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Morning Mail: 1938

Morning Mail: 1938

November 1938. "Morning mail at the Mineral King cooperative farm, Farm Security Administration, Tulare County, California. Old ranch house, California type, in the background. Buildings will be replaced by modern structures suitable to community farming." Medium format acetate negative by Dorothea Lange for the FSA. View full size.

 

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Eucalyptus

Still a very common sight in many parts of California. It was introduced from Australia in the late 19th century by the Southern Pacific Railroad, as a fast-growing source of cross ties. It proved too brittle for that purpose, but landowners continued to plant eucalyptus as windbreaks.

Modern structures suitable

What I don’t understand is how those tiny new sad bungalows (thank you, ContextSans) – the “modern structures suitable to community farming” – were considered superior to the “old ranch house, California type” which they replaced. The old house was bigger and so could hold more people, and was probably breezier, and generally roomier. Plus those replacement houses look awfully postwar to me.

Replaced by FSA housing

It took a bit of digging, but it turns out that Mineral King Ranch is a different place from the named place in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park.

But here's a view of the surviving homes that took the place of this old farmstead:

F.G. Henderson

I believe the F.G. Henderson mailbox belongs to a Frank Glenn Henderson. He would have been 40 years old in 1938. Amongst other corroborating evidence (including 1938-40 California voting rolls), I find Frank in the 1940 Census, which describes him and family living in Union Township, San Joaquin County. The Census confirms Mr. Henderson resided in Visalia (Tulare County) in 1935. His profession is listed as dairyman, working on a FSA dairy farm.

Frank Glenn Henderson @ Find A Grave.

[NB: The Census shows *him* living there. Not "he." - Dave]

[I earlier edited from 'him' to 'he'. Pffft. I'm clearly overdue for a self-directed grammar refresher course. And yes, I appreciate correction(s) when committing an error. - d&v]

Detritus

I’m wondering about all the organic matter in the dirt road in the foreground. The trees appear to me to be plane and maybe palm – is all that stuff from the trees? Or some kind of farm byproduct? I see quite a few pods or beans. Never having been to California, I’m unfamiliar with these things.

[One palm and multiple eucalypti. - Dave]

Should we hang around for another delivery?

The caption implies that these boxes got more than one daily delivery, though the USPS website says that "as a rule, rural carriers have always delivered mail to their customers once a day, six days a week."

When free home delivery in cities began in 1863, the guideline was "as frequently as the public convenience shall require." Multiple daily deliveries were common, though cutbacks reduced these, particularly during the Depression and World War II. Finally, on April 17, 1950, the Postmaster General ordered once per day home delivery, "in the interest of economy."

[As the caption implies, the Farm Security Administration's cooperative farms got multiple daily deliveries. - Dave]

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