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Prepped: 1941

Prepped: 1941

August 1941. Coffee County, Alabama. "Josh Smart family participates in the FSA Food for Defense program. Mrs. Eulia Smart says: 'I never had a pressure cooker before, an' when I got this one, I canned everything in sight' -- 264 quarts since spring." Medium format nitrate negative by John Collier for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


Atlas Jars

Still square, I collected pint and a halfs and quarts. Classico pasta sauce jars. First year for me to can by myself.

Gem Canning Jars in Canada

While most Americans have known only the regular or wide mouth lids for canning, there is an in-between version in Canada for Gem canning jars with a 78mm diameter. There is also the earlier Crown jar that uses a red rubber ring with a separate glass segment in the top. Viceroy brand rubber rings are still available. How it all developed and turned into a major protest can be found here. Bernardin is the big name for canning supplies in Canada. The shelves for pectin and jars are empty in Canada too.

Yes we Can

Canning lids are indeed hard to come by. The pandemic has upended almost every aspect of daily life, but it's been good to see so many learning to garden and can. This year we were fortunate to have bought too many lids last year, but we still can't find Sure Jell Light. Threading the reusable bands on wire for storage is something we do, too. The Atlas boxes are lovely.

A Different Literary Association

Not a Faulkner fan, I confess; for me the name Eula immediately calls to mind Meredith Wilson's formidable Eulalie McKechnie Shinn.

I like the "wreath" of canning bands – I think I may adopt that storage solution myself.

Helpful hints for home-makers

The shelf lining indicates that Eulia's been doing her homework. "Reducing chances of home accidents" was the lead item, thus the straight shelves, perhaps.

A Rather Young Woman

This photo was taken in about the 12th year of the Great Depression. Poverty can take its toll. One must constantly grind and grind to keep self and family going. Mrs. Smart was born about 1900. In this photo she is just out of her thirties.


I’d never come across this name before, so I looked it up. Short for Eulalia. Means sweet spoken. Patron saint of Barcelona. A character in Faulkner’s novel Absalom, Absalom. One source even noted that Eulalia is “a melodious name with a Southern drawl.”

Mrs. Smart's Family

In the 1920 Census, Eula Smart (nee Ammons) is age 20, Josh is age 28, and they have a 2-year-old daughter named Voncile.

By 1930, the family has grown: Josh is now 40, Eula is 31, and they have two daughters: Voncile (12), Vera (5) and a son Paul (2). The family did not own a radio. Josh had never been to school, and could not read or write.

In the 1940 Census, Eula (aged 41) and Josh (now 57!) had a daughter Lois (15) and two sons: Paul (12) and Joe (3) living at home -- Voncile had gotten married at the age of 18 and moved out. This census recorded the highest grade attended; Eula's last year of schooling was the 7th grade, and it looks like Josh never went to school. None of the kids were in school.

Josh Smart died on June 5, 1961, at the age of 72; Eula died on Dec. 31, 1975, at the age of 76. They are buried together in the Wise Mill Cemetery in Coffee County.

Chicken feed

It looks like the Smart family raises chickens, too. No surprise.
I'm assuming this from the gunny sack of 'Broiler Mash'.

Here's hoping

That Mrs. Smart had time to put her feet up and enjoy a good meal, including a double helping of cornbread. She's worn herself down to a nub. In other news, I'd give an hour or so off my life for a few of the square jars in those boxes. And I can't even can. Or can but don't.

Canned Food

We canned everything during the war from chicken to fruit and vegetables. We never had more than 500 cans at one time. We did live in suburban New York City.

That's a Dill-Breaker

I would neither want to hoist up nor lift down those jars of pickles. Somebody in that household probably suffers from a cucumber-lumbar syndrome.

Eat what you can

And what you can't, we'll can -- a family saying from parents who grew up during the Depression.

Shelf Math

Straight Shelves + Time = Sagging Shelves

A jarring fact, so can it.

With the advent of Covid-19, and people planting gardens and doing things at home, canning jars and lids are increasingly hard to find in some areas.

Particularly, the canning lids, which canners will tell you are practically worth their weight in gold right now.

Be careful-

I hope that part of Alabama's not in Earthquake Country with the product of her hard work sitting unrestrained on shelves.

Everything in sight, eh.

Well, let's hope Eulia's husband kept out of the way, and we're not looking at him somewhere on those shelves.

Jarred again

Well, contrary to previous photos on Shorpy, here we see shelves which are reasonably straight.

And those jars were not sized for one member households.

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