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Media Room: 1941

November 1941. "Mr. and Mrs. Lee Wagoner Wagner, who farm on the Black Canyon Project. Canyon County, Idaho." Photo by Russell Lee, Farm Security Administration. View full size.

November 1941. "Mr. and Mrs. Lee Wagoner Wagner, who farm on the Black Canyon Project. Canyon County, Idaho." Photo by Russell Lee, Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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My search on Ancestry came up with zilch for a Lee Wagoner in Idaho. However, I found a Fred Wagoner in Canyon whose family seems to fit: in 1940 Fred is 39 and a farmer, wife Nellie is 33, and they have 4 boys ages 2-12. Another baby boy died in 1943. I wonder if the caption is wrong, or perhaps Fred went by a middle name.

[Or their last name is Wagner. - Dave]

Mystery of the sofa

Despite the collapsed support system underneath (seen behind their shoes), the couple isn't sinking helplessly into old-sofa oblivion. Wonder what's keeping them and those cushions afloat?

[That's a sofa-bed with the mattress showing underneath. - Dave]

Who plays the piano?

On the extreme right of the photo there appears to be the edge of a piano keyboard and accompanying bench.

Did anyone notice ...

Mr. Wagoner seems to be holding his reading material upside down?

[Um, no. His newspaper is folded in half, so the side facing us is upside down. - Dave]

Answering davidk

No visors on the caps probably because the Koran forbids shielding the eyes from the sun. WWI Turkish troops and Spanish Civil War Moroccans both cut the visors off their German coal-skuttle helmets. Americans finally allowed Muslim members of the Philippine Scouts to pin the brims of their smokey bear hats up.

The photo looks like any of the craftsman bungalows we’ve all seen in the US

Just about a week later

That radio will be announcing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor given she's reading the 11/24/1941 issue of Newsweek.

The Media Room is up to date

The console radio is a Zenith of 1939 or 1940. These were quality radios, and not inexpensive.

Black Canyon, SRO

This looks like a stage set. The front door, couch, and radio are all conveniently facing the audience. The half-walls are where children or adults can sneak onstage and eavesdrop, unseen by the Wagoners, and behind which you can hide something from the audience.

Opening scene:
Lee to his wife, "Did you do anything interesting today, dear?"
Wife, " " [I'm having writer's block ... I'll get back to you.]

Best of Shorpy

I love, but these vignettes of middle-class home life in an America long ago and far away are my favorites. And I have to say, 1) that door must bang that chair every time it's opened, and 2) as someone who HATES ceiling lights, I can sympathize with whoever took that bulb out.

And one more...

The "S" is McCall's magazine.

Effie Klinker?

With regard to those two dolls on the shelf of the cabinet on the left, is it possible that the top-hatted one is Charlie McCarthy and the other one might be Effie Klinker? (Sure isn’t Mortimer Snerd.) I wasn’t able to find a photo of Effie Klinker in a hat like that or without her spectacles. Maybe it’s a doll of some other ventriloquist dummy not related to Edgar Bergen.

Silver Screen

December 1941 issue.


Newsweek, possibly "Silver Screen", "Hoard's Dairyman", "Bible Readings for the Home Circle"... quite a variety.

A well-lit room

Yes, I know it is the photographer's lighting, but the room is well lit for having no bulb in the ceiling "fixture". The couple look surprisingly modern for some reason, Is it the hairstyles? The clothing?

The oddity that catches my eye is a very small one - the half-mortise hinges on both the door and the cabinet at the left.

No bulb in the socket

Or any other source of illumination except for the reflection of the flash in the glass for this staged photo.

Life imitates art

Scene has a quality of Joseph Cornell's ready made box. Cluster of things, that should have some "meaning" - from previously mentioned doll in the forefront by the other poster, absence of a light bulb at the ceiling fixture, an oval framed photo of kids.

The guy looks like the type with short attention span when it comes to reading.

Hinge of fate

Curious how the hinges are set on the door and on the cabinet on the left. Kind of nonstandard to have the hinge plate set on the face of doors like that.

Photos of their Sons?

I wonder if those pics on the shelf are their boys. For Lee's sake, I hope they are. If so, he'll be able to continue working his farm during the coming world storm.

A Dairyman

With a copy of Hoard's Dairyman in the magazine rack, one can assume that Wagoner was a milker. And so this picture would have captured one of those small spaces of time when a dairy man wasn't prepping the milk parlor, milking, cleaning up afterward, or sleeping.

Nov. 24, 1941 Newsweek

The cover story: "Malay Troopers: A Link in Far Eastern Chain." You can pick up a vintage copy from the Bill Graham Estate's counterpart to Shorpy, if you've got $92.

Don't look now but

There is an exceedingly creepy doll type thing doing an evil side-eye from the built-in cabinet in the foreground left. Speaking of left, I'm wondering if that is Mr. Wagoner himself, as a tyke, on the far left in the trio of siblings framed and hanging on the wall above his wife's head.


November 24, 1941. (Why no visor on the hats?)

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