Uniforms of the 1930s.

A place for discussion of mounted services uniforms, headgear, footwear and related personal equipment of the horse soldier.
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Uniforms of the 1930s.

Post by Pat Holscher » Wed Feb 20, 2002 8:08 pm

During the brief hiatus (thanks again for all the hard work Todd) a couple of us had a conversation on the uniforms of the 1930s. I found it very interesting, and wanted to start it up here.

Anyhow, the uniforms following the post 1926 change from the high collared service coat, up until the full blown combat dress of WWII, make for some interesting study. As odd as it may seem now, at least for some weather and seasons, the open collared service coat, together with tie, was the field uniform. Of course, in other weather and seasons, khaki, sometimes with tie, sometimes not, was the field uniform.

The tie itself, we discovered, was an item of some variety and change. It actually started out as black silk, ultimately becoming a black wool tie. In 1942 black yielded, in part, to OD mohair. At some point khaki ties were added prior to WWII.

Of course, in the late 30s the Army bagan to experiment with a more practical field uniform which would ultimately lead up to the field jacket, etc, and the more familiar patterns of WWII. Still, the somewhat impractical field uniform of the 30s remains interesting, and not too bad looking either. And even well into WWII you can see the remnants of the field uniform of the 30s in both the dress and field uniforms of WWII. Some photos follow.

Comments?


<img src="http://mywebpage.netscape.com/PatHolscher/8a13697r.jpg" border=0>

US general officers together with a Mexican general.

<img src="http://mywebpage.netscape.com/PatHolscher/8d05666r.jpg" border=0>

A cavalry lieutenant, in the field, in khaki sans tie.

<img src="http://mywebpage.netscape.com/PatHolscher/8d05954r.jpg" border=0>

In this photo note the 30s pattern lace up boots.

Pat



Edited by - Pat Holscher on 02/26/2002 19:41:21

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Post by Ron Smith » Thu Feb 21, 2002 9:23 pm

The questions I raised in off forum emails were admittedly self serving. I am doing my best to develop a 1940's era Officer impression for competition use. The uniform I reference is a dress uniform as opposed to a field type in shirt and breeches.

Officers as we know had some lattitude in thier appearance and dress for horse shows seems to have followed Class A regs. I am curious about the "Dress Blues", I have seen may original sets including General Henry's and Chamberlin, they are tremendous in presentation. Duplication of such garments is hard at best.

Information about regs pertaining to the officer dress of 1938 - 52 would be helpful if any one has that material. I am interested primarily in mounted dress. Head gear is an area that is hard to determine.

Regards,
Ron Smith

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Post by Pat Holscher » Thu Feb 21, 2002 10:25 pm

The questions I raised in off forum emails were admittedly self serving. I am doing my best to develop a 1940's era Officer impression for competition use. The uniform I reference is a dress uniform as opposed to a field type in shirt and breeches.

Officers as we know had some lattitude in thier appearance and dress for horse shows seems to have followed Class A regs. I am curious about the "Dress Blues", I have seen may original sets including General Henry's and Chamberlin, they are tremendous in presentation. Duplication of such garments is hard at best.

Information about regs pertaining to the officer dress of 1938 - 52 would be helpful if any one has that material. I am interested primarily in mounted dress. Head gear is an area that is hard to determine.

Regards,
Ron Smith
I'll see what I can dig up re dress uniforms.

One of the oddities of the time was that there was less of a distinction between dress uniforms and field uniforms than there is now. The photo of the US general officers with the Mexican officers is a good example of that, as if you had the US officers take off their web gear and helmet, and put on their service caps, and put on their decorations, they'd more or less be in the dress uniform for WWII. The officer's pinks and greens of the WWII dress uniform (one of the best looking uniforms the US Army ever had, in my opinion) really was just a variant of what was also the field uniform from 1926 until the late 30s.

In a sense, this was simply a straight evolution of the WWI type uniform, in which the typical parade or dress uniform did not vary at all from the field uniform, except for the helmet and web gear.

Of course, as you mention, officers had a lot of leeway at this time. Boots and breeches, for one thing, seem to have varied. Also, items of civilian jewelry, such as tie bars, show up.

Dress blues are another topic altogether, an done about which I'm wholly ignorant. I'd be curious as to what the standard was for mounted officers. US Army dress blue uniforms have always been an underutilized and attractive uniform. Today they're amongst the best looking of the Army dress uniforms.

Another uniform of the 30s and 40s, which a photo sent to me by Philip reminded me of, was the khaki service coat uniform. My father's summer dress officers USAF uniform of the 1950s is very similiar. The khaki service coat, however, is almost completely forgotten as an Army uniform. To my eye it varied less from the enlisted pattern than the green officer's service dress did.

Pat

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Post by Redhorse » Fri Feb 22, 2002 2:06 pm

Randy Steffen's Horse Soldiers series is an excellent reference for all the uniforms used by the US Cavalry, including the many variations of the dress uniform.

As for dress blues, the coat we wear today has not changed really since 1938 (I think) since that pattern was introduced. You can find what you need at any Military Clothing Sales on any post EXCEPT for riding breeches. Breeches use the same colors and gold striping as the trousers, but of course are cut differently.

Therefore, the items you will need are: Coat, White Long sleeve shirt (without buttons on the corners of the collar), Black Tie, Blue Service cover, branch lace and metal insignia for the coat and cover, Cav/Armor Shoulder Straps, suspenders and Breeches. Boots will vary in pattern since officers buy their own uniforms. Be ready to spend close to $400 (minus boots) to include tailoring.

I've been looking for regulation breeches for months, and can't find them. I even e-mailed the central issue facility at Ft. Myer, where the caisson platoon gets their stuff, but got no reply as to the supplier.

Stephen P. Wuensche
First Lieutenant
Field Artillery

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Post by Ron Smith » Fri Feb 22, 2002 2:32 pm

I was not sure of the coat, I make the breeches, so contact me and I can supply you that item. All of the other items are easy (for me anyway)since I am in the business of selling European riding boots and I collect many of the items mentioned.

The cover was an area I was unsure of as well, it actually sounds rather simple to put the 30's 40's Dress blue uniform together. Excuse the short tone, I am running late for my next ride.

Thanks & Regards,
Ron Smith

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Post by dimarcol » Fri Feb 22, 2002 9:40 pm

Just for fun... this is opening hunt a Leavenworth 1999. I wear blues every year for opening and closing hunts and of course mess for the hunt ball. Its risking just wearing the service cap and jumping but it does provide some protection from low branches as the few dents in mine attest.

Essentially this is identical to the 1930s / 40s dress blues though the weight of the material now is significantly lighter (I think they were 100% wool). I wear dress black boots while in the previous era the boots were the same brown as the service uniform boots.

Also, the horse would probably have been a solid color back then but I have trouble drinking while on my bay WB and had to make a prioritization decision My appy (Topeka) provides a nice smooth ride, is a steady jumper, and I don't have to worry about spilling a drop.

Lou D


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Edited by - dimarcol on 02/22/2002 21:43:14

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Post by Ron Smith » Fri Feb 22, 2002 9:54 pm

Lou,
Some of the pics I have seen appear to show black boots with the dress blues and I "think" (scary for me you know) that Steffan shows black boots as well. Did I misread that? I often wondered about the boots with dress blues in the 30's & 40's.

If I rememeber correctly General Henry's uniform (33 Dress Blue) had a black visor cap, but I can not remember the boots.

In my research I am finding many photos of Officers riding Paint horses in the 30's and 40's, and not playing Polo but in training. Not just one or two photos either, significant numbers, so that Ol Appy is not as out of place as regs make it. But that is another thread.

Regards,
Ron Smith

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Post by Philip S » Fri Feb 22, 2002 11:02 pm

In the Oct 1998 issue of "Armes Militaria Magazine" there is a b&w picture of seven standing officers wearing the 1938 Blue dress uniform. Four have blue trousers with dark (prob. black) shoes. The other three officers are wearing light colored breeches with what appear to be brown dress boots. All have white gloves and one is carrying a crop. Unfortunately the description is in French.

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sat Feb 23, 2002 8:08 am

I wonder if what we are thinking might be black boots from that period might actually be repeatedly polished, etc., dark brown boots. Some of the purchased officer's cavalry boots seem to have bee quite a bit darker in tone than the russet officially proscribed, and they become darker with use. Then there's the effect of b&w photos on that. This comes to mind as we often read of Patton wearing special black boots, which I'm totally convinced is in error, and a myth created partially by the movies, and partially by viewing of b&w photos.

In the color plate, Steffens does indeed show the visor as being black for dress blues since around 1904 or so, and it would argue in favor of black boots. In one of his drawings he has black boots for the dress blues uniform for the officer, but that is the 1907 uniform (which is quite similiar). For the em, he shows black visor with russet boots. While Steffens is valuable as a resource, of course, on this I think I might want independant verification, if any can be found.

As a total aside here, somewhere I have a photo of Eisenhower in WWII wearing boots that appear very similar to the post war black combat boot. During that period, of course, the standard combat boot, of whichever variety, was russet. Moreover this laced up to about that height, which neither variant of the standard combat bood did. I had picked up that there was a little used boot of this type adopted for officers only in the war, but I'm wondering if that was correct. I've never seen a photo of anyone else wearing such an item, and I wonder if it is just another Ikeism. Ike, unlike Patton, does seem to have departed from the official uniform to some degree.

I wonder if breeches originally went with the 38 blues uniform. I know some cermonial outfits wear them now, and they look sharp, but I wonder when that actually came about. I suspect that it may have been a dismounted uniform at first, but I'm talking purely out of my hat there and may well be totally off base.

As an aside, in looking at officer's uniforms of this period, it is interesting how much disunity there was in the uniform. Officers seem to have had tremendous leeway, and there are many photos of all sorts of items that don't quite fit a standard pattern, or are civilian items. The uniforms varied quite a bit in cut, etc., and officer's often wore civilian riding boots of one kind or another. It is as though they were expected to dress to a certain style, as opposed to purely to a certain uniform. Interesting era.

Pat

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Post by dimarcol » Sat Feb 23, 2002 9:20 am

Its an interesting topic. I'll throw in a couple more observations/comments.

All officers wore custom made uniforms by civilian tailors for everything except field duty. Boots especially were custom made and a wide variety were worn. This tradition continues today. So you can expect little strict adherance to regulation. Service custom and traditions of the time won't be documented in regulation but their existance can often be infered from pictures. For example modern US tankers still persit in wearing dehner strap tanker boots and even 3 buckle cavalry pattern boots -- tho no regulations permit their wear -- pictures however demonstrate how common they are.

Steffen describes the 1938 dress uniform with blue coat, russets boots and with service breeches (buff colored). I have have several pre WWI color plates of the mounted 1902 pattern blue full dress uniform with the russet colored boots worn with the uniform. On the cover of Langellier's "Sound the Charge" the plate shows the two NCOs wearing issue russet boots (leggings) and the officer (a LT I think) in the background wearing black dress riding boots. The mounted breeches were sky blue.

I know for a fact that through 1936 the hidden button 1902 pattern blue with black mohair trimmed dress jacket was worn by the cavalry olympic teams for the awards ceremonies and dressage competition through 1936. Even though after 1917 the uniform was not regulation. I suspect they wore it because they needed a dress uniform and the regulations did not authorize one. I haven't been able to find pictures of the 1948 dressage competition but I wouldn't be surprised that the dress uniform for that event was replaced by the service uniform as a concession to the "wartime" mentality and conditions still prevailing in many armies.

The problem with dress uniforms is during and after WWI full dress were removed from the uniform requirements as a concession to the war effort and economy. These uniforms were not brought back officially and then as optional wear in 1937/1938. Since it was optional wear enlisted soldiers could not have been required to wear them and therefore you won't see units on parade in dress blues. In 1941 the requirment for dress uniforms was removed again. But many WWII era junior officers I know bought them anyway and wore them and looked for occassions to wear them.

I suspect that the russet boots and buff breeches were regulation mounted wear for the 1938 uniform because the regulation was trying to balance economic issues regarding what officers would be required to purchase in the midst of the depression. Mounted officers would thus have no additional financial commitments because of the new uniforms. Officers, understanding the "spirit" of the regulation would have gone ahead and winked at the regulation and worn a black civilian dress boot and had their tailors make them sky blue breeches as they could afford it.

The only unit that I can imagine wearing the dress blue uniform mounted after 1938 would have the ceremonial squadron of the 3rd Cavalry at Fort Meyer but pictures of this unit on parade are rare. Even though it was optional, this was a special unit and they may have provided dress blues to enlisted soldiers. It would be interesting to track down a picture of the 1941 inaugaration parade and see what they are wearing because that would have been the standard for the Army. If anyone had a pic of a post 1938 parade of this unit I'd love to hear about it.

I think the bottom line is that for officers wither black or russet boots and buff or skyblue breeches would be "authentic." I think this represents a pattern that indicates you won't find "hard" answers to many question of uniforms. I can think in my own military career of all the different ways I have put together my field gear and except for a stand-to inspection, it was never the same and never regulation. I think its interesting exercise though because it because it causes you to think in terms of the period and consider transition periods, wartime, practicality, economy, and then interpetations of the "spirit" of the regulations.

Lou D.

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sat Feb 23, 2002 5:01 pm

Wow, really great information from Lou, thanks.

A couple of odds and ends. Awhile back I clicked on one of the newest members from the menu below that allows you to do that. I can't recall who the new user was, but I remember that whoever it was, was brave enough to post a photo on their profile, which you can do. Anyhow, which ever poster did that had a photo of themselves and another rider in dress blues.

So, whoever you are, can you detail that for us?

Another item. In reading this thread, and in looking a the information in Steffens, it would appear that the current dress blue uniform is almost unchanged since 1938. Is this also true of the rare white dress uniform? Anyhow, is this also correct about the dress blue uniform? I'm sure the change in fabrics makes a difference. For example, I have my uncles em dress green jacket of wool from the late 50s, and it appears different from my dress green jacket from the early 80s. In fact, the wool one, same cut and pattern, looks a lot better. Same deal with the Air Force uniform. My father's one from the early 50s looks better than those which had the same pattern from later on. Anyhow, I'm sure the fabrics must appear different. Correct?

Also on this, is the em dress blue the same as it was in 38?

Following up on this, it occured to me that it might actually be a bit difficult to do a late 30s dress blue impression, ironically, for the very reason that the uniform is so little changed. That is, except for people who can read ribbons, a person might assume they were looking at a present day officer rather than an impression of a late 30s officer. For an officer of the late 30s, of coruse, you might want to put on a WWI Victory medal or something, but probably hardly anybody could recognize what it was. Indeed I can imagine the dress blue uniform creating a little bit of confusion if a person was in a locality where current serving officer were hanging around.

One final item. I know that I saw, on television, an event of some sort in which a serving officer in the US army participated, some twenty to twentyfive years ago. The officer was wearing the current dress green coat, dress cap, but was wearing khaki breeches. It must have been more like twentyfive years ago as khaki uniforms still existed, although not as trousers with the green dress coat. The officer had russet riding boots on. Was this uniform a put together one by the officer in question in order to ride in the event, or was there still a uniform of this type at that time?

Pat

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sat Feb 23, 2002 10:00 pm

Philip's server is having some problems, so this is actually from him, for whom I'm posting:

The Sept-Oct 1936 issue of "The Cavalry Journal" has an illustrated
article on the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The pictures are not very good
quality but it appears that the service uniform was used for all
competitions but dressage. The three dressage team members wear the
dress blue tunic and cap. Major Tuttle is shown with dark blue breeches
the same shade as the tunic and having a broad stripe. Captains Kitts
and Babcock wear lighter shade breeches (but apparently still darker
than service breeches)without a stripe. The boots are quite dark and
probably black.

Interestingly, the writer of the article attributes the relatively poor
showing of the Americans to their use of a small, light horse. In Europe
"no horse is favorable regarded in their dressage contests who is not
possessed of such size and proportions as to make him striking to the
eyes of the judges and to give him that indefinable something spoken of
as "presence." Further he must show great NATURAL impulsion and
NATURALLY free and flowing gaits." Also, the Americans suffered from the
lack of experience in dressage competitions.





Pat

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Post by dimarcol » Sun Feb 24, 2002 1:36 am

Pat, Phillip

The pictures used in the Cav journal are the same used in Gustav's Rau's history of the 36 equestrian events. The book has all the journal pics and more and all excellent quality. My reading of the pics is that Kitts appears to have dark stripe, Babcock a faint or no stripe, and Tuttle a clear bright stripe. I know that some early bw photos did not show yellow well and wonder if this could be the cause for Kitss. Or, possibly they are wearing stripes of branch color? For officers I thought the stripe was always gold regardless of Branch was that the case for the 1902 dress blues or just the 1938? Kitts was field artillery (red), babcock cavalry (yellow), and Tuttle quartermaster (mustard/gold/yellow?).

Note the band of the blues service hat are also suppose to be the branch color. Tuttle's in very bright, babcock kind of grey, and Kitts very dark. Based on that perhaps the pants stripes are matching the had bands, i.e. branch colors. I'm not sure .

The tunics are clearly the 1902 buttonless dress blue coat with black trim.

I've read Tuttle's after action report on the dressage competition to Guy Henry. He was not a happy camper. He quotes the German coach advising him that there is no way the American's would win a Metal because European politics had already determined who was going to win. Hmmmm... can you say pairs skating?

I've quickly posted 3 pics from Rau's book. Think they are the same or similar to the journal pic. Hope they post okay.

Do you think they would ever imagine this would be the subject of discussion 70 years later?


Lou D.

Image
Image
Image



Lou D.

Edited by - dimarcol on 02/24/2002 01:43:42

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Post by Ron Smith » Sun Feb 24, 2002 1:52 pm

Gentlemen,
Thank you for the detailed and informative discussion. This is an area of great interest to me but I am possessing little knowledge in this yet. Of all the uniform specimens I have seen for mounted EM & Officers the branch stripe was sewn in the seam of the breeches.

Of particular interest is a 1894 recruiting Sergeants uniform, his breeches (trousers were the period id) were more of the common sky blue color seen in the ACW and Indian Wars, also his striping was green. Practically all the uniforms that I inspected with blue breeches, the color was more Royal blue and these dated from 1896 on. The branch stripe for Cavalry was golden and not yellow as seen in the pre 1900 years. When capes were worn, they were black with branch color lining, the Arty boys win that one for style. That Scarlet lining was stunning, also the cap had the band in branch color. In some pics Phillip sent me there are Officers wearing what "appears" to be "pinks" with the dress blue coat. Lou was the reference of "buff" to mean what I know as "pinks"?

In April I hope to get to pick the brain of some past Horse troopers and Officers and find out more about the way the Dress blues were done and when. Nothing like talking to the men who wore them. "Lou I will glady give those books on the 36 team a home if you need the shelf space".

Regards,
Ron Smith

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Post by Redhorse » Mon Feb 25, 2002 8:13 am

I don't have any information in regards to boot color for the 40s, but today black would be issue if not by regulation then by default due to the fact that the army specifies black for all footgear today.

The dress white uniform (very rare, I've only met one officer with a set) is of the same pattern and cut as the Class A's, but of course is white. I don't believe its pattern has changed much since 1938, either.

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Field Artillery

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Post by Pat Holscher » Mon Feb 25, 2002 10:41 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE id=quote><font size=1 face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id=quote>quote:<hr height=1 noshade id=quote>

I haven't been able to find pictures of the 1948 dressage competition but I wouldn't be surprised that the dress uniform for that event was replaced by the service uniform as a concession to the "wartime" mentality and conditions still prevailing in many armies.

<hr height=1 noshade id=quote></BLOCKQUOTE id=quote></font id=quote><font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size=2 id=quote>

Lou,

Here's some photos of the 1948 US Army Olympic team, not all of which are on point for the quote above. Philip emailed me the site where the first two photos are located, referring me to the photos (thanks Philip). The third photo I'm frankly not sure about, whether it is an Olympic photo or not of the famous horse Democrat, but Gen. Wing appears to be wearing the service uniform, so I've linked it in. Anyhow, the Olympians all appear to be wearing the service uniform in these photos.

http://www.uset.com/trophyroom/tr_army8.htm

http://www.uset.com/trophyroom/tr_army9.htm

http://www.showjumpinghalloffame.net/in ... wing.shtml


<BLOCKQUOTE id=quote><font size=1 face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id=quote>quote:<hr height=1 noshade id=quote>
The dress white uniform (very rare, I've only met one officer with a set) is of the same pattern and cut as the Class A's, but of course is white. I don't believe its pattern has changed much since 1938, either.

Stephen P. Wuensche
First Lieutenant
Field Artillery
<hr height=1 noshade id=quote></BLOCKQUOTE id=quote></font id=quote><font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size=2 id=quote>

When is this uniform ever worn? The only photo I've ever seen of it being worn is a victory parade at the end of the Gulf War in which Gen. Schwartkopf was wearing it. Strange that the patter in 38 is the same as now, as that pattern didn't become the norm until some time in the 50s

Pat

Edited by - Pat Holscher on 02/25/2002 22:43:22

Edited by - Pat Holscher on 02/25/2002 22:46:48

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Post by dimarcol » Mon Feb 25, 2002 11:13 pm

The white dress uniform is the summer equivelant of the blue dress uniform. Blues have pretty much replaced it in moderate climates. In the early 1980s it was still manditory for all officers stationed in the tropics (Panama and Hawaii at a minimum, and attache's at embasseys in those type climates). It is still seen regularly among officers in Army units in Hawaii and officers on diplomatic duty, but is no longer generally required. A long time ago the uniform was made of very light weight cotton and held its shape through massive applications of starch. The more modern versions are a polyester blend.

The 3rd photo of Gen Wing is a training photo of the '48 team -- I think it was taken in Garmish Germany which was the team training site (tough life). Wing rode democrat in the 48' Olympics and tied for 3rd place in stadium jumping falling to 5th in the jump off. Wing was a great soldier and was the regimental commander of the 5th Cavalry, 1CD during the Phillippines Campaign and in the liberation of Manila. Democrat would go on to win team bronze under CPT Russel in the '52 Olympics and was a favorite of future Olympic icon Bill Steinkraus.

Lou D.

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Post by Todd » Mon Feb 25, 2002 11:49 pm

Looks like Geocities has some kind of block on external pages referring to hosted images - I pulled them down and put them on our server - hope this helps!

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Post by Philip S » Tue Feb 26, 2002 8:35 am

Thanks webguy...that is very helpful. Lou's pictures are much better than those printed in the "Cavalry Journal." I agree that each rider has a colored stripe on his breeches corresponding to the appropriate Army brand. The shade is the same as that on his cap. Also, the modern colored picture shows Lou wearing a lighter shade blue for the breeches. Two of the riders seem to have this too.

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Post by dimarcol » Tue Feb 26, 2002 10:24 am

Thanks webguy. Geocities definately has its limitations.

Lou D.

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