Ozarks kitchen, 1936



What an amazing image.

I spot a little tin of Clabber Girl baking powder. The label on the tin in my pantry right now is identical.


In a glass half empty dwelling, that window dressing is pretty much half full. A maker from 1936.


The newsprint wallpaper was probably a good deal, but it terrifies me. A few sparks from that stove in the wrong spot and that family will need to be relocated again.

That girl seems really happy with the deal, though. I hope she ended up in a nice place with a white picket fence.

1 Like

Should be the required background image (in rotation with some current pics of 3rd/2nd world kids) for all school supplied iPads/etc…

(I do like the scalloped edge on the newspaper above the window)


i dunno - girl looks happy, well fed, has good shoes. i am reminded of Laura Ingalls Wilders books. Her family made a cardboard ‘whatnot’ and scalloped the edges - probably very much like this attempt to make a somewhat primitive living space pretty. They also lived in a dugout w/o windows and a dirt floor - sounded very romantic to me as a young girl - again probably the realty was pretty harsh especially to adult eyes - but to kids - a wonderland!


I really doubt many children find extreme poverty a wonderland. Refer to Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans for more photographs of poverty in America ca. 1930’s.


My cousin bought the small-town country store where my mother was born and raised; while he was renovating it he found a small trove of unopened Clabber Girl tins, with the soldered metal tops from the 30s. They were slightly fly-spotted and rusty, but I have one of them on my kitchen shelf anyway!

Edit: My memory sucks, I guess.

1 Like

Wow. The little girl looks a lot like my younger daughter, my grandma had a stove identical to that in her back room, and overall it reminds me of the fairly romanticized cabin on the Dollywood grounds, in Tennessee.

Both areas are similar, both then and now; poor as could be, and built-up and tourist-friendly now. In the case of Branson, where the lake is, it’s startling. Where that house is, there’s a huge paddlewheel boat and all kinds of larger pontoon and motorboats. Along the shore it’s condos all over the place. One of the sad things is that Silver Dollar City at Branson is mostly an amusement park now; craft demonstrations are almost nonexistent now, sadly. And a guy who has performed in a bluegrass band there who came from my home town is a stage manager at the dog show now…progress. :frowning:

Dollywood, at Pigeon Forge, is the one that gets me. As a nod to the fanciful notion of poverty being a wonderland, she has talked about how the steam engine that’s at Dollywood was owned by the owner of the Browns when she was a kid, and they used to dream of going to see it someday. It’s not that far away. Today, there’s almost no break between Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Knoxville–and a lot of that growth happened after Dolly Parton bought Silver Dollar City. Not bad for a woman who grew up in poverty.


Or see the Library of Congress site for a really giant-sized version, and more from the same collection.
Quite a lot more


Such a judgmental attitude from someone in a completely different situation. While i’m sure they would’ve much rather had drapes made from fabric and lots of money. They’re clearly doing the best with they have and even taking time to try to make a house a “home”. Just because people are white and american doesn’t mean they have the same culture as you do, and you shouldn’t judge them for it.

Perhaps they don’t want pity? Perhaps they’re proud of their home? I’ll bet there was someone who thought it was a great idea to scallop the newspaper like real drapes to make things look nicer. And I’d bet they would be a bit offended that you see it as a source of pity instead of pride.


Ozarks Cabin in 1936, or Instagram pic of a hipster restaurant in Gowanus, Brooklyn in 2013? I can’t tell.


The kid is the giveaway. The Hipster restaurant wouldn’t let a kid in there to ruin the vibe.


Ah, but maybe the kid is there ironically.


i didn’t say they found ‘extreme poverty’ a wonderland FFS, i said that children can find beauty and wonder in physical circumstances. For instance LIW readily admitted when her family was cold and starving, but still managed to find beauty and wonder in the natural world and in her immediate surroundings. So did I as a poor but imaginative child JFC!


See also:

Walker Evans, Barefoot Boy in Chair in Coal Miner’s House, Vicinity Morgantown, West Virginia, 1935


1 Like

"The Hipster restaurant wouldn’t let a kid in there "

Hmmm, you haven’t been to Brooklyn lately…


I passed no judgement on the girl and her home. Not a word. But it struck me that making assumptions about the girl’s happiness and whether she saw her life as a wonderland sounds strangely like the video “Ask a Slave” that BB posted yesterday.


I live in a hundred year old house, not quite the same area, but close enough. When we took up the linoleum in the kitchen, underneath was tar paper, and underneath that was a layer of 1943 newspapers. That addition was put on before regular indoor plumbing was added in the 1950s. Newspaper served a lot of needs, at that time.

“The scalloping on the newspaper above the window is heartbreaking” – I don’t agree. The poverty might have been heartbreaking (I don’t know / can’t know), but the scalloping on the newspaper shows that someone took pride in their home. They were doing the best they could, adding a little bit of beauty where it was possible.

And, just because a family is poor doesn’t mean that they never have a good time, have happiness and joy.

I knew an old Ozarks Hillbilly Gentleman, now passed, who would have been her contemporary in age and economic status. He talked about his childhood like it was the most wonderful childhood possible. He walked home from school with his rifle every day, to shoot squirrels for dinner. Apparently squirrel is delicious. He also told me that I was missing out because I’d never eaten poke (which I thought was just a weed).


Clearly not the fire marshal’s house