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Pie Town Homesteaders: 1940

Pie Town Homesteaders: 1940

September 1940. Jack Whinery, Pie Town, New Mexico, homesteader, with his wife and the youngest of his five children in their dirt-floor dugout home. Whinery homesteaded with no cash less than a year ago and does not have much equipment; consequently he and his family farm the slow, hard way, by hand. Main window of their dugout was made from the windshield of the worn-out car which brought this family to Pie Town from West Texas. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Russell Lee, Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Going back to Pie Town

I Google Mapped Pie Town and zoomed in on the streets. You can also "stand" on the hiway there as well. You can also go to Pietown's own website and see a few photos.

Would like to know where his dugout house was and what happened to it.

My brother said something profound about all these pictures. He's only in his forties, but he said, "I wasn't even alive and I miss this stuff."

I think of these photos as true Americans. I miss it too, and I want it back!


Hellooooooo handsome!

I'm getting a time machine and moving to Pie Town.

Modern media?

If a freelance photographer went to take pictures of a family in these circumstances today he wouldn't likely be able to sell the photos, because no newspaper would be interested in publishing them. If he had a good shot of Lindsay Lohan, he could make $400,000 at bare minimum.

So why again would he waste his time taking pictures of these people?

[Russell Lee wasn't freelance. He was employed by the Farm Security Administration. - Dave]


A sense of dignity is shown by this family. I think today's news media would tell them to "look defeated/miserable" before taking the photo.


Kodachrome has such a richness and vibrancy, eh? This photo makes it seem like we're standing at the photographer's right shoulder, looking on, feeling the Whinery's discomfort in what must have been a very small space. Sixty-seven years on, and we're right there. Thanks Mr. Lee.
Denny Gill
Chugiak, Alaska

More on Pie Town

Loudon The Second?

Something about this guy's face reminds me of Loudon Wainwright III

Love the color

Every time I look at one of these photos from the 40s, with that deep, rich color, I think we must have entered a color "dark age" of sorts in the 60s, 70s and 80s...

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