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Stovepipe Hut: 1938

Stovepipe Hut: 1938

October 1938. "Tent of migrant stove maker and repairer on U.S. 90 near Jeanerette, Louisiana." Photo by Russell Lee for the FSA. View full size.


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Well, maybe...

Most tin stoves I've used got cherry red on top but pretty cool on the bottom. Still, we spread sand just to be safe.

Tin Stove

More properly, a sheet-metal stove as opposed to a cast iron one. Calling sheet metal, especially thin sheet metal, "tin" is common in the South.

Tin stoves were used by people who moved around because they were relatively light weight. They don't last long because heat promotes corrosion. After a short time, perhaps less than a year, the corrosion would "eat through" around the firebox, and the stove had to be repaired or replaced. Stoves made of cast iron, either one piece or assembled from parts, are much heavier and harder to move, but can last a lifetime or longer with care.

And people were very conscious of the fire hazard, but didn't really have any good choices. They could either accept the hazard and try to take precautions, or do without heat or cooking. No 100-amp electric service on the pole in the RV camp in those days. It's a little surprising that this fellow, who presumably has a stock of sheet metal, doesn't have a metal plate under the stove -- that was common in houses with wood floors, and wealthier people had tile or masonry.

Rushes on floor

My grandmother, from Wilkes Barre PA who was born in 1881, used to tell us about putting down rushes on the floor in the summer. I've heard about it since then, but have never seen a picture of such a thing before. Seemed it was a way to keep the dirt down. As the green rushes dried, they replace them with fresh ones, at least that's what I recall of what she said about it. Does look like quite a fire hazard though!

Dangerous Combination

This is just a wild guess, but I think I'd be a bit leery of using fire in a straw-filled tent.

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