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Spring Hardware: 1939

Spring Hardware: 1939

April 1939. "Front of hardware store. Enterprise, Alabama." Medium format acetate negative by Marion Post Wolcott for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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The Union Fork and Hoe Company was located for nearly a century in Columbus, Ohio. The products were made here for much of that time. The company was sold to Ames True Temper in 2006 but the Union Tools brand is still around.

A service, not yet a profession

In the early 1920s, Dr. A. (for "Albert") L. Lee helped establish the American Legion post in Enterprise, Alabama and was one of its first officers (a sign that he likely served in the First World War). What is striking about his family's 1940 census data is what the optometrist's wife reported about each family member's educations. Dr. Lee reached the third of four grades of high school, and did not attend college.

A nod to the sign painter

Who probably used Sargent Paint Products.

Recognizable items

Our small town store in Chesterfield Ma.had a rake rack just like that one. As a kid I was fascinated by it. The bike looks like a "Rollfast," just like the used bike I had back in the '40s. That was the only bicycle I ever had.

I See Something I "Reely" Like...

I wish I could have a closer look at the lawn mowers; I've become fond of that type. I currently use a 1940s era mower manufactured by the Pennsylvania Lawn Mower Co..."As light and easy running as a watch, with the sturdiness of a locomotive."

A Blessing in Disguise

Enterprise is famous for its Boll Weevil Monument, erected in 1919 to celebrate the agricultural pest. After boll weevils repeatedly destroyed the area's cotton crop, local farmers switched to growing peanuts, and have prospered ever since.

The 13-foot monument features a statue of a woman holding a boll weevil aloft.

Often stolen from the monument, the boll weevil was removed and replaced with a replica in 1998. The original boll weevil is on display at a nearby museum.


My fifth-grade teacher was from Enterprise and was always telling us kids about their monument to the Boll Weevil. The bug forced Southern farmers to diversify by turning away from cotton to other crops, mostly peanuts.

Lee's Watchful Eye

Not sure Dr. Lee approved of next door's "Use Union Tools" sign.

Work or Play?

You see a display full of hard-working tools -- I see the ingredients for a lazy day.

A feller could do some mighty fine fishin' with one of them bamboo poles. And eight cents worth of celery for bait.

The view today

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