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Table for Ten: 1940

Table for Ten: 1940

October 1940. "Dinner hour at the home of Mr. J.H. Dube, French-Canadian potato farmer, after he and the boys had finished a day's work in their potato field in Wallagrass, Maine." Medium format negative by Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Potato cousins

Seems you have discovered some of my distant cousins. The Dube (pronounced Doobee) families were prominent and large in the area. The original spelling is actually Dubé (pronounced Dubay). I'm not sure where they would fit in the family tree, as I don't know any names here, but I grew up a few miles from there.

Rare jar of mustard

I have not found any existing examples of the 1815 Prepared Mustard label, although I did find a listing for this product in the April 9, 1943 edition of the "Burlington [Vermont] Free Press" on page 20 in an ad for Colodny's Public Market, under the subheading of "NOT RATIONED-NOT RESTRICTED", advertising "1815 Prepared Mustard...qt jar 19c".

I think this was a product of the Stickney & Poor Spice Co. of Boston who claims to have been the first to import exotic spices into New England beginning in 1815. The company advertised in the early 20th century as being "The National Mustard Pot".

I'm guessing the fact that it came in a quart canning jar, which at the time would set you back between 5c and 8c each or more (there was a war on, you know), empty, made the product a bargain if you planned to soak off the label and reuse the jar for your own home food preservation purposes.

Yep, There's Ten

Ya gotta count the cat, too.

How to get sent to bed without any dinner

Aw, jeez, Ma, potatoes again?

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

... and Fluffy makes ten!

The Tenth Diner

Under the table next to Dad's right leg is then tenth diner, the family cat.

Table for ten.

I'm thinking you are counting the cat as the tenth one, am I right?


Look under the table, next to Dad's knee.

Tater tots

The younger ones look like children of the home to me too, and I also count seven, plus two parents.

Be that as it may, I identify most strongly with the older girl on the right, at the end of the table. Her nails are painted and she's wearing a dainty ring. She's got a flower in her hair, which is elaborately curled. I think she managed to get hold of a fashion magazine now and again, even in remotest Maine. And she made an effort to do what my mama called getting "prettied up." Good for her. More spuds, anyone?

None in sight

Fried, mashed, or baked.

Not even a hint of vodka.

My older sister worked in a bakery. She soon disliked pastries, but she did bring home what didn't sell that day. Perhaps this is why there are no spuds.


I see a kid who has to stand instead of having a chair of her own, but I still count only nine, whom I take to be two parents and seven children.


I only count seven children, the others must be in the other room.

["Children"?? -Dave]

Plenty of mustard

“I thought of the anecdote (a very, very old one, even at that day) of the traveler who sat down to a table which had nothing on it but a mackerel and a pot of mustard. He asked the landlord if this was all. The landlord said:

"All! Why, thunder and lightning, I should think there was mackerel enough there for six."

"But I don't like mackerel."

"Oh--then help yourself to the mustard."

—“Roughing It,” Mark Twain

Almost Canada

Wallagrass is about as far north as you can go in Maine. If you started in New York City and drove to the L.L.Bean store in Freeport, you would be halfway to Wallagrass.

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