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Zollie Lyons: 1939

Zollie Lyons: 1939

July 1939. "Zollie Lyons, Negro sharecropper, home from the field for dinner at noontime, with his wife and part of his family. Note dog run. Wake County, North Carolina." View full size. Medium-format nitrate negative by Dorothea Lange.


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We are the desendants

Commenting on one of the articles The Lyonses- wondering what happened to the family after the war. It was amazing to see our great- grandfather Zollie Lyons on these pictures! How can we get more information? I didn't know that these pictures existed. The family still resides in North Carolina. Please advise of who we can contact for more information.

[This and other photos from this set at the Library of Congress can be found here. -tterrace]

Dog run = dog trot

The "dog run" or "dog trot" is the center opening. A lot of Southern homes had a kitchen separate from the main living area, to keep the living area cool. Sometimes homes had a completely separate building known as a "summer kitchen" where cooking, canning, clothes washing etc could be carried on without heating up the house, & also to prevent any fires from burning the main house down. My dad (age 87) says southern men also used to keep a mirror, pitcher & basin, soap, razor, etc on the back porch, so they could wash up & shave out there.

Dog Trot

These cabins, called "dog trots," were found throughout the cotton South, having originated in Appalachia. They featured a center hallway between two "pens" or buildings, where much of the domestic work of the house such as cooking, washing, and food preparation could be done in the shade or out of the rain. Also, ventilation was provided by the center opening. Here is an extensive photo documentation of one of the houses - much like the one pictured here:

Additional reading

If one wanted to get a real sense of how life was for sharecroppers in the South during the Depression, I can suggest a novel called "Hold Autumn in Your Hand" by George Sessions Perry. I don't know if the book is in print, but used copies are probably at Amazon. I stayed up all night to finish this one.
A good non-fiction work about sharecropping in the South is called "The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas Cotton Culture" by Neil Foley. A tough read, but mixed amongst the first-person narratives is a good explanation of the financial aspects of sharecropping, for both the sharecroppers and the owners.

[Thanks for the suggestions. I'd like to throw in a mention for the short stories of Flannery O'Connor. - Dave]

The Lyonses

It would be interesting to know what the war did to this family; the years of Southern sharecropping were drawing to a close, and the war could have provided work in factories in the Northern cities.

Re: Dog Run

One purpose of the dog run was to serve as a sort of firebreak. The kitchen was on one side. If a fire broke out there, perhaps the rest of the structure could be saved.

Dog run?

What dog run?

[Reference to a southern style of architecture. - Dave]

They all look so tired....

Life must not have been too easy back then.

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