A Warm Stove, 1930s.

Family Walk, 1930s.

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Family out for a walk, consisting of a boy, a mother and child, and two older ladies, on a windy day. 1930s. From this set.

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Cattle And The Farmer, 1930s.

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A man tending to his cattle, 1930s.

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Twin Elm Farm, 1938.

Massey Harris '44, 1940s.

A farmer, dressed for cold weather, standing next to a Massey-Harris '44. This photo appears to be the partner to this photo - the camera was traded, giving us a rare look at the photographer of most of these photos.

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Plains Farmstead In Winter, 1920s.

A plains farmstead in the middle of winter, Model T parked outside. 1920s.

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Horse in Barnyard, 1930s.

Horse standing in barnyard, 1930s.

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Autumn Farmstead, 1920s

A wind-blown prairie farmstead, circa 1920s. I believe this farmstead was located on the northern end of Clay County, Minnesota, north of Felton.

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Shady Side of the House, 1930s

No A/C, no electric fans, the shady side of the house is the place to spend a sunny afternoon. 1930s (more)

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Farmhands, 1930s

Hired farmhands, 1940s (more)

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Sue Ann, 1955

Captioned "Sue Ann 5 months" on the front, "For Grandma" on the back.

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Sittin' on Grandpa

On a hot summer day, sittin' on grandpa is the funnest thing for a pixie-cut girl to do. This photo hails from the late 1930s in rural Minnesota, and is the kind of candid real-life photo you hope to see out of dozens of posed, dour pictures of family members. It's also a part of the farm photos don't usually get taken at --nobody poses in front of the junk pile for a family picture. The jungle-gym is clearly Grandpa: he looks much the same in nearly every photo, up until the 50s. The guy sitting up, I'm unsure who he might be, possibly a hired hand. As a farm kid, I remember those summer days -- "I'm bored; I should go bother Grandpa for a while." Turns out, Grandpas usually spend all day hoping the grandkids stop by to interrupt his work.

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Riding the Red Comet

From an overexposed image, adjusted with Photoshop. This Red Comet, a fine steel wagon with rubber wheels, was probably a big gift for a kid back 'in the day' - no Toys R Us, and not a lot of money, meant not a lot of toys to go around. A wagon gave a kid transportation: load up the dog, fill it with rocks, drag around a sibling, all kinds of things beyond the scope of two little arms. Also, for a mom whose arms are already burdened with all kinds of carrying, a kid can be pulled along behind when working in the yard. Big rubber wheels and high clearance allowed for off-road travel.

See also: radio flyer * how wagons are made * thoughts on red wagon origins

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Martin's Junk Truck

A well arranged photo of Martin and his buddies -- Martin, for whatever reason, had a bunch of junk to haul. Eagle-Eye Billy got to ride shotgun, literally. Probably taken in the 1940s, pulled from this set of rural Minnesota farm life.

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Armour Stockyards, West Fargo ND, 1938

More of the Scenic Red River Valley of the North -- about the same time period as yesterday's photo, but from one of the tallest structures for quite some distance, the water tower at the Armour Processing Plant in West Fargo, North Dakota. This view is of the stockyards -- each of those tiny dots in the distance is a hereford. See anything else between here and the horizon? I didn't think so. Snow and nothingness as far as the eye can see. It's the desert and the ocean all rolled into one, but it doesn't have nearly as many poems written about it.

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Farm Funeral, 1930s

I don't know who passed away, but they were important to this family. Note the lack of scenery; this graveyard is probably at the bottom of glacial Lake Agassiz, now a nearly-flat, low plain along the border of North Dakota and Minnesota. For centuries this area was grasslands, save some hardwood trees along the creeks and rivers. Farmers arrived in the 19th century, but erosion wasn't a big concern until the Dust Bowl. The land was smooth and featureless; even today, you can still see where the curve of the horizon disappears, if you look in the right direction.

See also * funeral museum * funeral history * vintage hearses * UK hearses * prairie graveyard * greenwood cemetery

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The Troublemakers

These are the Troublemakers -- I only call them that because they look like those reckless teens that were only out to start trouble. You know, the ones that listened to jazz and watched boxing and didn't give a horse's patootie about what their fathers had to deal with, what with fighting the Kaiser overseas and living through flu epidemics. These reckless children of the 1920s couldn't have been all that bad, though; these are from the set of Minnesota farm life negatives that I've been scanning over the past year. These kids grow up, move to exotic places like Revere, Minnesota, and have troublesome kids of their own.

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Took The Roof Off

The idea that a tornado could take the roof clean off sounds like an exaggeration -- but there's ample evidence that's exactly what happened here. These photos were from the 1950s at the latest -- 1920s at the earliest -- all of which are on the early side when it comes to rural infrastructure in this part of the world. Put yourself in this farm family's shoes: It's raining like hell, you've got no TV, no telephone, no radio (and even if you did, there was no 'emergency broadcast system', no NOAA weather radio, and even a little rain interferes with them all), you're huddled around a candle in your dirt cellar, and you hear the rumbling -- like a train, but the nearest tracks are 10 miles away. You've got nothing you can do but wait it out, and hope it doesn't come too close of the house. They're lucky it was just the top of the barn -- as you can see in the last photo, they were able to put things back together, hopefully without too much loss.

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More 1960s Halloween

Sing along with me: "One of these things is not like the other; one of these things is not quite the same..." I really hope this photo was taken around Halloween, otherwise Gunther has got some 'splaining to do. If you look closely, he didn't just grab some kid's mask and put it on for the photo: he's got mismatched ugly socks, an over-the-top boutonniere (matching his tie, no less!), all wrapped in an ill-fitting suit. Gunther was probably quite disappointed when nobody else wore their costumes to the party, coincidentally held on Halloween though no costuming was ever mentioned. He's still wearing the costume to try and remain inconspicuous, as though he just casually stopped by in whatever he had on that day. Poor, poor Gunther.

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Scary House In The Woods

I really don't have any proof that this house is haunted, or contains a murderer, or was built on an indigenous-peoples burial ground, but it sure looks Halloweeny. [more photos in this series]

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