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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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American Picker: 1936

American Picker: 1936

July 1936. "Picking cherries. Yakima, Washington." Photo by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

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Why is this woman smiling?

When I was a kid I spent one day picking cherries at an orchard in Loveland, Colorado. I ended that day scratched, sticky and 35 cents richer. The only good thing was the mid-day meal, which included unpasteurized milk and homemade bread. This suburban boy might as well have been on another planet. Today it's a cherished memory.


Yakima is just down the road a piece from where I've lived all my life. When I was a kid my brothers and I would go into hysterics when TV ads for cheap junk told us to send our $1.95 ("cash only, no checks!") to Box 10, Yuh-kee-muh, Washington. It's actually pronounced Yak-ih-maw. Likewise, we could sometimes buy our cheap Like Seen on TV junk from an address in Spoh-cane Washington, instead of the real Spokane, pronounced Spoh-can. Washington State has some unusual place names, many of which get routinely mangled when spoken by non-natives. Puyallup and Sequim are probably the most mangled.

Khaki Linen

She is beautiful and very elegant in her khaki linen.

Classic three leg ladder

She's at the top of a 3 legged cherry picker ladder, favored for its stability on rough ground and the ability to wedge its way into brambles of branches. Have seen those up to at least 20 feet high. The basic principles of ladder safety are not being well observed here, but there's a lot of cherries to be picked and not much time to do it.

Still Picking

There are still some orchards in Yakima, though most are now in outlying areas. Most of the workers and increasingly orchard owners are of Mexican heritage. The wires in the background are probably there for hops to climb, not power lines.

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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