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Crank It: 1939

Crank It: 1939

July 1939. "Boy living in camp near May Avenue, Oklahoma City. Photographs show exterior and interior of shacks, tents, other makeshift shelter in May Avenue camp which is partially under bridge and adjacent to city dump and hog wallow. Squalor, filth, vermin in which poverty-stricken inhabitants dwell. Water supplied by shallow wells and water peddler. Piles of rubbish and debris in which children and adults have injured feet. Privies. Families eating food from vegetable dumps, packing houses and discarded from hospital. Children clothed in gunny sacks. Malnourished babies. Sick people. Cooking, washing, ironing, patching. Improvised chicken coop. Corn patch." Acetate negative by Russell Lee. View full size.


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One tired lad

He must have had one grueling day. So tired he probably doesn't realize he put the dinner leftovers in the Victrola, not the icebox.


That young man's picture should be by the word "tired" in the dictionary. At least he has a phonograph to help take the edge off the evening, and his eyes aren't sunk, which indicates he's at least getting something to eat.

No Comment??

Seems odd that no one had any comments on this startling image. When it showed up on Facebook, lots of folks responded with curiosity about the boy. Did the photographer publish this print for effect or did the poor lad actually look like this? At any rate, it illustrates the horrid reality of extreme poverty in the late stages of the Great Depression.

The necessity of music

It's pretty amazing that, living in those conditions of such squalor, that this poor kid still happens to have a record player (apparently sitting on top of yet another record player!). Music must have been one of the few things these people had to help lighten their lives.

A two-talking man

OK, so he's playing an unidentified portable talking machine (perhaps a Sonora?), but it's sitting atop yet another talking machine, a later production (1917-1921) Victor Victrola model VV-XIV, which has had its top doors removed at some point.

On the other hand

They didn't have to worry about earthquakes from fracking.


Looks like the flies were healthy.

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