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Country Kitchen: 1938

Country Kitchen: 1938

1938. "Tolland County, Connecticut. The kitchen on the Schneider farm." Acetate negative by Sheldon Dick for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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They had hot water heat

as evidenced by the good-sized radiator just behind the stove. I like the little bleeder key hanging above the radiator. I also like the hand-operated hair clippers on the shelf next to the door. Probably for those last-minute hairdo touchups before a night on the town!

I've come a long way, baby!

I will only be 70 next July, but it amazes me what has transpired in my lifetime: From people in the country living with dirt floors and fairly recent electricity thanks to rural electric cooperatives, to this picture, which could have been my grandmother's kitchen as late as 1959, to stainless steel smart appliances and granite countertops.

I note with nostalgia the hole worn in the oilcloth tablecloth, probably from years of farm overalls rubbing against it as they rounded the tight corner on their way to the backdoor and the fields.

Noted also is the dropped ceiling -- very popular when trying to heat with a wood stove a drafty Victorian house, by closing off original 15-foot ceilings. I remember the hot water tank behind the stove from whence it gets heat.

[That's a coal stove. - Dave]

The Bloom Is Off the Rose

The floral linoleum looks like a trampled garden.


"A fly on the wall is what I'd love to be", said one fly on the flypaper to another fly on the flypaper.

Familar curtains

We had very similar curtains in the kitchen of my childhood in the 1950s, and the sink is identical.

Flypaper - it still works!

I once worked in the corner of a building, that for whatever reason, had a bumper crop of flies every fall. This was in the 1980s, at the HQ building of a major manufacturer of minicomputers.

I bought some flypaper, hung it from the suspended ceiling, cured one problem, and created another.

Management was less than pleased. By the time they complained, however, the problem flies were all stuck to the paper and the problem was solved until the next fall, when a whole new crop of management had appeared. My immediate superior understood the issue and told me so.


The ghost curtains and chair are interesting. Did the photographer fail to advance the film correctly, so that a part of a frame was double-exposed? If the camera had been moved during exposure wouldn't all the items in the frame be blurred?

[This is a flash exposure on sheet film; there are no frames to advance as in roll film. The ghost image in this inadvertent double exposure is what the camera saw without the flash -- only the brightest parts of the room. - Dave]

Of Pressing Need

Looks like the woman of the house is getting ready to do some ironing today. Those two "sad" irons warming up on the stove will be at the ready. The "Glenwood K" coal stove must have been a real workhorse in this house. Together with that gigantic steam radiator, the kitchen must've been warm as toast on a cold winter's day.


Yep, my dog does that to the tablecloth, too.


I see the family ghost brought her own chair. Also note the clever metal covers for the laundry sink to get counter space.

Soapstone Laundry Sink

I've been around since 1949 and have seen many of those double basin soapstone sinks used for many different purposes. I can't recall ever seeing those nice porcelain topped inserts anywhere else until today.

It's a really great addition. I can't believe it wasn't more popular.

1930s kitchen staples

Oxydol detergent and Fly paper strips.


There’s a wide range of oxy- products out there that I like very much. It’s the hydrogen peroxide that does the scrubbing chemically.

Help me! Help me!

My eyes were immediately drawn to the fly strip generously populated with several of their buzziness friends lying in repose on the kitchen table.

The obviously worn corners of the tablecloth are no matter when etymologists come to dine like Robert's fly eating girlfriend in Everybody Loves Raymond.

[Etymologists dine on words. The entomologists get the flies. - Dave]

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