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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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Dry Goods: 1936

Dry Goods: 1936

July 1936. "J. Huffman of Grassy Butte, North Dakota, has been forced to close his general store on account of the drought." Medium-format nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.

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Dry Goods: 1936

John Paul Huffman was born in 1878 and died in 1965. Four years after this photo was taken, Mr. Huffman no longer owned the store. According to the 1940 census, he lived in the neighboring town of Rhoades and worked as a clerk in a retail store. I have located two of his granddaughters, and I plan to call them soon.

Super Ball

Peeking over the roof line is a Super Ball Radio Antenna.

O & G?

I fiddled with this wonderful image in Photoshop and I think I see tracess of faded letters, in a different color, that show the sign to have originally been Oil & Gas.

I won't swear to this, and I wish I could see a pump to back up my theory.



I don't think it's an O at all. If you look at the bottom, it looks like the top half of an 8. But even with that, it remains a mystery.

Faded letters

I can't help but think that the "O" and the "G" on the building were the first letters of something; but what? The word "Gen" (as in "General") has almost completely faded away from "Gen M'dse", so it's tempting to think that other letters--perhaps in the same less-than-weatherproof paint--once followed the "O" and the "G". I can't imagine what it might have said, though.

Signed work

Looks like Speedy signed and dated his work for the J. Huffman Merchandise sign -- 8/29/29 I think. Wonder what the O and G are for?

[Looks like 8/29/27 for the sign and 9/17/32 for the windows. - tterrace]

Nothing left?

Maybe not in Montana, but in Grassy Butte, North Dakota...

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But the picture's of the ND Grassy Butte

Grassy Butte, North Dakota is still there. It has a bar (the Long X Saloon), a community center, a post office, a Standard service station (Beicegel Station, probably also a convenience store), a fairly large church, and what look like several other businesses, and even some trees. Pretty much all the necessities of life, except maybe high speed Internet service.

Across the street from Robert Evans, I guess

Three or more general stores in the same tiny town. During the Depression, no less. Maybe he was across the road from Robert Evans, with the bare light bulb dangling over the gas pump.

I love the sign painter's signature. You can still see this kind of work in Mexico, and maybe a few towns north of the border. In the unlikely event that these clapboards survived into the late '80s, I'd be amazed if they didn't end up on the wall of a frontage road chain restaurant (I don't know which one, as I try to avoid them). Next door, no doubt, to the Wal-Mart, which eventually finished off those colorful family-owned stores that survived the Depression.

Nothing left

of Grassy Butte Montana except a radio tower.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | 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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