Vintage landscape: tire swing

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“Swing made of an old rubber tire. Gibbs City, Michigan,” April 1937, by Russell Lee, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

(You can pause on either picture by putting your cursor over the image and clicking on the ‘stop’ symbol.)

There’s another wonderful swing made from an up-cycled car part here on the blog Playscapes.

ADDENDUM: To see this type of swing in action, click here.

The winter garden: Illinois farmhouse

The winter garden/enclos*ure: farmhouse living room, Mercer County, Illinois, November 1936, by Russell Lee, via Library of Congress“Window of farmhouse living room. Mercer County, Illinois. Hired man lives in house on farm which was formerly residence of owner-operator,” November 1936.  Photo and caption by Russell Lee, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

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Another winter garden is here.

Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

— Carl Sandburg, from “At a Window

Vintage landscape: California living

Back yard, Turlock, CA, 1943, by Russell Lee, Library of Congress

I just like this life-in-the-garden photo by Russell Lee, * of a (May) 1942 Turlock, California, backyard.  (Unfortunately, it’s not very sharply focused.)  The caption, possibly by the photographer, reads:

Housewife waters the lawn. All garden furniture and barbecue pit were made by her husband; about one out of every three houses in this town has such an arrangement in the backyard, and during the summer months people eat and spend many hours in their yards.

I particularly like the rolling sofa thing with the awning.  Turlock is located in central California between Modesto and Merced.

Lee was working for the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information at the time.  He seems to have been sent to Turlock to photograph townfolks being resilient in the face of changes brought on by the war.  He took a number of photographs of this family, described in the Library of Congress online catalogue as from the “upper middle income group.”

Grillling steaks, Turlock, CA, 1943, by Russell Lee, Library of CongressAbove: “Man of the house barbecues steaks over open grill in his backyard. This family keeps vegetables, fruits and meats in frozen food lockers in town.”

Setting the table, Turlock, CA, 1943, by Russell Lee, Library of CongressAbove: “Husband and wife get ready for dinner in their backyard. Menu: barbecued steaks, fresh peas, potato salad, potato chips, celery and olives, strawberry shortcake, and coffee.”

The package around the loaf of bread says, “Better Bread.”  Over the hedge, the neighbors seem to be putting in a greenhouse.

Tending the garden, Turlock, CA, 1943, by Russell Lee, Library of CongressAbove: “Housewife works in her vegetable garden. She lives in small town where there is ample space for gardens; says she would move to country if she couldn’t have a garden in town.”

It’s quite impressive — and particularly that she works it in a dress.  Here’s another view, below:

Son's garden, Turlock, CA, 1943, by Russell Lee, Library of CongressAbove: “Housewife helps her son with his garden.”

Arranging flowers, Turlock, CA, 1942, by Russell Lee, Library of CongressAbove: “Housewife arranging flowers in her kitchen.”

I like her dotted swiss curtains.

I’m going to take a break from blogging for a few weeks (except for “The Sunday porch”), but I’ll be back for GB Bloom Day in October.


* All photos here via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Perspective, western prairie

Sweetwater Co., Wyoming, 1930s, A. Rothstein, Library of Congress“Highway U.S. 30, Sweetwater County, Wyoming” by Arthur Rothstein, March 1940, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Eternal prairie and grass, with occasional groups of trees.  Frémont prefers this to every other landscape.  To me it is as if someone would prefer a book with blank pages to a good story.

– Charles Preuss, Exploring with Frémont

Preuss was a mapmaker who accompanied John Frémont on two of his explorations of the American West in the 1840s.  Together, they mapped the Oregon Trail and discovered Lake Tahoe.

Frémont — who was later the first Republican candidate for President — always played the iconic hero-explorer;  Preuss, at least in his diaries, was a grumbling realist.  “My pants are torn,” was the gist of his comments for the day the Frémont planted an American flag on what he believed was the highest place in the Rocky Mountains.

There’s a funny account of Preuss, here, on This American Life:  “The Homesick Explorer.”  And here.