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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • RAINIER NATIONAL PARK: c. 1920s

Chef's Table: 1951

Chef's Table: 1951

Columbus, Georgia. "Housing 1-18-51." If this lady's five calendars are any guide, the caption is a month off. 4x5 acetate negative. View full size.

 

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Gratitude

A lovely photograph of a woman appreciative of the life she has. Her left hand looks like it's bandaged. I love the china cabinet behind her with the shelf paper and what looks like some depression glass. The iron seems incongruously placed close by her glasses and patent medicines. But that's the joy of living alone--you can arrange things anyway you like.

The nail by the door

Having grown up in Columbus, I've been in many homes like this in the past. Many elderly folks had a nail by the door that hung important documents like fire insurance policies, that they could grab in a hurry as they escaped a burning home. Many of the mill houses and shotgun shacks were made of heart pine from the Georgia countryside and would burn down in a matter of minutes.

Prepare for a fire

That overhead light fixture is supplying power to the hotplate, hungry tube type radio, and lamp. Those extension cords must get red hot.

Unbowed by life

Living the last years of her life, apparently alone in a one room, tidy shanty, without the benefit of indoor plumbing, this woman represents a past generation. A generation that experienced two world wars and a great depression. A generation that experienced the introduction of electricity and the replacement of horsepower by the gasoline engine. A generation, whose parents probably experienced the Civil War -- certainly its aftermath.

She seems unbowed by it all; able to be cheerful, perhaps grateful for the photographer's company. Her contact with the outside world may be limited to the radio. Her past and her future are one and the same at this point -- but she still has a beautiful smile, wrinkles and all.

Time after time

Someone, I think it was William Least Heat Moon in "Blue Highways," made the observation that the more calendars in a mom and pop cafe, the better the food. With that endorsement, I wouldn't have minded trying what was in that frying pan.

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