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Bustling Baker: 1942

Bustling Baker: 1942

June 1942. "Baker, Florida. Crossroads in nearest town to Escambia Farms." Acetate negative by John Collier for the Farm Security Adminisration. View full size.


Roads scholarship

Let's see if I can explain the highways, or just cause more confusion. According to an FDOT site, in 1925, Florida designated 62 state roads, including:

SR 41
Road No. 41. From Milligan, via Baker and Blackman to the Alabama State Line.

SR 62
Road No. 62. Extending from Road No. 7 on Alabama State Line via Berrydale, Munson, Baker and connecting with Road No. 1 at Milligan.

The descriptions confused me, until I remembered this is the Florida Panhandle, and Alabama is both west of Baker, and north of Baker.

Then, in 1945, Florida renumbered its state roads, and SR 41 and portions of SR 62 both became SR 4. The SR 189 designation came later.

Road numbers

In the late 1940s Florida renumbered it’s its highways so these probably the old numbers, and being Florida they were probably little behind in getting them changed.

It gets more confusing

seaelf, you just described why I said I cannot identify with certainty what the intersection looks like today. I could not reconcile those 1942 highway signs to today, either.

Given the highway signs are off, I think it's a stretch to conclude the 1942 wooden structure is the red house in Google Street view. So, I compared the Blue Bird Market building Dave provided in my first comment to the building on the corner now. It just got more confusing. The storefronts are identical, but the brickwork along the parapet doesn't match. I'm starting to feel like Rod Sterling should be saying, "Picture if you will, the small town of Baker, Florida."

Completely missed it

Wow. First I went to Baker FL on Google Maps and completely missed the red-roofed house. I was looking for the building with the brick posts next to it and the highway numbers. So then I searched FL HWY 62 & 41 but that put me near St. Petersburg which is nowhere near Baker. So now I'm wondering about the HWY signs in the Shorpy photo....

Same building?

Whatever this is

Is still there.

Home of the Baker Block Museum

Sadly, that does not mean building materials. Rather, it is an important repository of Florida Panhandle History.

I went through Baker in the 1950s, when it was a wide spot in the road with a train stop.


Graphic proof: utility poles come from trees.

Today's perfectly-machined, pressure treated obelisks seem to deny it, but that's about as organic a shape as you're going to find in power distribution systems. Good for about 20 minutes in a Florida hurricane.

(In my observations, the majority of power poles in Florida seem to be cast concrete these days.)

Red and yellow

The octagon stop sign became the standard in 1922. Supposedly the standards group wanted the color to be red, but red paints at the time all faded over time, so yellow was selected. The sign in this photograph has the obligatory bullet holes familiar to anybody who grew up in a rural area.

It's a mystery to me

Great photograph. My eye keeps drifting to the two men walking and I wonder what is casting that shadow they're walking into. I cannot identify with certainty what the intersection looks like today. But I'll bet a buck that stop sign was yellow.

Dave, thanks for the photo below answering my question about what made the curious Y-shaped shadow. I would have never guessed signs atop the Blue Bird Market. I notice there is a time lapse between photos. In the photo posted, there is a perfect triangle shadow on the wooden building across the street. In the one below, there is no shadow. Perhaps John Collier stopped for lunch.

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