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Anomie Farm: 1941

Anomie Farm: 1941

August 1941. "The family of Mr. Dan Sampson, father of 11 children. The Sampsons are moving out of their small unproductive farm in the Pine Camp expansion area to a 240-acre dairy farm in South Rutland, N.Y., obtained through the New York Defense Relocation Corporation. Near Sterlingville, New York." Acetate negative by Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

 

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Something is Not Rotten in New York

Not so sure the deer head is rotting. There is something hanging from the deer's right-side antler that makes it look like the right ear is rotting. But it seems the "rot" is really what's hanging. Could be a bottle brush (after all, it is/was a dairy farm).

And flies in August on an upstate NY dairy farm isn't too surprising, especially in a farmhouse without air conditioning.

Stone Cold Gangsta

Boy in the foreground seems to be doing something boys his age have been known to do; photobombing this event with a finger gesture (making the "Anomie" title even more apropos). His older brother in onto him.

Sad story

The family grew to 15 children, seven of whom succumbed to lung cancer. Eldest daughter Mabel believed the cancer was caused by bug spray applied by the military to the area prior to the family's removal. The last living child is in her 70s.

No, the family did not want their photo taken. They were not in curlers or a housedress because they were "trashy" as some have joked, but because it was early in the morning. They objected to being photographed but the three men talked them into it.

Information from the chapter "Heartache on the Homefront" from Dave Shampine’s book “Remembering the North Country: Tales of Time Gone By.”

Those black dots on the wall

are flies.

Different genre

I'm thinking more Stephen King than Steinbeck.

Well Documented

Perhaps the Sampsons had had enough of being photographed. They were visited in 1937 by photographer Arthur Rothstein.

Then were visited by Jack Delano twice in 1941, first in August, and after they'd moved to their new farm in October.

Dan and his wife Lila would ultimately have 13 children. The couple both died in 1960.

Grapes Of Some ...

Eiger, yours is the comment of the day. I noticed that too, but throwing Steinbeck in there is so fitting!

Could anyone maintain an appetite while that mounted deer was in the room?! It's rotting on the wall.

Very odd energy in the room, with the lack of eye contact. What do they all know but aren't saying?

She's not there

Count again. Mrs. Sampson is not in the picture, only "The family of Mr. Dan Sampson" which likely only includes his 11 children pictured.

[Mrs. Sampson is the tired-looking lady in the doorway. - Dave]

We have a winner

Mrs Sampson is indeed pregnant. Alonzo S Sampson will be born Nov 30, 1941.

Anomie Farm?

I had to google "anomie". Isn't that just a bit unkind?

[The title of this post is a literary pun. - Dave]

OK. Looks more like the Clover side of things than the Napoleon side, though.

Gifts of Shorpy

Sorry, but I have to "pipe-in" here. Having always liked Shorpy from first discovery, never considering why, I just realized an important ingredient (yes, slow learner). I don't know if Dave planned it this way from the beginning or if it was just good luck, however, while enjoying comments on this photo (and others) it became apparent that each comment gives us an added perspective to think about or learn. Each comment tells a short story. Dave could have started a site with just old photos that he found intetesting. But no, some (hidden?) genius decided to allow viewer participation through the ability to enhance the photos with comments. Well done Mr. Dave! (and any others behind the scenes).

That thing in the deer's antlers

I'm thinking less "bicycle handlebars" and more "bow for a bow saw, missing the blade"

That deer's seen better days.

"Pine Camp expansion area"

Now known as Fort Drum.

My National Guard unit used to go there in early May for annual training (and wake up the residents by firing artillery at 2 AM.) In one week in the field we saw snow, rain, sun, dust, mosquitoes and mud. The commander said, "This is good training!" Our response cannot be printed here (and was probably anatomically impossible).

Moved out because of Fort Drum

The Pine Camp mentioned is now Fort Drum, one of the largest Army bases in New York. The military installation was set up as part of the massive military build up prior to the USA entering WWII. South Rutland is now called Tylerville, and the other place mentioned, Sterlingville, was also devoured by the new base. They may not have been so happy having the family farm taken away from them despite the optimistic commentary from the photographer, who, as a government employee, felt obligated to put a positive spin on things -- well, at least in the commentary.

1940 Census

In the 1940 Census for Wilna, Jefferson County, New York:
Dan Sampson age 47, Lila 36, William 16, Warren 15, Mabel 14, Dorothy 12, Frank 11, Don 10, Charles 8, Charlotte 7, Clara 6, Edward 5, and Lila Jr. 2.

Father of 11

Maybe #11 left home.

Conceptual Art

The deer seems to have tangled with a Picasso bull.

Where's #11?

I count ten. Either one's under the table or mom's expecting again.

This lad is not in on the fix

Yep, I like the boy in the foreground who seems unimpressed by Delano's stage directions.

The girl in front doesn't seem to be fully on board either.

We might call this picture "fake news" now.

Grapes of Whatever

There's an entire Steinbeck novel written in the face of that little girl in the foreground.

Deer Head

The absolute saddest example of taxidermy ever.

Not smiling

The family doesn't seem to be welcoming the camera very much. It reminds me of something my grandmother told me about some distant relatives I thought I might like to get to know; "they are poor, but proud". She was warning me that I'd get the bum's rush very quickly if I gave the slightest "air of superiority", and I wonder if this family really doesn't appreciate being known as the recipient of charity in this regard.

Sampsons' Eleven

Well, the farm may not have been productive, but Mr. and Mrs. Sampson sure were.

Curlers in your hair

With regard to the young lady in curlers underneath the deer-head-with-bicycle-handlebars, I recall my dad, when he would see a woman with curlers interviewed on national TV, speculating on what event could be more important than appearing on national TV, that she would keep her curlers in her hair. In like manner, I wonder why this young lady does not take out her curlers and do something to her hair (like her older sister on the right), with the photographer in their house and all. And doesn’t she know she’ll be appearing on Shorpy in 78 years?

Hobbies: none

That's one thing television eventually did--it gave the grown folks something to do besides making more viewers.

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