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Running on Empty: 1936

Running on Empty: 1936

April 1936. "Grocery store in Widtsoe, Utah. FSA land use project purchase area and clients who will be removed to more desirable section." Medium format negative by Dorothea Lange for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.


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Truck ID

1929 Ford model AA. This is a Feb.-mid year type. Ford dropped rear fenders on stake bodies mid-year 1929. These disc wheels first appeared Feb.1929.

Lots of money - today

Unbeknownst to the owners at the time, todays value - only 80 years after the photo was taken - of the signage and gas pump alone would be worth more than that small mercantile could make in 20 years probably.

Ghost farms for a ghost town

The outlines of the old farms next to the town can still be made out on Google Earth 80 years later. Some new circular irrigated farms have cropped up a few miles north.

Philadelphia, maybe

I wonder what could be more desirable than living in Widtsoe?

What we DO know

We know they had Prince Albert in a can and that they accepted (or gave away) some type of "coupons" although I cannot read that sign on the support beam on the left side of the porch. We know they had bread and butter lunches and Texaco gas. Wouldn't you like to be able to go inside and see what kinds of 1936 mercantiles they had available? The depression was hitting hard that year. This scene looks very cold and desolate, even though it was April. This is about the only Shorpy convenience store picture I can recall that didn't have a "Coca Cola" sign, not that it would be appealing or affordable on this dark and stark day. I wonder if the owner lived upstairs on the premises as so many did then. Not what I would call a pretty picture, in fact it is pretty dreary, but very thought-provoking.

Moving Day

The beginning of the end of Widtsoe, Utah, November 22, 1935.

On Location

They could have shot "Tremors" here.

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