Home sewing can be an isolating activity, but not if you take your work outside. I wonder what the woman on the left is doing. Darning? Hemming? Making a couture outfit by hand? Whatever it is, she has a friend to keep her company. Her companion has brought along a book to read when the seamstress is concentrating on her work.
The photo comes from Philadelphia, a city where I lived very happily in the mid-eighties while teaching at Temple University. The school is located in North Philadelphia in a neighborhood that looks very much like the one pictured here. Someone thoughtfully put in a bench that is raised up a little, making it more comfortable for older people to use.
There is no trace of seventies fashion in the older woman’s dress, a shirtwaist style that would have looked fine a decade before. Don’t you think she made it herself, cleverly planning out the interesting placement of stripes?