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Family Cart: 1937

Family Cart: 1937

April 1937. "Scene in Shawneetown, Illinois." Medium format nitrate negative by Russell Lee for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.


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Mule haircut

The coats of working mules/horses are clipped or shaved as a thick coat that is sweaty can take a long time to dry out.

Barber, barber

Hate to ask, but is that mule sporting a shave? And why is it that someone chooses to shave their... mule?

On the Bandwagon

A very picturesque merry gathering, whatever the unfortunate circumstances might have been!


In 1962, when I was a student at Southern Illinois University, just a short drive from there, I discovered that the dive bar behind the brick wall at the right edge of the photo was very lax regarding ID. Accoprdingly I and my girl friend would go there to listen to the jukebox and guzzle beer.

One night, as we were necking in the front seat of her car in a parking space in front of the bar, a short fireplug of a man staggered out of the dive in a cloud of stale cigarette smoke and alcohol fumes and straddled a Harley Electro-Glide. His wife and three kids followed him and clambered on the bike too! The whole mob then motored off into the darkness of the hot and humid night.

I've often wondered what happened to them.

Shawneetown Bank

The Shawneetown Bank is a splendid example of Greek Revival architecture. Built 1839-1841, its architect is unknown, which is a great shame; it is a very skillful adaptation of the Greek/Roman temple model used for so many different types of buildings during this period. The detailing of the exterior is so good that one can easily overlook the colossal "mistake" in its design - the facade has five Greek Doric columns, breaking the solemn but unwritten rule that Classical facades must always have an even number of columns, not an odd number. Whoever designed it knew exactly what he was doing.

Last days of Old Shawneetown

This photo is after the great Ohio River flood of Jan.-Feb. 1937. These folks might be down to pick up what they can to the old home before being resettled in New Shawneetown, up on the bluff above the river. My mother, who was 7 at the time and living in similarly flooded Harrisburg IL, used to recall riding a similar mule-drawn wagon up into the Shawnee hills after the flood to stay with relatives in Rudement.

After 1937 Ohio River Flood

Shawneetown was devastated by the Ohio River Flood of January/February 1937. Apparently, the Resettlement Administration was documenting the aftermath. After the flood, the town moved west, away from the river. The area in the photograph is now "Old Shawneetown" with the old Shawneetown Bank, now a historic site, in the background on the corner of Main and Old Shawneetown Road.

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