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Cozy Shack: 1951

Cozy Shack: 1951

Columbus, Georgia. "Housing 1-18-51." First in a series from the News Archive showing slums supposedly in need of clearance. 4x5 negative. View full size.


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A spittin' and a scratchin'?

The first thing the can on the floor reminded me of was a makeshift spittoon, just like the large Folger's can my grandfather kept on the floor near his stove in which to deposit his Day's Work tobacco remnants. I would say that an elderly southern lady who imbibed in chewing tobacco was probably not all that unusual at the time. I also noticed that she has a stick or hanger wired stuck up inside the cast on her arm, no doubt to relieve the inevitable itching.

Reminds me of someone...

This lady and her home reminds me of one of my great-aunts and the house she lived in. Born in 1905 into a poor farming family, and married a farmer who had to make their living through the Great Depression years. By the time I was a youngster in the 1980's, she was still living in the same home, with worn furniture and fixtures, and religious paintings and family photos in old frames that hung away from the wall a little. She was thrifty; she would wear clothes until they were threads and if anything could be fixed, she would fix it (or have it fixed). No waste for her! I always was intrigued by her home, and of course even though it was old, it was CLEAN. Sure, it could have used a coat of paint here or a new board there, but still as clean as a whistle. And I can remember her making a big breakfast in old-school cast iron skillets that she probably had her entire life. Poor but happy and sweet!

I noticed she still hangs a portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt...obviously someone who appreciated the New Deal during the 30's.

Snowdrift and the space heater

The Snowdrift can likely holds water for replenishing the pan on top of the space heater. Without this early day humidifier the house would be very dry and cause skin and dry throat problems. The heater itself is a piece that would call out a hazmat team today. The white fluffy material above the burner is asbestos. When in use the asbestos would glow in various colors as the temperature varied.


She's hurt her hand. Perhaps she scalded her hand spilling water from the top of the heater. My grandmother (born 1902) used to keep water on the heater to increase humidity.


Trying to make out what's in that can by the gas heater, but zooming in blurs the words. Anyone know what it is? At first I thought it was lard, but that's "Snowcap", not "Snowdrop". ;-)

[Snowdrift shortening - "It's emulsified" -tterrace]

Flower linoleum

I had aunts and uncles with that same painted linoleum on their floors. Mississippi, 1960s. And every sitting room had at least one rocker!

Looks homey

This looks a lot like my Grandmother's house on the Monarch Mill Hill in SC. Lovingly maintained and still standing after nearly 100 years.

Making Do

A lovely photo of a woman who is grateful for what she has. After raising a family during the Depression, she probably feels cause for gratitude. There certainly are lots of chairs. Visitors welcome.

Lawyers' Lane?

If that's the street this place was on, I may have rented it for a few months in 1965. While I was enjoying the salubrious outdoor activities of the Infantry School's Ranger and airborne courses, my then wife was ensconced in a place very like this, down to the bead board walls (though minus the calendars and furniture), enduring the lack of air conditioning and the hordes of cockroaches -- excuse me, June bugs.

Municipal projects in the South in the last century often followed a deliberative, even leisurely, schedule, so it's quite possible that such places, though long viewed as something substandard to be replaced, would have continued to exist in that state for several decades after they had first been considered for demolition.

I suspect, however, that by the mid-60s, the lady pictured had taken up residence in her cabin in the sky.

All those 1951 calendars

Bright, decorative and most importantly free, I can see how a householder of modest means might want more than one of them hanging on her walls. When I was in college in the 1960s, I had posters depicting all the visiting rock bands and surfing movies hanging on my San Diego apartment's walls for much the same reasons. We always got them free at the local head shops and coffee houses; I may still have a few of them rolled up on the closet shelf.

Alternate title

Calendar Girl

Slum clearance is old-fashioned

That's why it's called urban renewal nowadays.

In China there is a community that has lived in caves on the side of a hill for generations. Instead of moving the people into "modern" housing, the government modernized the caves with electricity. I thought it was smart but the story was written with a tone of ridicule.

Where Do I Go?

What we see here is the American Spirit. A smiling Senior, apparently happy in her home, proud of her (I'm guessing) son who served. The Government considered her home a slum, but what's the alternative?

What month is it?

Interesting that she has four calendars hanging behind her, all showing February 1951.

Clean & Neat

You could probably eat off this lady's floors. She's proud of her small home and her son serving in Korea.

A woman ahead of her time

The caption says it's January, but all four calendars say February.

[Not everyone can afford all 12 months. - Dave]


Starbucks needs this land for Gentrification.

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