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May Avenue Camp: 1939

May Avenue Camp: 1939

July 1939. Oklahoma City. "Shacks, tents, other makeshift shelter in May Avenue camp, which is partially under bridge and adjacent to city dump and hog wallow. Photographs show squalor, filth and vermin in which poverty-stricken inhabitants dwell. Water supplied by shallow wells and water peddler. Piles of rubbish and debris in which children and adults have injured feet. Privies. Families eating food from vegetable dumps, packinghouses and discarded from hospital. Children clothed in gunny sacks. Malnourished babies. Sick people. Cooking, washing, ironing, patching. Improvised chicken coop. Corn patch." Medium format negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Ask the man who owns one

That was Packard's tagline, not Buick's, but imagine being able to walk up to the then-current owner of that car and ask.

Or ask the owner of a 2004 Buick today. You think he or she is the original owner? Let's not forget that modern cars last much longer.

No, the original purchase price of a fourteen-year-old car parked under a bridge in 1939 means nothing. Look at this woman's clothes. They tell the story the 1925 Buick only pretends to conjure.

Wouldn't you really rather have

a Buick? Well, this gent does. Clearly this is a man who once had money, given his car is a 1925 Buick Master 6 Touring Sedan and was a quality, up-market car in its day. Now, 14 years later, the crash has come and gone, leaving him with his one friend and grand possession, his lovely old Buick, which lives on to remind him of his prior glory. Now he's buying oil by the gallon, and not very good oil either, so his poor 6-cylinder is likely suffering from worn piston rings and using oil at a rapid pace. I do wonder, what's become of the man and his Buick?

[This is the kind of car Okies bought for next to nothing during the Depression and then drove out to California. - Dave]

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