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Rest Stop: 1936

Rest Stop: 1936

July 1936. "Drought refugees from Bowman, North Dakota, in Montana." En route to Oregon or Washington. Medium-format nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.


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Shoes for girls, barefoot boys

Interesting to note that here we have a clear example of where the kids being barefoot is not an issue of poverty as we might have otherwise assumed. Seeing several barefoot boys in a cramped car in the Depression era would suggest parents too poor to provide shoes. But the fact that all the girls, even those younger than some of the boys, wear shoes proves that the boys are barefoot out of choice. Or perhaps because it was more socially acceptable or even expected for boys to run around that way but not for girls.

The 2-Door Sedan Pictured

is a 1927 Chevrolet Coach. The Coach was one of eight body styles available that year. It had a 171 cubic inch, overhead valve 4-cylinder engine and a 3-speed transmission. Chevrolet made just over 1,000,000 vehicles in 1927 and outsold Ford for the first time.

Meryl Streep lookalike

The oldest daughter looks like she was self-consciously reaching to take off her glasses before the photo was taken. (She also bears a striking resemblance to Meryl Streep.) She must have been miserable crammed in the back of that car with five younger siblings (assuming that the baby rode up front with Mama).

Wow, a family of nine.

Let us hope they did all right.

[Papa was evidently no idler. -Dave]

Seven kids in one car!

I agree with you OTY. The despair these people must have known in their lives. Seven mouths to feed and bodies to clothe. I can't imagine.

Is that a AAA Trip-Tik she's reading in the car? It sure looks like one.


This shot just makes me puddle up!

I'm Next!

I drank from one of those until 1953. Nice cold water. We always carried it out west from Texas to California and back. It was the only thing that was cool on our '38 Pontiac in the summer.

I wonder if he got to go to Disneyland when it opened in 1955? He seems to already be a fan of Mickey.

As if all this toil and trouble weren't enough

One of the triplets has managed to bust himself an arm. Big sister, I am sure, is quite a help to Mother, who comforts the most recent addition to the family while checking a map. That rear tire could use some air but I'm guessing that's the least of Dad's worries right now. And whoever told him Montana's the place to go must not have seen this particular spot.

Hanging water bags up front in the airflow helped lower their contents from hot to tepid, some times. Often it was useful to knock the dead bugs off before you drank, so some of them didn't join the water going into your mouth.

The Canvas water bag

works on the principle of evaporation. The bag is slightly porous and the evaporation of the water that comes through the bag cools the water. It's out on the radiator to get lots of air. And I assume as a side benefit the cooler air passing around the bag may help cool the radiator.

My Dad had one. Being born in 1889 I imagine he used them on trips. I believe the bag is still around in the house or garage somewhere. I'll have to look for it.


"I'm Bored"

Along with the words in my comment title, here are some of the things my four kids said on our cross-country auto trips 45+ years ago. "He's touching me." "There's nothing to do." "I'm thirsty." "I'm hungry." "I need to use the bathroom." "Mary keeps looking at me." "I'm too hot." "He's taking up the whole back seat." "Are we there yet?" That is just a small fraction of the crabbing, even though we had books, toys, little cars, games, crayons, snacks and cold drinks in an ice chest and we slept in motels at night. Here I see SEVEN kids, not a sign of a toy in sight, everyone looks exhausted, hungry and tired and their treat will be water rationed by Dad. We cannot even imagine the despair in the lives of these people but I bet there was not one single peep from anyone about their discontent, despite the lack of Gameboys, Hot Wheels, snack-paks, cold beverages, iPods, auto TVs, etc. What strong character they had, even the tiniest of the group, and we are so spoiled.

Water bag

To those of a certain age (like me), a familiar sight was what's sometimes called a "desert water bag" hanging in front of the radiator on passing cars. Here's a rare shot of one in actual use. I'd always assumed the water was strictly for the radiator, not human consumption.

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