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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • HIS MASK KEEPS HIM ON THE JOB
 

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Hello, Internet: 1935

Hello, Internet: 1935

October 1935. Cotton picker in Pulaski County, Arkansas. View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by Ben Shahn for the Farm Security Administration.

 

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Lovely Woman!

Class personified. Stylish woman with beautiful skin and great clothes. Looking good!

Beautiful Woman

Have to agree, very beautiful indeed.

Pulaski Cotton Picker

Oh the stories my grandmother can tell about growing up in the Cane River area of Natchitoches parish in Louisiana. She lived a rural life with no indoor plumbing, no electric or gas appliances, and no easy access to a doctor.

According to her cotton was a horrible crop to harvest. The boll is thorny and rips up your hands. Cotton harvesters were paid by the pound - cotton being fairly light, you have to pick a lot of it to make some money. She told me that they would pack a sack with dry cotton at the bottom and top - with the middle soaking wet to increase the weight (but not soak through the bag).

Cotton aside, she talks fondly about her dad's pecan grove, a mysterious fruit called a "ze-ze" that she said she has never seen outside of Cane River, and the rituals around butchering a steer, pig, or goat on special days. She was poor, but happy and never hungry.

These are wonderful stories for me - I'm a city born and raised man here in Los Angeles. The photo illustrates much of what she has tried to convey. Thanks again Dave.

This is a beautiful woman!

This is a beautiful woman!

Pulaski Cotton Picker

Thanks Dave for your wonderful blog. This is a great photo. My grandmother has many stories of picking cotton as a child - this helps to visualize it.

[You're welcome. For a fieldworker, this lady has class. Stylish hat, regal bearing. God knows what she thought of Ben Shahn and his funny little camera. So what did your grandma have to say about working in cotton? - Dave]

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