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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

Long Pine, Nebraska Shoeshop

Long Pine, Nebraska Shoeshop

This is my great-grandfather John Crabtree, last seen in the Bonesteel photo. After living in several locations, John and Ida moved to Long Pine, Nebraska, where John had an up-to-date shoe repair shop from about 1912 to 1921. He then moved his equipment to his home, also in Long Pine.

Great-Grandpa had polio when he was around six (1861) that left his right leg paralyzed. The story is that John learned shoemaking so he could make specialty shoes to fit himself and others. In Long Pine (according to his daughter Myrtie), John was known for how perfectly he made shoes. Workmen on the Railroad (including the conductor) brought him shoes to work on from all along the line, because he did such good work. View full size.

Neat pairs

I love the way cobblers always keep shoes together in neat pairs (unless they're working on one or the other of the shoes, of course). Perhaps this would seem to be a no-brainer, since it's obvious the shoemaker would want to maintain order in his shop, but I still find it immensely comforting to see the shoes together and never all higgledy-piggledy the way you might find them in someone's foyer. Also, I can't help noticing the cracked plaster and exposed lath in the ceiling. There's a cool air that blows behind the lath, and my scaredy-cat imagination fears it as a portal to the creepy, hidden parts of a house. But I do understand that it would be difficult for a man with a paralyzed leg to fix something like that.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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