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Pie Town Sitdown: 1940

Pie Town Sitdown: 1940

The Faro Caudill family eating dinner in their dugout, Pie Town, New Mexico. October 1940. 35mm Kodachrome transparency by Russell Lee. View full size.


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Shirt pocket

Is that a pack of Camels in Dad's shirt pocket? Or maybe a plug of chewing tobacco? I magnified to 300, but can't tell what I see.

[Detail from the full-size scan. -tterrace]

Faro Caudill

Faro's life dates, according to the Social Security Death Index: Born June 18, 1908, died June 1976 in Albuquerque.


This harks back to a simpler time, when "time with the family" was just that.

We've lost so much.

Nail polish, etc.

Yep, that family is spruced up for photos. I love the little girl's hair with the ribbon! Moms got a fresh dress and apron. Boy's clothes clean, hair brushed nicely. But perhaps Dad didn't want anything to do with this, or just came in from the fields. Dad got his piece of pie early, kids probably had to wait til finished eatinc.

That's linoleum on the table. The old standby that covered nearly everything in the 30s.

Milk Jar

I was just remembering the other day about how we kept our milk in the fridge in a big glass jar like this one. Dad would milk and bring it in--we'd strain it and put it in the jars. Later we skimmed off the cream that had risen to the top to make butter or just stirred it back in before we poured out what we drank or used on our cereal.

Karo Syrup

It's high fructose corn syrup, not quite as thick as golden syrup.

American food

Karo syrup is corn syrup- very very sweet. Probably something like Tate & Lyle, it too is golden in color.

I have never heard of a pikelet, but biscuits here are related to scones. They are a quickbread, made with flour, shortening, and baking powder, very flaky. Sort of like pie crust, but heavier. They are not sweet by themselves, but usually served with butter and jam or honey (or Karo syrup, perhaps!)


Forgive an englishman's ignorance, but what was Karo syrup - anything like our Tate & Lyle golden syrup (very sweet). Also the biscuits look terribly like what I would call scones or even pikelets - as you know a biscuit over here would be a cookie to you!

"You know you're doomed to

"You know you're doomed to be a domestic housewife in Pie Town 1940 when your whole right hand just gradually morphs into a big plate of biscuits." -Anon Tip.

This is the best!!!

Pie Town Sitdown 1940

I like the Karo syrup bucket that seems to be holding up the platter of biscuits..The syrup and hot biscuits are better than anything that you can find on 98% of household tables today...

Nail polish was much cheaper than that

Back then it was something like twenty cents. Nowadays even the stuff at the loonie/dollar store costs more than $1, and it's so thin you'd need ten coats to cover.

nail polish

you can bet that they had that polish on because of the visiting photographer. Maybe also wore it to church or the small bottle would last the two of them for a year or two.

Also, no electricity or running water.. think how hard it was to make that meal and clean up afterwards...we are sure spoiled today.

re: Yum

My father grew up in the Depression (born in 1920) -- though he seldom speaks about it (he's 86-years old and going strong, thankfully), I can remember him say how his father would give him three or four shotgun shells and telling him that if his hunt was unsuccessful, they would have no meat for supper...


Beans and biscuits look tasty. Karo syrup? Is that for the biscuits?

In response to the "meat" comment, no they weren't vegans. Fresh meat wasn't readily available, as it is today. It wasn't as simple as going to Kroger and picking up a pack of steaks. According to my father, meat was a matter of the store having any, not neccesarily if you could afford it.

nail polish is normal

Nail polish costs about a dollar. Quite possibly, it was the only luxury item they could afford.

Cracker Barrel

Me too! I guess back then this was a fairly "meager" meal but now it's nostalgic and people pay a fair amount for it at Cracker Barrel because so few people are cooking like this at home. Still don't know if i would call it the "good ole days" though.


don't see any meat .. vegans

The eventualities of Pie Town

You know you're doomed to be a domestic housewife in Pie Town 1940 when your whole right hand just gradually morphs into a big plate of biscuits.

I know this is going to sound stupid...

...but this pic makes me hungry for Cracker Barrel.
I am not kidding.

Nail polish

They had a car, so they could probably afford nail polish. The Pie Towners were all homesteaders. Most of them lived in dugouts with sod roofs. No electricity or running water. Near the end of her life Doris Caudill (the mom) remarked that she'd do it all over again if she had the chance, except she'd like hot and cold running water.

Nail polish

It's odd to see the two women wearing nail polish in this photo. They look to be too poor to afford that sort of luxury. But then again, maybe it's food coloring or something.

You can taste the butter in

You can taste the butter in those biscuits.

Bandaged thumb

Dad seems to have injured the thumb on his left hand.

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