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Nitro Express: 1939

Nitro Express: 1939

October 1939. "Post office in the general store. Lamoille, Iowa." Let's see now. Stamps, ammo, and a case of Iten-Barmettler, please! Medium format negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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They must be brothers

The postmaster and the coffee grinder in this:
Sure look as if they could be brothers.

[They are the same person. -tterrace]

[In the same store. - Dave]

Desperado: 1898-1942

A thumbnail sketch of Irving Charles Chapman, seen on the Wanted poster at lower right, from

Irving Charles Chapman was born on December 29, 1898 in Philadelphia, Mississippi. During the stock market crash in the late 1920s, he lost all of his fortune, and decided to be a criminal instead. He began a series of kidnappings and bank heists in Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. He began his criminal ways with a few minor arrests in Florida and New Jersey, before embarking on a decade-long career as a gangster.

In 1932 he was sentenced to serve 9 to 14 years for a Miden, Louisiana, bank robbery. However, he and two others escaped from the Caddo Parish jail at Shreveport on December 5, 1932, by lowering themselves from their eighth-floor cell with a rope made from whatever they could find. Captured in 1934, he was wounded in a gunbattle with police and sentenced to 15 years for a bank robbery in Mississippi. He was turned over to Arkansas, where he received another 15-year term for another bank heist. He escaped from the Tucker Prison (some reports say he escaped from a Little Rock prison) on August 25, 1936, using a pistol taken from the warden's office.

Chapman then robbed the First National bank of Atlanta, Texas (twice). He was captured after the second robbery and given a 60-year prison term. He was sent to Eastham Prison Farm, the same one Clyde Barrow was once imprisoned at. He along with infamous Oklahoma bandit Pete Traxler, as well as six others, escaped on June 22, 1937. All were captured or killed except Chapman.

In 1939, he shot his way out of a police trap near his home town in Mississippi. In January 1942, he shot Patrolman Ralph McNair at Meridian and escaped. Finally, on February 22, 1942, he drove away from his residence and right into a roadblock. He was shot, and before dying told the police, "Go ahead and shoot, you bastards!"

They didn't have to, as he succumbed to his wounds. He was buried at the Sandtown Cemetery at Sandtown, Mississippi. So ended the career of this famous outlaw!

It has an age

That Eclipse #218 "Frost Killer" stove predates 1920, the year that the Tappan family of Mansfield, Ohio, changed the name of their stove company from Eclipse to Tappan.

I'm undecided about whether the storekeeper is burning coal or wood (it could use either), but I am fairly certain that the stains below the firebox door are evidence of sitters-and-spitters-and-whittlers getting cranked up for the winter.

And the case of Iten Barmettler? It's either crackers or cookies, both of which the Iten Barmettler Biscuit Company of Omaha made for years.

The Wanted Poster

Click to enlarge.



Sam Drucker Seal of Approval

While looking a little beat down in the photo, a nice condition Eclipse/Tappen "Frost Killer" stove today at auction might go for around $2,000+. Whether ol' No. 218 is still in the mix somewhere, who knows?

Different country, different decade

But kind of reminds me of may preschool days when my grandma gave us a little change in order to run down to the neighbourhood grocery shop and have a Kaiser roll filled with a whippet cookie. Yummy.

Alas, no more neighbourhood grocery stores. No more running down the street on one's own for a preschooler. And a white flour wheat product filled with foamed sugar and fat? That's just sooo nutritionally incorrect.

Real P.O.

Would not be an official Post Office if it did not have that wanted poster.

Frost Killer indeed!

I'll bet 'ol man Winter didn't dare get close to that No. 218!

For the same reason you can't at home.

Or maybe Mom has other reasons why you can't spit on the floor. In any case, the sign helpfully offers one explanation. I can think of others, if you need more reasons to refrain.

Love that kid's overalls

Wish I could find some like that today.

Everything's up to date in LaMoille

Social Security was so new, they needed a poster explaining that they wanted to hand out money. (My grandfather's Social Security card, which was issued around this time, had a short explanation on the back, too, and gave an address in Washington where you could write for more information. My father's card, issued in the 1950s, had a different, but still relatively friendly, explanation, of how to use it. Mine is full of dire warnings about improper use.)

You can also send mail on an AIRPLANE for only 3 cents!

Not only that, but you can send insured parcel post packages to France, Italy, and Japan, and registered parcel post packages to Germany! (Limited time offer.)

Bullet Points

Look at that Remington poster with the boy and his Indian chief metal silhouette! I've tried to do just that, but only have luck with a punch and hammer.

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