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Stem, N.C.: 1940

May 1940. "Interior of general store and poolroom at Stem, Granville County, North Carolina." Medium format negative by Jack Delano. View full size.

May 1940. "Interior of general store and poolroom at Stem, Granville County, North Carolina." Medium format negative by Jack Delano. View full size.


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Through the window

I believe Betsy's Consignment Shop is the building seen through the window.

Ye Old "Chicken Wire"

is still in use. It is sold under the identity of "Hardware Cloth". It is not chicken wire though, as chicken wire has smaller wire and much larger holes. This would have been known as rabbit wire. Just big enough to allow rabbit droppings through, but small enough for them to walk on.

Looks like a scratch

That cue ball seems to be headed to that corner pocket no matter how much eye English he puts on it.

Where were the brooms?

My viewing of so many photos here has led me to the conclusion that we didn't sweep much back in the day.

Fly ball

The chicken wire screen is not there to stop bugs but rather to prevent a flying billiard ball from taking out the window.


Is the screen there to keep bugs out, or to keep the window from being broken by a pool ball?

Make Mine Royal Crown

The rest of those legs.

If looks could slay

The intense gaze of the pool player reminds me forcefully of the expression on the face of Bernini's statue of David with the slingshot. Wait for it, wait for it --

Many Stories Here

My maternal grandmother, the only grandparent I ever knew, would have termed these men "layabouts," though they seem perfectly respectable to me. Two are too young for fedoras, though they're of an appropriate age to be hanging tobacco up in the curing shed instead of lounging about as shown.

The OCD part of me will always wonder what message the removed broadside conveyed. From the lighter shade of the wall, that poster had hung through the combustion of many cartons of Sweet Caporals, Fatimas, and Herbert Tareytons.

Finally, the window screening is almost of a chicken wire gauge, fine for stopping flying cockroaches -- excuse me, "little old June bugs -- but useless against flies and mosquitoes.

The pool table's ...

What? The pool table's rails or top, maybe? The pesky affliction has existed for many decades, evidently.

Suspended light

The light over the pool table is a repurposed "trouble light" that originally would have had a metal cage over the bulb for protection. My dad had one just like it. Made of hard rubber, with a built-in switch.

Yes, Friends --

Right here in River City
Trouble with a capital "T"
And that rhymes with "P" and that stands for pool!

When in doubt,

Apostrophe abuse is near the top of my peeve list.

People around the world who are uncertain about using an apostrophe will see this sign and assume the apostrophe belongs there. That perpetuates the error.

I worked for a man was terrible about putting an apostrophe in any word that ended with an s.

I had a man-to-man talk with him about this and told him in our profession of repairing vehicles, an apostrophe is rarely used. I even went so far as to say if the word has an s at the end, leave the apostrophe off. He didn't reply to my lesson on punctuation and continued to push that button.

His last name ended with an s. Yep, it got an apostrophe also.


They're playing an early form of Pong.

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