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Over a Barrel: 1928

Over a Barrel: 1928

Fredericksburg, Va., circa 1928. "Warehouse, Hoop-Pole Factory, 307-13 Sophia Street." 8x10 acetate negative by Frances Benjamin Johnston. View full size.


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Hoop poles

According to the dictionary, a hoop pole is: a straight slender length of green sapling wood usually of hickory or white oak that was formerly used as stock for barrel hoop.

Lost in Time in Fredericksburg

Just spent several hours in the Shorpy Vortex, where curiosity can kill the good part of a day.

Wondering what this ramshackle scene looks like today (narrow grassy field leading to the Rappahannock River), I had Google "drive" me right next door to 401-403 Sophia Street and an 1843 white antebellum duplex. This home was just yards from the boys and their barrel. But Street View hasn't been upgraded since divided local furor led to, and also didn't prevent, the demolition of the building in 2015. The structure was the last one standing in a noted Civil War photo.

Spokeo revealed the home's most recent resident's name which led to a new search - and a 1998 "Free Lance-Star" newspaper article about that resident's ongoing battle with human filth and sex acts just a few feet away. He described the spot as the "only nasty area on the whole river".

Right next to that article was a heartbreaking local story about wife v. family's (probably famed) legal travails over removing the feeding tube of an injured TV news anchor. I totally got caught up in taking that fork in history's road.

This entire journey had nothing to do with the boys and their barrel, but everything to do with the wonders of Shorpy and where pondering over a simple picture can lead.

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