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Old-Timer: 1915

Old-Timer: 1915

There's no caption information for this circa 1915 photo taken in or around Washington, D.C. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Today’s Top 5


The roof gutter ends above the barrel. My grandfather, born 1911, remembers collecting rainwater off the roof.

I think you're on to something

He's definitely got something going on in that covered up bucket. Check out the seemingly empty barrel. While everything else around the place is falling apart, he took the effort to make sure the barrel was level. See, at the bottom, he put chips of stone under it to keep it steady.

What... could he be brewing?


The irony of the reader comments lauding this old gent's dignity (and I love this photo too) is that most of us would be upset to have a neighbor like this today. Take away the "Ken Burns effect" of black and white and antiquity, add some plastic trash cans in place of the barrels and you have the making of a zoning or covenant dispute.

Open House

I love the screen door....I would like to go in and take a look around!

Standing Corrected

Thanks for the close-up; it looked like rotting siding to me. Now, what kind of bird builds that sort of nest? Barn swallows, as I recall, build in eaves and such, but their nests tend to be much tidier than this, but....

Re: Roof Patches

It looks more like the patches are tar paper or canvas, something much more flexible than metal. And the stuff hanging down in front of the window might be twine or wire and the remnants of some climbing plant.

[As we can see below, he had a vine growing on a chickenwire trellis. And what looks like a bird nest at the top. - Dave]

The old guy

Man, that dude looks like he could have been born around 1850. Probably a Civil War vet.

You kids...

...get offa my lawn!

Last Year's Beans

Looks like he was growing some beans or peas in front of that window. Or maybe even flowers. It looks like he has the remains of a garden in front of the house.


I hope is that the hat was waterproof and he wore it both in and out of the house.

What's in the tub?

Covered with a bit of old rug, tied with rope, weighted down with rocks- what's in there?
The expression on his face makes me think I wouldn't have dared to ask.

Roof Patches

In response to the first of "Couple Things:" the roof of hand-split wooden shingles (white oak was popular for this use) has some badly torn-up sections, and the area right over the window has been patched with small sheets of scrap metal. But before the patch was made, rain got into the end-grain of the board-and-batten pine siding, mold has set in, and that area under the eave will never see mold-reducing sunlight. But the dignity of the man, even living in this hovel, is remarkable. And the details of the area around the cabin take me back to my Great-Grandmother's home way down in Grayson County, Va (southwest corner of the state).Fine choice, Dave. Thank you.

Back to Basics

This is a house in its most pure and basic form. No pretense of design and intended to last no longer than its occupant. The presumed owner/builder's comportment suggests a timeworn familiarity of the place I find endearing. Wish I knew more of his story.

Couple things

1. What's going on in front of/above the window?
2. I love how even a hovel like this has some cool detailing on the screen door.

Cabin John

The Cabin John area of Bethesda, which includes the Glen Echo Amusement Park, got its name from a fellow named John who lived in a cabin in the area. I just wonder if this is that John and that's his Cabin!

[Wikipedia sez: The community name is a corruption of its original name of "Captain John's Mills." - Dave]

I love this photo

Wow. I'm by no means a photographer, but I know what I like. This photo has so much detail and beautiful contrast. I love the dignified manner in which this man is posing. There's obvious financial hardship here, but he's got his nice hat on and has buttoned up his coat. Very impressive indeed.

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