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Granville County: 1939

Granville County: 1939

July 1939. Tenant farmers and tobacco barn in Granville County, North Carolina. View full size. Medium-format nitrate negative by Dorothea Lange.


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Tobacco Barn

Interesting - note the tobacco leaves strewn around in front of the barn door. Also notice the small size of the barn door - the better to keep the heat in during curing...same with the mud caulking between the's not there to keep the cold out of the barn - but to keep the heat in. The sticks resting on the door and the one under the man's arm were used for hanging the tobacco leaves up in the rafters of the curing barn...which this obviously is. The boy has a string in his mouth which is most likely from a spool used to tie the "hands" of tobacco to the sticks. The tobacco would be bunched and tied into hands then strung onto the sticks. The sticks would then be passed up by the crew and placed in the many rafters up in the barn. The boy's job most likely would have been to be the one that climbed up to the upper part of the barn - receiving the sticks strung with tobacco and placing then in the rafters to cure by gas fire set on the floor underneath.

[Thanks for the info, Bowwow. Very interesting. These curing barns were old-school, fueled by wood fires instead of gas. Below: "Piles of wood for firing the tobacco barns and curing the tobacco." The wood is fed through small openings at the base of the barn. - Dave]

Never throw away what is still useful

Notice the horizontal boards to the right of the door; many of the black spots appear to be old nail holes from some previous use the boards had. Often even the nails would be straightened and reused. I remember doing that with my dad, decades ago when things were harder to come by, at least for us. I've never outgrown that attitude but few people I know still hold it.

[The dark spots are rust from the nails, which are still there. But yes, waste not, want not. - Dave]

Tobacco barn

Those sticks propped up against the barn were used for tying tobacco leaves for curing in the barn. Today, when they are found, they are often turned into walking sticks.

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