Vintage Photo Wednesday, Vol. 26: Rocket Ship Prize, 1954

This week I take a break from my New Jersey-centric photos to feature a pair of really cool images from Life magazine. They were taken in Washington, D.C. by noted Life photog Yale Joel in 1954, although I’ve been unable to determine when or if they actually ran in the magazine.

From what I can gather, some lucky boy won a contest involving a rocket ship. I’m not sure what he did to win it — dress up and send in a picture or write an essay perhaps. But the rocket rolled into town on the back of a trailer, and quite a crowd turned out to see it.

Rocket Ship Prize boy with space helmet

I’m guessing this is the kid who won the contest, all decked out in his space jumpsuit and homemade helmet. Looks like a Timmy or a Johnny.

Rocket Ship Prize Washington Square crowd

The photo description page says this about this spectacular shot, which could only have come from the 1950s: “Rocket ship prize, kids greeting ship in Washington’s Square in cardboard space helmets, truck on which it came is also part of prize, Ricky will sell truck and keep space ship in backyard of his parent’s modest home.”

How long do you suppose this rocket stayed in that back yard? I’d love to think it’s still around, but it probably didn’t make it through the 1960s.

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