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Big Mama: 1940

Big Mama: 1940

April 1940. "Resident of riverfront shacktown. Dubuque, Iowa." Medium format acetate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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What is that thing?

Cute little pup has probably never seen a camera before.

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Yes, I do.

And still in business

The Carborundum Company that papered her house is still going strong, just like she was. I wonder what kind of abrasives came wrapped in it?

[The paper itself (Carborundum Garnet sandpaper) is the abrasive. - Dave]

Sweet old lady

I think we’ve found our new syrup mascot!

Hoo boy.

A glimpse of what would, in 80 years, become pretty common.

Historical Imagination

Sad empathy is a little misguided in all these cases - it's home and it's just where you live, and you keep it clean or not just based on what interests you.

I spent every childhood summer vacation in a mountain cabin built in the 1890s, no electricity, water from a brook, with many of the same contents that these houses have.

You just kind of factor it into life. A dog would have been nice.

Well bless her heart

She may be a big girl, but I bet she birthed a passel of kids, could fry up a batch of chicken that would melt in your mouth, grew her own vegetables and ran her farm like a boss.

And her little dog, too

Cute little dog behind the pump. The woman may be full-figured but it looks like she keeps the place as clean and tidy as she can, despite the fact it looks like it was nailed together with scraps of wood and a prayer. In fact, I bet she was self-sufficient in a whole lot of ways.

Respect Your Elders

Why make her weight the subject of your caption? She looked like a nice lady who deserves our respect.

[There's nothing wrong with being big. And that's the title, not the caption. - Dave]

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