It is pink with orange tips. The “Super-Ton” glowed in the dark. Amusing =)

Here is a restored version of the same photo:

From the Online Archive of California

Daniel D. Teoli, Jr., was a native of Los Angeles and a self-taught photographer. His career encompassed a variety of photographic styles and subjects—from black-and-white portraits and documentation of street life in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s to self-described “social documentary” and high-dynamic-range color portraiturein 2013, he released a hand-printed artist’s book titled Peephole: Peering Into the World of 1970s Hollywood and L.A.

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