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Maynardville Men: 1935

Maynardville Men: 1935

October 1935. Men of Maynardville, Tennessee. View full size. 35mm nitrate negative. Photograph by Ben Shahn for the Farm Security Administration.


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The Maynardville look

I live in Maynardville, and I'm telling you this is how half the folks around here look now. With the exception of different hat styles and no frock coats.

There was plenty of work here in the 1930s from farming, plus the TVA was keeping lots of them working on Norris Dam, or in local quarries supplying it.

About the time all of the dam work dried up (no pun), work started in nearby Oak Ridge. So, no, they ain't hungry, they just have the look of that era.

I have seen lots of photos from that time that were in color, which gives a totally different impression. Less bleak or stark and gloomy.

Tom Joad by any other name

The man at the front is the character portrayed by Henry Fonda in "The Grapes Of Wrsth" He is oh so real to the time and place.


Sometimes i wonder if we equate "gaunt and hungry" with "proper body weight"

These men worked for a living. They exercised, and it wasn't at Spin Class. If we didn't sit behind a desk all day, and instead went out at sunrise to work the fields, and then returned at sunset, more of us would look that way.

We may yet see these faces

We may yet see these faces again. Trillions of debt and such.

'not really there look'

This is before every person on the street was well-versed in hamming it up for a camera. These men live in world that's pretty removed from the hypermediated one we know. People comfortable being people rather than characters in some imagined soap opera/sitcom/reality show.

Re: Hunger...

Not so sure they're hungry so much as they *work* for a living. It's hard to relate now that most of us work an 8-hour day (if that) in comfortable air conditioning, ergo-chairs, and safety that we're really FAT compared to people of this era.

The poster is correct about tidy vs poor though: one of those farmers is wearing a suit jacket over his overalls. I see so many young people now with such poor grooming habits, unkempt beards and of course the classical hip-hop jeans - heheh.

Dallas, Texas


that man who is looking into the camera seems to really LOOK at you. kind of longing. really engaging and sort of haunting. i wish i could know this man.

The pride they had

The clothes are all worn and threadbare. However all are clean and pressed and neat. However the thing that gets me is the "not really here" look on all the faces.


Look at those gaunt faces; hunger stalks these men.
Denny Gill
Chugiak, Alaska

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