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Early Boomers: 1940

Early Boomers: 1940

December 1940. "War boom in a New England industrial town. Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Bryant in their trailer about two miles out of Bath, Maine. Mr. Bryant works in the shipyard. They have been living in the trailer for two months. They could not rent in Bath and although a trailer cost them almost as much as a house, Mr. Bryant feels that it is a better investment because they do not know where they will go next in search of work when this 'boom' is over." Medium format acetate negative by Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Mr. & Mrs. B

Leslie Eugene Bryant (1919-1995) married Ruth M. Barstow (1919-1994) in Maine on June 25, 1938.

In December 1940, Leslie and Ruth were photographed in their home by Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration.

The Bath city directory for 1942-43 mentioned their move to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Leslie was inducted into the Army on September 19, 1944, at Portland. His civilian occupation was machinist. In November 1944, he was admitted to the hospital. Diagnosis: reaction to drugs, vaccines, serums (smallpox vaccine) while in basic training. He was returned to duty.

Leslie and Ruth were living in Escambia County, Florida, in the 1950 Census. Leslie was employed as a machinist at Pensacola Naval Air Station.

They were divorced February 1957 in Huntsville, Alabama.

Trailer life

Speaking of Maine winters, how would they keep the pipes underneath from freezing? And trailers are never insulated all that well, so it would’ve been mighty chilly inside, I’m thinking. As for twin beds, the seating arrangements generally pull into a double bed.

[Insulated pipes. - Dave]

Twin beds for newlyweds

may work in a movie or on TV, but is not so great in real life. At the other end of domestic life -- that trailer in a Maine winter during a marital bump-in-the road is not going to provide any get away-from-me space. But they are the Greatest Generation; they will make it work.

Wonder what happened to them?

Well, the "boom" lasted another four and a half years, but Mr. Bryant might well have been drafted, if he couldn't get an "essential industry" deferment.

That does remind me of the old used trailer my parents got for our summer place, with that thin wood veneer.

Those Shoes

So many people have been those same shoes. Young, recently married, dreams and worries in equal amounts, uncertainty ahead.

Love alone is not enough and there are always bits of life drama presenting themselves. But with a bit of luck, Mr. Bryant proves himself useful enough at the Plant that he avoids the draft. Mrs. Bryant manages to also find work, and the two find time to build a family under a permanent roof.

[So they were real heels? - Dave]

Well heeled, let's say.

Bath Iron Works - Still There

Bath Iron Works is still one of the largest shipbuilders for the U.S. Navy and one of the largest employers in Maine. As it was in Mr. Bryant's day, shipbuilding remains a boom-and-bust industry.

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