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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Inflationary Pressure: 1936

Inflationary Pressure: 1936

September 1938. "Inflating bicycle tire in Abbeville, Louisiana." 35mm nitrate negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

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My first thought .... riding the bike barefoot seems like it would've really been painful on his tootsies.


I had a bike like this in the 40s and I was a lot scrawnier than this kid. I have lived in the far east and have seen bikes like this carry 3-4 people and very, very other heavy cumbersome loads that you would not believe, but are posted on YouTube, and elsewhere on the internet.

This bicycle was used to carry heavy loads.

Note the reinforcing bar on the handlebars. Used to see the same thing on freight-carrying bicycles in Korea many years ago.


He's trying to inflate using a gas station air pump -- usually a bad idea because the pump's pressure is not what the tube is expecting. Done all the time, but not the best choice.

And one has to wonder why he appears to inflating a tire without repairing the puncture: that tire didn't get that flat just from neglect.

Oh well...we don't know the background, but one wonders how it worked out for this kid.

First some air

And then a clothespin and a playing card. For real power, go with two clothespins and cards.

Look at the bright side

It's only flat on the bottom. (As my buddy would always say)

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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