Life in gardens: tea stop

Tea and bicycle, ca. 1900, Univ. of Washington Libraries“Two women with bicycle,” Hoquiam, Washington, photographer unknown, via University of Washington Libraries Commons on flickr.

Modern and stylish, ca. 1900.   That’s an interesting device for keeping the kettle warm.

Young women of that time must have been pretty desperate to get out on their own — to bicycle in corsets, puffy high-necked blouses, and large hats.

Beautiful, thick vines on the porch behind them. (You can click on the photo to enlarge it.)

. . .Tell, tell your griefs ; attentive will I stay,
Tho’ time is precious, and I want some tea.

— Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, from “Thursday; the Bassette- Table

The Sunday porch: Delta Farm

Front porch, Delta Coop Farm, 1937, Library of CongressThe front porch of a Delta Farm home, Hillhouse, [Bolivar County,] Mississippi,” June 1937, by Dorothea Lange, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (all photos here).

Delta Cooperative Farm was a privately owned and administered agricultural resettlement project for white and African-American sharecroppers evicted in the mid-1930s.

Founded in 1936 by several religious thinkers, educators, and organizers — including well-known missionary author Sherwood Eddy, who had $20,000 to spend from a follower — the enterprise avowed a commitment to economic equality among the races.

Over half of the first group of 31 farmers to settle at Delta were Black. All members worked together to grow cotton and cut and mill the land’s cypress timber.  All of them shared in the first year’s profits: $327 per family.

Delta Coop Farm houses, 1937, Library of Congress

The farm’s small houses had the same simple plan and amenities — “Screen windows and porches are uncommon in cotton cabins,” noted Lange — but they were segregated in two rows: one white, one African-American, separated by a road. And the children attended segregated schools.

All the families shared the produce of a 10-acre vegetable garden, however, which appears in the photos above to have engulfed the cabins.

And they all used the farm’s clinic, nursery, and library and attended the integrated cooperative meetings.  There had to be at least two Black members on the five-person farm council.

Delta Coop Farm, 1937, Library of Congress

At the start of World War II, the project lost members to wartime industry jobs and military enlistment, and, in 1942, the land was sold.

Four years before, in 1938, the Delta trustees had established a second inter-racial farm project in Mississippi — Providence Cooperative Farm in Holmes County. It operated until 1955, when its staff and residents fled after being threatened by the white citizens of nearby Tchula.  The empty land was sold the following year.

You can read a more complete story of the two visionary cooperative farms here.

The Sunday porch: the peacock

The Sunday porch/enclos*ure: Federal Hill, by FBJ, Library of CongressFederal Hill, Fredericksburg, Virginia, between 1927 and 1929, Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Peacocks are probably the ultimate garden ornament — if you have the room and patience.  (It takes several years for a male to grow a substantial tail covert or “train.”)

The Sunday porch: Omaha, Nebraska

The Sunday porch/enclos*ure: Omaha, Nebraska, 1938, by John Vachon, Library of Congress“Lady tending her flower box, Omaha, Nebraska,” (probably October) 1938, by John Vachon, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

(Click on the image to get a better look.)

The photographer, John Vachon, was on his first solo assignment for the Farm Security Administration in October and November 1938.  In addition to taking pictures of rural agricultural projects  in Nebraska, he was tasked with recording scenes of  life in Omaha for a book by Atlantic magazine writer George Leighton.

There is an interesting discussion of his Omaha work here.  His pictures in the city captured “portraits of Depression victims and scenes of comfortable everyday life,” like the one above.

Vachon later worked for Look magazine for 25 years, and he won a Guggenheim fellowship in 1973, two years before his death at age 60.