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Young America: 1964

Young America: 1964

"Cornett family, 1964. Teenage boy smoking." An image from photographer William Gedney's first visit with the Cornett family in Leatherwood, Kentucky. Gedney Photographs and Writings Collection, Duke University. View full size.

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Today’s Top 5


I'm glad we've gotten past that now.

Sweet, wholesome people

What worldview must one have to look at a photograph of two little girls playing with dolls and determine from that alone that they are not "sweet, wholesome people."

Poverty is a social situation, not a moral one, and does not preclude sweetness and wholesomeness any more than wealth guarantees it. Drawing conclusions and making assumptions about personalities from photographs is always risky, but drawing conclusions about the morals of children from a photograph is pathological.

[Another questionable assumption might that of "poverty." - Dave]

Raising tobacco

One thing for people to keep in mind is that Kentucky is a huge tobacco growing state. Tobacco was cheap, readily available and, let's not forget, socially acceptable (dare I say popular?) in 1964. My father, born and raised in Pike County , has been smoking since he was 10 and now he's 64. This was absolutely not uncommon in Eastern Kentucky in those days.

Creeps and rednecks!

Your creepy feelings are probably justified. These are not sweet wholesome people, even the girls and Barbies.

Answered Prayers

If I were Truman Capote, I might be inspired to write a novel.

Still Alive?

The boy might be, if he ever stopped smoking.

Roll your own

Not my favorite pic of this family, but shows true teenage life and reminds me of my early teenage years. Everyone remembers the feeling of that first drag on a cig and your lungs trying to tell you "no way". In my case the peer pressure won the day, sadly. On the other hand, I quit many, many years ago before the damage was done.

Leatherwood KY is

not too far south of Cornettsville KY


That is a great photo, thanks!!

Rural life

I have lived in a very rural area all my life. I enjoy this web site more than I can describe, especially the photos of families, but this collection gives me the creeps.

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