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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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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • JOIN THE NAVY, 1917

Weldon & Sleepy: 1942

Weldon & Sleepy: 1942

February 1942. Two members of the "Musical Drake Family," performing at a barn dance in the Farm Security Administration's Mercer G. Evans camp in Weslaco, Texas. Our pickers are brothers Weldon (1923-1977) and Jasper "Sleepy" Drake (1926-1992). More Drakes here, and you can read comments from their children and grandkids here. Photo by Arthur Rothstein. View full size.

 
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Mercer G. Evans

The camp was named after Mercer G. Evans, Director of Labor Relations during the Roosevelt administration. There's not a lot on Google about him, but there is a portrait of him on the FSA/OWI site:

Pickin' 'n' not grinning

Intriguing photo, and the links are well worth a look. Now I am on a mission to see whether I can find any recordings by the Drakes.

That guitar, a Broman Casa Loma f-hole, probably sounded great, as did the big-bodied 12-string played by Weldon in an earlier Shorpy photo. Probably made by Harmony or Regal in the 1930s.

Problem with those guitars is after many years of use or just from being under string tension for so long, the necks just go out of whack. I bought a similar one from the family of an Arkansas woman who played it on the radio in the '30s, and just couldn't get the neck to stay in place. After three resets, I gave up and sold it as a wall-hanger. But it sounded wonderful while it lasted!

 
SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE
Shorpy.com | 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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